Twist off their heads and kick them away.

Twist off their heads and kick them away.

They were in those years.

if Western rock music hit the minds of Chinese young people in the early 1980s, Cui Jian's songs twisted their heads and kicked them away from time and space.

rock veteran Cui Jian performed in Wuhan in 2011. Photography: China Daily Sun Xinming

in May 1986, 24-year-old drummer and lead singer Cui Jian stepped onto the Beijing workers' sports stage, and the TV station broadcast his live classic "nothing", which triggered a craze for local rock music. but its musical style was not recognized at that time.

"the world is changing," Cui Jian sang in another song that night. "it hasn't changed for a long time." (the lyrics of Cui Jian are not that I don't understand, the world is changing fast)

Western music at that time was brought into the country by foreign students, Western tourists, and Chinese businessmen who began to step out of the country, and then copied by individuals, gradually infiltrated the Chinese people. Michael Jackson, the Beatles, Madonna and Zeppelin poured in one after another in that trend, and their music represented rebellion and transformation.

at the end of the Cultural Revolution, a restless generation is still looking for its place; before Cui Jian's performance that night 26 years ago, no Chinese had spoken so directly for this generation.

Jonathan Campbell, played in the RandomK in 2008. His new book records the development of rock music in China.

"if Western rock music hit the minds of Chinese young people in the early 1980s, Cui Jian's songs twisted their heads and kicked them away from time and space." Jonathan Campbell describes it in his new book, Red Rock: the long March of Chinese Rock and Roll, (Red Rock: The Long, Strange March of Chinese Rock & amp; Roll).

"Western music is influential, but the lyrics of" nothing "are directly directed at the hearts of the people, which is completely in line with the mentality of the Chinese people at that time. Cui Jian's roar carries the pain, restlessness and restlessness of the "lost generation". "

Campbell described the individual in Cui Jian's song, using the word "I", and at the time everyone seemed to have only "we" in his concept; he was dressed in plain clothes and not in a special costume.

studying and even composing Western music soon became a trend. In China, any teenager can buy a guitar and ask a friend to vent. Chinese rock and roll takes advantage of the opportunity to move forward, and its music influence has been formed. This shows that anything is possible, and it was impossible to imagine during the Cultural Revolution.

"Rock and roll says, 'you can do whatever you want, and you are as important as others," Campbell told China Daily. "countless people told me that after discovering the world of rock and roll, they began to look at things in a new light. And all you heard before was, 'you have to get married, get a job, buy a car, and so on. Do your job.' However, rock'n 'roll tells you not to forget that there is art in this world, there are you in this world, you are a human being-living in the world as an individual.

"in my opinion, Chinese rock is rock that surpasses western rock. It touches the essence of rock'n 'roll, because Chinese rock' n 'roll says,' do something, do whatever you want.'"

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in 2000, the 25-year-old Campbell came to Beijing to learn Chinese and soon became a drummer in a band. His daily job is to cover local recreational activities, so it is easy to start a promotional tour with Chinese bands through acquaintances.

the friends and colleagues he met in the next decade became the focus of his book, among whom he interviewed more than 90 musicians and music critics. Campbell said that many of them still play in bands, become the backbone of the music stage, and the rock element is still the same. However, he has now returned to his native Canada.

"I wrote this book to clarify the context from ear to ear. It is not surprising that the Chinese band traveled across the ocean to New York today. But 30 years ago, it was inconceivable that anyone would have created rock and roll there. Whether they like to admit it or not, the new generation of bands is more like the product of the "Rock and Roll long March" than the bands founded in the 1980s and 1990s; the analogy of many bands in Brooklyn is the product of the Beatles.

"in the early days, musicians and fans were mostly shocked by the infinite possibilities presented by music." Zhang Fan, principal of Beijing Midi Music School and director of the Midi Music Festival, told Campbell that rock made him think about the future. "I began to think that the situation would get better and better," Zhang Fan said. "Young people make the future. The situation is good and the country is opening up to the outside world. We should contribute to our country. I really feel happy and want to contribute. "

looking back at that time, people thought that marginal culture was dangerous and chaotic, and they were playing with their lives at rock concerts. In fact, most of the early rock musicians were college musicians who bid farewell to tradition and turned to new forms of music. Dai Qin, lead singer of the Skinny Band, was once a member of a regular opera troupe.

in 1992, Dai Qin first heard the Beatles'"come together" while performing at a nightclub in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. "I cried," he said to Campbell. "the hair on the arm stands upright. It's so exciting! I don't know what to do, that's what I want, but I never know how to do it. "

Campbell said that one of the signs of China's opening up to the world is the sudden influx of cultural waves. For young musicians and fans, it is simply passionate and unstoppable.

Jennifer Conrad, former music editor of Time Out Beijing, attended Campbell's work seminar in Brooklyn earlier this month. She told China Daily that the music training period is shortening.

"change is coming too fast," Conrad said. "in view of the fact that Western rock music has been developed for centuries, the Chinese started from scratch and caught up. MusicOn the other hand, it will take 50 years for development in the West and only 20 years in China. As a matter of fact, the same is true of other developments in the country, with the modernization process and living standards improving at an extremely rapid pace.

"in only one generation, a small village has become a prosperous city."

Western listeners will be surprised to hear "Red Rock", Conrad said. "at present, most of the news from China is about leaders or economic and environmental issues. But what are your counterparts in Beijing doing in Williamsburg or Greenpoint (), (, two residential neighborhoods in Brooklyn you must be thinking)?

"in fact, they are doing art and music. Drink cheap beer and listen to MGMT. They are also very patriotic, actively participate in domestic concerts (not just following foreign fashions) and feel increasingly confident about China's position in the world. "

Campbell mentioned that in the early days of the development of rock music, foreigners contributed musicians and audiences to rock concerts in China. Foreigners had the money to buy records and could afford concert tickets, while many Chinese were powerless at that time. These people understand the culture of bars and concerts and guide the beginning of Chinese music performances.

he also mentioned that Westerners will inevitably encounter pitfalls in observing Chinese culture.

"(they) have the pleasure of colonial shock," he wrote. "(Westerners) that smile is to say,'Oh, my God, it's great! The Chinese like our music.' That kind of smile is to say,'of course your album is not very good, but you guys-- I mean you people are just getting started with this, and everything is difficult at the beginning, which is not bad. "

but this arrogance obscures the fact that it is only through the baptism of years that rock music has a real impact among Western audiences.

"it's hard for us to imagine that there is a similar thing in a foreign country, but in other countries, such artistic ideas have influence, and the influence continues," Campbell said. " We would say, 'Damn it, they left Moses with a dry head instead of wearing a hairy uniform! This is crazy! But then I thought, damn it, this really means something.

as writers, it is our responsibility to record what happened, but not in a condescending manner. Because what they do is not like us. They always insist on doing rock'n 'roll because they really know the meaning of doing rock' n 'roll. "