In the 1970s Kimbo, or Tuko Mackaruwane in his native Puyuma language, was known as Taiwan's Bob Dylan, blending Taiwanese Aboriginal sounds into his poetry and folk music.
Named Hu Defu (
Produced by Cheng Chieh-ren (
"It's hard not to be touched by Hu's natural yet powerful voice," said Lee Kun-yao (
Back then, Kimbo was Taiwan's highest paid folk singer, earning up to NT$25,000 a month -- at a time when the monthly salary of a Cabinet minister was NT$7,000 per month.
"Maybe my songs were too heavy for the market or to package for commercial record companies. They were written not for publishing purposes in the first place," Kimbo said in a cafe in Taipei, a cigarette constantly in one hand.
Kimbo said he is not a prolific songwriter. He writes about one song a year, each one written, he said, after the pain in his body, heart and soul had reached a cresting point.
"If a song cannot move me to an unbearable degree, I would not publish the song," he said.
The blues he feels is from his 30-year involvement in Taiwan's political, social and Aboriginal movements. In all of these upheavals over the years, Kimbo's role hasn't been that merely of the protest singer, but rather he has been the frontman and organizer of many demonstrations.
In the 1980s Kimbo was a member of the tangwai (
Hu was among the first to talk about reclaiming land from Han Chinese-owned businesses and from the government, preserving Aboriginal names and raising the issue of Aboriginal girls being forced into prostitution.
Even in 1999, a decade after the peak of Taiwan's political and social movements, when the 921 earthquake devastated 90 percent of Aboriginal villages in central Taiwan, Kimbo emerged again, leading clashes with police over unfair treatment of Aboriginal villagers.
When Lien Chan (
All these actions and sentiments have been accumulated and encapsulated in his songs.
The Longest Road (
Darter, Clouded Leopard, The Basin Of Taipei (
Kimbo also wrote folk songs, such as The Boy On The Buffalo's Back (