“On a rainy day, I walked down an empty street…”
After he played the brief prelude, Lu Chen’s voice, accompanied by his guitar, sang, “Watching the flowers, bloom and wither …”
Tan Hong’s dedicated fans all believed that Soaring Pigeon was his best work. The subject of the lyrics wasn’t particularly profound or complex. It told a story of a youth that desired freedom and seeked romance. That youth was perfectly embodied in the pigeons that soared in the skies.
It was an emotional ballad that was suitable for young people to perform. Countless people enjoyed the song. Even after more than a decade, the song was still very popular and performed by many people. The song could often be heard in the various bars in Houhai.
However, this song was publicly acknowledged as very difficult to sing and play. Singers that want to perform the song to move people but lacked the ability would only be courting disaster and humiliation.
If the past Lu Chen chose Soaring Pigeon as the opening song, with Lu Chen’s old performance level, he would simply be overestimating himself!
However, when he gently strummed the guitar and began his performance, Forget Worries Bar quickly became quiet. A few customers that were still talking and laughing shut their mouths. The bartender standing behind the counter stopped shaking the cocktail shaker in his hands. Even the servers walked quietly, afraid of disturbing anyone.
Lu Chen’s clear and clean voice was broadcasted through the various speakers throughout the bar and into the ears of everyone in the audience. The audience couldn’t help but be influenced by the music. Their mood followed the tune of the song, moving up and down.
“I stood in front of you…”
“In my dreams, I became a pigeon that soared through the azure skies…”
“La la ah~ a soaring pigeon!”
Since they were familiar with the song, they liked the song but, at the same time, they were very picky about how it was played.
Regular customers of Forget Worries Bar possessed a degree of appreciation for music, even the popular songs. If the singer played a single note wrong or sang a tune in the wrong key, they would be able to identify it. Especially if it was a classic song like Soaring Pigeon. It was a big test for singers.
Lu Chen’s performance was almost perfect. He managed to deliver the emotions perfectly through his playing, breathing, and voice. Even if they were really picky, the only fault they could point out is that, compared to Tan Hong’s original performance, Lu Chen was inexperienced.
However, if he wasn’t inexperienced, could he even be considered a youngster?
After five minutes, the song finally finished.
Not a voice could be heard in the entire venue. It was unknown who took the lead but, after a moment, applause rang out.
A good performance was a good performance. If someone sang well, naturally, they deserved to be applauded.
The roguish whistling that ensued elicited laughter from many people and gasps of admiration could be heard.
“Little Lu, your singing today was really charming. Big sis loves you to death. I’m sending you a dozen Kingway beer.”
This was the amiable greetings from a sly, phony young lady!
Lu Chen smiled and waved towards the other party to convey his thanks – she was a regular customer that liked to joke around.
Customers can show their support for a singer that they like through gifts. For male singers it was beer, and for female singers it was fresh flowers. A dozen Kingway beers, each worth 20 RMB, totaled to 240 RMB.
Lu Chen didn’t have to drink the beer but he could take his 50% cut from the sale of the beer, totalling 120 RMB!
The location of Houhai bars and their customers were very different from that of Sanlitun. There were basically no nouveaux riches that threw money away or retarded rich second generation children that spent money to chase girls.
A gift of a dozen Kingway beers could be considered a transaction that wasn’t small at Forget Worries Bar.
This sister had sent Lu Chen beer before. However, at most, it was two or three bottles as a token amount. Today, she directly sent a dozen. Undoubtedly, the performance that just finished had received her admiration and appreciation.
Lu Chen’s decision to make Soaring Pigeon the first song to warm up the stage was definitely correct.
He held his guitar and felt a wondrous feeling suffuse through his heart.
Behind the stage, the charming lady’s mood was also very unusual.
She gently opened her red lips and used a disbelieving gaze to stare at the bar’s owner, Chen Jianhao. She said, “Brother Jianhao, if you didn’t want to let me have someone, just say it directly. What do you mean when you play me like this?”
Chen Jianhao bitterly laughed and helplessly said, “Su Qingmei, how did I play you?!”
This great aunt wasn’t a normal person. She was a set of old bones that was absolutely unable to be trifled with.
“You still dare to talk…:”
Su Qingmei gnashed her teeth and said, “Little Lu’s voice is a bit special but his performance ability is too amateur. Performing here to fill in the gaps is his limit. In addition, he has to rely on the audio tuner in the back. Do you really want to sign him?”
She repeated the same words that Chen Jianhao said about Lu Chen previously, not missing a single word! 1
Chen Jianhao was immediately rendered speechless.
He, himself, also felt very strange. Lu Chen’s ability was clearly only at a amateur level. However, today’s performance and the skill he exhibited was as if he was a different person. It was almost as if he was reborn and became a different person altogether.
Before Lu Chen began singing, Chen Jianhao was actually wasn’t happy with Lu Chen’s decision to use Soaring Pigeon to open the stage.
He believed this song was too hard and Lu Chen fundamentally lacked the ability to perform it well.
However, he was now actually being mocked and ridiculed by Su Qingmei, but was unable to retort. He could only say, “this brat… geez!”
