Wednesday, June 30, 2004

New Song
Sang a new song last night, called Ballad of the Lost.

When my mother was eight years old, she was sent by her father to visit her older sister in Taiwan during the Chinese civil war between the Communists and the Nationalists. While she was over in Taiwan the remaining Nationalist cities began to falter, and almost as if overnight most of the mainland fell under Communist rule. My mother went on vacation at the age of eight, and never went home.

Communication with the rest of her family, her father and mother, siblings, relatives, was cutoff for almost three decades. My mother essentially raised herself with the assistance of her older sister and various relatives who were living in Taiwan. Eventually, she came to the United States for education where she met my father. They married, and while living in the Philippines in 1970 as teachers and short-term missionaries, attempted to contact her father again via mail. They hoped that mail from a southeast Asian address would be allowed to reach his original address.

He could not be found at his old address, but some encouragement came when a long-lost relative responded to a mailing sent to another old address. But that relative failed to respond to future contacts and the trail went cold.

Shortly after my sister was born, Chinese premier Chou En-lai and U.S. president Richard Nixon re-established formal communication between the two nations, opening up the possibility of travel for ordinary citizens. Full diplomatic relations would not be restored until 1979, but the stage had been set and the doors were opening. (Learn more about this on the PBS website, The American Experience - Nixon's China Game)

I was born in 1975. A good friend of my mother was assisting in the search, and I believe that her son was the one who actually made the breakthrough. While traveling in China, he visited my mother's father's hometown. When the residents at the old address proved to have no knowledge of its former inhabitant, he started knocking on doors in the neighborhood. Finally he came upon an old man, who not only remembered my grandfather, but actually knew where he was currently living.

Through that persistent friend, contact was re-established with her father after more than twenty years of silence. During this time, her mother had passed away. Her father remarried and had children of his own through the second marriage.

When I was very young-- but old enough to recall-- grandfather came to California to visit the family he had lost almost three decades earlier. My mom's relatives pleaded with him to move to the United States but he declined. He said that he was an old man now, too old to start over in a new place, and all that he had ever known was China.

It was the last time that my mother was to see him. In the mid 1980's, he passed away. This song is for my mom.

Lyrics in their entirety are below.

Ballad of the Lost - ©2004 Dan Tan
Father where did you go today?
We crossed the ocean, then lost our way.
Did you escape from the dogs of war?
We would rescue you, but they've closed the door.

We pray that angels wake, when you lay down to rest
God I am on my knees, is this some kind of test?

A child was I when we left our home
I've grown up now, and I'm still alone.
I dream of endings like movie scenes--
You'll wipe my tears, you'll be calm, serene.

We pray that angels wake, when you lay down to rest
God I am on my knees, is this some kind of test?

I've children of my own, suddenly you appear
And it's been more than, it's been more than twenty years.
I can't believe my eyes, emotions buried deep inside me...
All that I thought was lost, regained in such a short time.
Father how we missed you.
Come here, let us kiss you--
And hold you now
Hold you now
And hold you now
Hold you now

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Six String
Playing this Tuesday at the Six String. June 29th, 2004.

I've been bad about updating my blog lately :-(. Been a busy month, and will continue to be busy at least up through August.

Have written a couple new songs these past two months.

Thanks for reading the blog! May God bless you...

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