Sun, Aug 07, 2016 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan in Time : The resilience of suppressed tunes

Yeh Chun-lin, one of the most prolific Hoklo songwriters in history, persisted despite government attempts to suppress the language

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter


Yeh continued to struggle as an aspiring songwriter during this time. His big break came in 1957, when he released his first single, Autumn Wind and Fallen Leaves (秋風落葉). He soon began a partnership with the legendary singer Hung Yi-feng (洪一峰), their first hit being Memories of an Old Love (舊情綿綿).

This collaboration continued for many years, and Yeh also wrote countless songs for other singers, the subject matter often about love, society, morality, various professions and life of everyday people.

By 1998, Yeh had fallen gravely ill due to lung disease from a lifetime of smoking. He had one more place he wanted to add to his Sketches of Formosa series: the outlying archipelago of Penghu — but he was too sick to visit. Instead, he asked his family for books and material on the scenery, and completed his last song — the 36th in the series — The Beauty of Penghu (澎湖之美) that May. He died three months later, on Aug. 12.

Taiwan in Time, a column about Taiwan’s history that is published every Sunday, spotlights important or interesting events around the nation that have anniversaries this week.

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