Endy Chow’s 人在做// War

With what’s happening in Myanmar, this song titled 人在做 really fits the mood. (Ok, I have no idea how to translate the song title.)

Hong Kong singer-songwriter Endy Chow is probably not widely-known for his rock music. Many people here are missing out on hidden gems like this one. Actually, he has played in a band called Zarahn, which still exists in some way, since he was a teenager. I’ve heard of criticisms like how his voice isn’t “good” for ballads and that it sounds like it almost cracks when he performs live. Well, maybe his voice is just more wired for rock?

The song starts out with some sounds of “drone strikes” and drumming patterns like gunfire. Yes, it’s about war and conflict. (The lyrics weren’t written by himself though.) I like how it’s not a straightforward anti-war song; instead, it recognises and uncovers the existence of some dark mentality in human beings — it could be anyone’s, everyone’s.

The first few lines make a very discreet reference to the 9.11 incident and G.W. Bush, who in response initiated the so-called “war on terror” in various countries including Afghanistan, which turned out to be a “war of terror” that has ruined the lives of many civilians and non-civilians.

I really like this verse (sorry my English tranlstion may include a bit of my own interpretation):

我不敢張望 想制止這種瘋狂 (悲哀的宇宙) — I don’t dare to look around, hoping to put an end to this madness (tragic universe)
人是沒希望 竟有種屠夫渴望 (真的太荒謬) — there’s no hope for humanity, but a desire for becoming a butcher (total absurdity)
全人類 一方各一黨 (歷史一切一切一切可改變) — the humankind, one party going against another (the entirety of history can change)
人人做 知否誰在看 — everyone is complicit, (not) knowing who’s watching

Music in some way is an escape from reality as it lets us envision an alternative universe. At the same time, the reflection of reality and attempts to bring out personal experience, worldviews and beliefs are things that make music so relatable.

Songs with the theme of war surely aren’t as visible as they used to be. Bob Dylan’s Blowing with the Wind is probably the most famous anti-war song in recent decades. This version of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez is my favourite:

Speaking of Myanmar, it’s really tragic how the entire country, all of a sudden, is returning to the dark, dark days (it was kind of dark before that too…). Let’s not forget it’s not until the early 2010s when they started to sort of open up. The Tatmadaw (the military) that is removing its facade of oppressive rule now is also the Tatmadaw that has killed, persecuted and pushed away Rohingya people. That’s not to say the civilian government hasn’t been complicit either.

Just 1–2 months ago, I told a good friend I wanted to visit Myanmar at some point. Now, I realise, probably it’s not possible to do so in the next decade, or who knows for how long. I sort of took it for granted thinking things would stay that way as they did in the 2010s. Probably we all did. Today I reached out to and checked in on a few Myanmar people I got to know when I worked for an INGO. This is a message from one of them:

We are keep fighting military coup
by making demonstration
#CivilDisobdienceMovement (Most of the civil servant don’t go to office until freedom of DASSK and democracy)

Help for Burma.
Please do whatever you can do from your country.

I can’t imagine how heavy-hearted she must’ve been. I don’t really know what I can do… but all of us should, at least, not look away.

I hike, listen to (and write a little) music, work, learn, and currently live in Hongkong.