Xu Wei says his moment is now
Updated: 2013-02-01 08:00
By Chen Nan (China Daily)
When Xu Wei came back on the scene after a four-year break with a new album, At the Moment, he received a letter from one of his fans.
Years ago the man had listened to Xu's second album That Year in his university dormitory. He didn't like it because he was obsessed with Cantopop then. After graduation, he started working, fell in love and experienced life's struggles and a heartbreak. One day, he listened to Xu's That Year again and was moved to cry.
"I felt the same way as you sing in the songs and suddenly, I felt someone understood me," he wrote in the letter.
That's the magic of Xu's music, stirring up mutual emotions among listeners.
Twenty years ago, the singer-songwriter left his hometown Xi'an in Shaanxi province to pursue his music dream in Beijing. In those early days, with no money and no record company to produce his works, he wrote songs like Birds and Drifting to express his struggle between dreams and reality.
In one of his early songs, Two Days, he murmurs: "I have two days, one day for hope and the other day for hopelessness."
The waiting is finally over - he has become one of the best-known rock musicians in China.
The 44-year-old's new album seems to be another chapter of his life. Replacing the desperate lyrics and impetuous rock beats are warmth, peace and contentment.
During his recent retreat, Xu got interested in traditional Chinese culture, and he started reading books about Buddhism and drinking tea. He also spent hours listening to music from U2 and Bob Dylan to J.S. Bach. He also enjoys the music of guqin, a traditional seven-string plucked instrument.
He recorded the new album while traveling in Yunnan province last April, a process and journey which became a documentary.
He invited Li Yanliang, who is hailed as a top guitarist, to be his album's producer. On the road, the two old friends agreed that music is a kind of study and they don't want to achieve anything through this album except to seek like-minded listeners to share and enjoy.
The meaning of rock 'n' roll also evolved for Xu. In the past, he wrote rock songs to relieve emotions and to be critical. Now he sees rock as an expression of love.
Xu recalls his old friend, the established rock band Tang Dynasty's bassist Zhang Ju, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1995.
"In his diary, he wrote, 'Life is like a tree'. He loved life, loved people around him," he says.
"When you listened to 70-year-old Paul McCartney singing Hey Jude at the Opening Ceremony of London Olympic Games, you felt love, didn't you?"
Recently, Xu also signed a contract with Beijing Gehua Live Nation Co, a leading live-performance organizer, which has brought international artists like Bob Dylan and Irish rock band The Cranberries to China.
Xu will kick off his national tour in May, which he calls the biggest in his career.
"As I am getting older and older, the world becomes bigger and bigger to me. I am still learning," he says. "I want to sing for people who share their lives, their youth with me, through my songs."
(China Daily 02/01/2013 page18)