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Zhou Xuan’s “Shanghai Night”

You may as well thank me now, my friend, because you are going to *love* this.

We both know you love Chinese music…but let’s face it: We can only take so many hours of traditional Chinese classics on zeng and pipa and erhu and bamboo flute. “Revolutionary Favorites” are novel, but no fun to listen to when your friends aren’t around. And modern Chinese Pop? Puh-LEASE!!!

I know you’ve been looking for something else, something with Chinese lyrics, but that doesn’t insult your intelligence or sense of musical taste. Something you can actually appreciate musically, and not just tolerate because it may be helping your Chinese listening skills.

Here’s what you need:

Now playing on my iPod and home sound system, soon to be on yours, I trust, is the recording “Shanghai Night” by singer Zhou Xuan, known as “The Golden Voice” in 1930’s-40’s China.

I’m not saying that she’s “The Chinese Billie Holiday” or “The Chinese Marlene Dietrich,” but her music fits quite nicely on the same playlist as theirs.

Zhou Xuan Shanghai NightActually, on second thought, the details of her life and its trials and tribulations do make her somewhat of a Billie Holiday character, but I recommend you start with her music first.

Like me, you’re probably a “try before you buy” kind of person, so head on over to the E-Mall for full minute samples of each of the 18 songs on this recording–my favorites right now are “Keep on Smiling” and “Peach Blossom–try it, buy it, and see if this doesn’t make the most welcome addition to your Chinese music library in a long, long time.

And then go read more about Zhou’s life. You’ll be glad you did. In a sad kind of way.

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