Rock School: Miserable Faith Yi Zhi Wang Nanfang Kai Dissected.

In the years I have been listening to Chinese music, going to festivals and really being in the thick of it all, there’s only been a handful of bands that have stood the test of the years and can claim to be Yaogun royalty. I’ve covered Cui Jian and XTX before in the lyrics section as a start. Today we’re moving on to the heroes of the yaogun scene. The band that, seen with my own eyes, inspires a devotion like none other in the mainland: Miserable Faith aka 痛苦的信仰 or more recently just 痛仰乐队.

I’ve seen the band, year in year out, rocking audiences, saving the day and generally delivering an awesome live vibe. Whether we’re talking headlining MIDI or playing to a packed Jiangjinjiu.

I didn’t get to see them this year on day 3 or MIDI but from the videos and pictures, it was just as good as ever. Last year though, I was fortunate enough to be there, front row. I witnessed passion and devotion from the band and the audience. It was no longer a show.. it was a prayer to the spirit of rock n roll! And everyone felt it.


I could have picked one of their earlier, Rage Against the Machine type of songs, but i preferred the Highway Song because i could never figure out part of the lyrics. Let’s see how I manage!

Here is a video from their 10th year anniversary gig at Mao Live singing the song, so press play and follow along!

公路之歌 ( Highway Song)
Gōnglù zhī gē
痛苦的信仰 (Miserable Faith)
Tòngkǔ de xìnyǎng

梦想 在什么地方
Mèngxiǎng zài shénme dìfāng
Where is the dream

Zǒng shì nàme lìngrén xiàngwǎng
Always so desirable (causing yearning)

Wǒ bùgù yīqiè zǒu zài lùshàng
I can’t wait to hit the road

Jiùshì wèile lái dào nǐ de shēnpáng
Just to get there by your side

梦想 在不在前方
Mèngxiǎng zài bùzài qiánfāng
Is the dream really ahead

Jīnyè de xīngguāng fèn wài míngliàng
Tonight the stars are shining so bright

Xiǎngzhe yuǎnfāng xiǎngzhe xīn shàng de gūniang
From afar, missing the girl of my heart

Huítóulù yǐ shì nàme màncháng
The road to get back is so long

Yīzhí wǎng nánfāng kāi
driving straight south

Yīzhí wǎng nánfāng kāi
driving straight south

Yīzhí wǎng nánfāng kāi
driving straight south

梦想 在什么地方
Mèngxiǎng zài shénme dìfāng
Where is the dream

Gǔndòng de jū lún gǔndòngzhe niánhuá
Spinning wheels, spinning years

Wǒ zài yě bù yuàn chénzuì bùnéng rùshuì
Once again I’m reluctant (unable) to get drunk or sleep

Yào jìxù háishì yào qù miàn duì
Should I go on or go face you?

Yīzhí wǎng nánfāng kāi
Driving Straight South

梦想 在不在前方
Mèngxiǎng zài bùzài qiánfāng
Is the dream really straight ahead

Límíng de shǔguāng yǐ wéiwéi zhào liàng
Dawn’s light is slowly getting bright

Wǒ sì céng wén jiàn xiānhuā zài shèng fàng
I can smell the flowers blooming

Nà shì liáoyuán xīngxīng de guāngliàng
those are bright prairie stars

Chéndiàn tòngkǔ de xìnyǎng
Bringing along a miserable faith

Jiǎoxià de lù zài héfāng
Where’s the footpath

Yīzhí wǎng nánfāng kāi
Driving Straith South

As I expected, it was a tricky song to deal with lyrics-wise. There were a few things in there that I really had to dig deep in order to understand. 令人向往, in the second line, was one that didn’t make sense at first. Google translate didn’t quite help on that one. I did like the 想着远方想着 structure as I hadn’t seen it before. Missing Afar Missing… it’s a cool way to emphasise.

As i was translating the song, I was first surprised at how the meaning changed: I thought it was gonna be all about heading south to the promised land.. boy was i wrong! The last part of the song clearly nuances things and makes it feel like there is a bit of running away from something. If my interpretation of the line 要继续还是要去面对 is correct, that would be the first hint that there is something/someone left behind. And the lyrics after that, including a cleverly placed “miserable faith” seem to confirm that idea.

I cool little thing about the song that can be maddening at times is the pronunciation: Gao Hu is really singing with his own dialect to where even the chorus Yīzhí wǎng nánfāng kāi sounds more like YiZHUO

What do you folks think?

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