Rock School: XTX – Yesterday I Might Have Died Dissected
If you’ve spent any extend of time reading this blog, you know that i’m a big ass fan of Xie Tian Xiao aka XTX aka The Godfather of Live. I’ve been sold since the first time i caught hime live and really never looked back. He’s been many things throughout the last few decades and his contribution to Yaogun is not to be doubted. I’m not gonna go into detail about that as it’s easy enough to find the info on Rock in China or other online resources.
As a (late) follow up to last week’s post about Cui Jian’s Yi Wu Suo You, I decided to bring in his heir instead of his peers. Sure, I could do He Yong or Tang Chao but I’ll save them for another time. Today we hit XTX’s 昨天晚上我可能死了.
This song comes from his Cold Blooded Animals (冷血动物-Lěngxuè dòngwù) era, a must listen as far as i’m concerned and probably one of the best records ever to come out of China ( get it here while you can). Let’s jump in:
Press play and follow up
( you might recognize that Bass player as Guo Jian, frontman of Longshendao)
冷血动物 (Lěngxuè dòngwù- Cold Blooded Animal)
昨天晚上我可能死了 (I might have died last night)
Zuótiān wǎnshàng wǒ kěnéng sǐle, shì zěnme sǐ de wǒ yě wàngle
Yesterday night I might have died, I also forgot how I died
Zuótiān wǎnshàng wǒ wàngle huóle, zěnme shì huózhe wǒ yě wàngle
Yesterday night I forgot i’ve lived. What is Life? I also forgot
Shénme néng zhèngmíng wǒ huózhe, shénme néng zhèngmíng wǒ sǐle
What can prove that I’m alive? What can prove that I died
How do I really know whether i’m alive or dead?
天空中飘过的云朵. 是不是我? 是不是我?
Tiānkōng zhōng piāoguò de yúnduǒ. shì bùshì wǒ? shì bùshì wǒ?
Clouds are drifting in the heavens. is it really me? is it really me?
Wǒ yě méiyǒu shītǐ wǒ yě méiyǒu hūxī
I don’t have a body, I’m not breathing
Tiānxiàng fénmù yīyàng yāzhe wǒ
Celestial graves are similarly dragging me down.
sheí zhěngjiù wǒ sheí zhěngjiù wǒ
Who’s gonna save me? Who’s gonna save me?
man.. this one was actually tougher to translate than the previous one. It’s like hypothetical metaphysical existential metaphors but then again, that was the height of XTX’s grunge phase. Try translating Smells Like Teen Spirit in Chinese and have it make sense right away.
A few things that were interesting to deal with in translation and interpretation that I’m not sure i got right:
忘了活了: 了denotes past action and in this case, it’s there twice. I’ve translated this as “forgot i’ve lived” but it might as well be “I forget i’m alive”
怎么是活着我也忘了: This is another one i’ve translated literally but it feels wrong. Maybe a better one would be “I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be alive”
天象坟墓一样压着我: this one was the trickiest of all and i’m still double guessing it. From talking about clouds to this, one can assume that the 天象坟墓 (celestial graves) are stars. So to get really meta with this, Stardom is a heavy burden? This is grunge after all.
It’s a pretty simple song to learn and memorise but that don’t make it an easy one… Being fortunate enough to have spent a lot of time hanging out with Lao Xie, he can be a deep motherfucker! and I mean that with all due respect. His answer would probably be:
anyways, XTX is headlining gongti on 3/30 and you should be there… hopefully, you’ll feel alive
so, did i mess this one up somewhere?