“It must have been the help of an expert over the past couple of days that allowed him to display that level of skill.”
Chen Jianhao resigned himself and came up with a rational explanation.
Su Qingmei coldly smiled, “two days of guidance can raise someone to be at that level? Which expert is that great? I’ll hire him with a yearly salary of a million RMB. Also, don’t you dare tell me that you can’t distinguish the difference. His voice has clearly not been tuned by the guys backstage.”
Chen Jianhao felt as if his face was about to swell up.
He was knowledgeable about music; he originally was part of the industry. Furthermore, this was his bar. How could he not distinguish whether the singer’s performance was tuned or not?
It was definitely a problem in the sound booth.
This only served to accentuate Lu Chen’s ability — it was his pure, original voice!
Chen Jianhao was helpless in the face of the overbearing Su Qingmei and could only gloomily say, “then you can talk to Lu Chen yourself. As long as he agrees, I will definitely let him go!”
Actually, Lu Chen and Forget Worries Bar didn’t sign a formal contract and if he wanted to leave, he was free to do so.
Su Qingmei smiled victoriously and said, “Let’s listen to a couple more songs. We can’t be sure that it really is his true talent.”
At the moment, Lu Chen, who was sitting on stage with his guitar, had already received 37 bottles of beer.
The extra 370 RMB made his mood soar and he had to forcibly suppress his excitement. He said into the microphone, “Thank you very much for everyone’s support. This next song is rather special…”
His words stumbled a bit causing him to pause before resuming, “It is a song that I wrote myself. Today is the first time I brought it out to perform. The title of the song is…”
“You Who Sat Next to Me!”
You Who Sat Next to Me is the first song from the world in Lu Chen’s dreams. He had composed and arranged the song then submitted it with another song to the Greater China Music Database and successfully registered the copyrights.
Therefore, You Who Sat Next to Me’s complete copyrights now rest with Lu Chen as his original song.
Lu Chen didn’t lie to himself that this wasn’t plagiarism. However, when he thought of the enormous debt at home, the weight on his heart lightened until it disappeared altogether.
The familiar yet strange world of his dreams, those three lifetimes of memories, were gifts bestowed by the heavens that allowed him to change his fate!
Lu Chen took a deep breath, his perplexed gaze once again became resolute. His fingers rested on the guitar strings once again.
Original song? First performance at Forget Worries Bar?
Lu Chen’s words couldn’t help but cause a small disturbance in the bar. The customers were surprised and there were many of them that felt Lu Chen was simply playing to the gallery. 2
Especially the regular customers that knew Lu Chen. They were already amazed at Lu Chen’s performance level for Soaring Pigeon. When they heard that he wanted to sing an original song, they were rather pessimistic and were a little unconvinced.
Writing a original song wasn’t that easy!
Ever since the birth of modern pop music, there have been countless classics that emerged from China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and the west. But in modern times, good original compositions has become more and more rare. So much so that people even claim that the outstanding melodies have all been written already.
All the melodies obviously can’t be completely written. However, this was a testament to the difficulty of writing an original work.
Many popular singers claim they are original composers but their works were usually thrown together or very ordinary. These singers also existed in the bar singers’ circle. They hope for a song that allows them to become famous and earn money. However, these singers just make a fool out of themselves.
Did Lu Chen let his success get to his head and get carried away?
It was normal for young people to be impulsive. Who didn’t have a time when they were hot blooded and passionate? Everyone could understand.
However, this didn’t imply that they believed that Lu Chen could produce a good original song.
It was only the song name was very interesting — You Who Sat Next to Me.
Many people thought of their youth and their former deskmates. Their faces displayed a hint of a smile.
Su QIngmei pursed her lips and smiled, “Brother Jianhao, this little brat of yours really hid many talents. I was right in coming today!”
Chen Jianhao had already been attacked quite heavily and he could only reply with waning excitement, “Let’s listen, listen…”
Original work? That is simply nonsense. How could he not know the extent of Lu Chen’s abilities?
Originally Chen Jianhao let Lu Chen perform on stage because his outer appearance wasn’t bad and his voice was passable. It could easily fool the amateurs. All he did was warm up the stage anyways. Whether or not he sang well had little to no consequence.
As for musical accomplishments, did Lu Chen have any?
However, after the lesson from earlier, Chen Jianhao didn’t say anything in case it came back to slap him in the face.
Where would his old face be able to go?
On stage, the guitar prelude began to play. A soothing voice subsequently flowed into people’s ears.
“Tomorrow, will you recall,
the diary you wrote yesterday,
tomorrow, will you think about,
you who loved to cry.
The teachers have long forgotten,
you who couldn’t guess the answers,
It was only because I randomly flipped through my pictures,
that I thought of you who sat next to me!
Who married the sentimental you,
Who read your diaries,
Who did your hair,
Who made your wedding dress…”
All the customers were stupefied. Even the servers were dumbfounded.
Chen Jianhao was stupefied, and Su Qingmei was likewise dumbfounded.
The classic ballad that belonged to another world, through Lu Chen’s performance, struck their inner hearts.
It had stirred the souls of every single person.
Author’s Note: You Who Sat Next to Me (同桌的你) by Gao Xiaosong (高晓松)