It seems strange that even as the book market is getting tougher, quite a number of local writers are trying to make a comeback, yours truly included. I just saw Singapore’s most renowned gay writer Johann S Lee with his reprinted old book Peculiar Chris (1992) and two new titles on the shelves at Kinokunya (making me feel kinda jealous). My old friend and fellow writer Douglas Lee (not his real name) and his Fatal Seduction series have also been spotted on the shelves of Popular and Kinokunya.
For various reasons, writers, singers and other artists are coming out of retirement. There may be good reasons for their optimism, but ultimately, fate decides the outcome.
The name 潘安邦 is almost synonymous with the Taiwanese folk song 外婆的澎湖湾. Emerging on the music scene in 1979, 潘安邦 with his lanky figure and good looks, instantly became the college girl’s Romeo. To be honest, I was never a big fan of his. I find his voice a little weak and a little hollow in the throat. I also had my own favourite singers for some of the songs that he had sung. For instance, I prefer 刘文正’s version of 思念总在分手后. I even prefer 刘文正’s version of 外婆的澎湖湾.
Thus, I wasn’t one of those hoping against hope after 潘安邦 released his last album and quietly went into retirement. It was around the time I graduated from university and there was a Wang Jie craze going on at that time. Most people had forgotten about 潘安邦. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw him on TV some 6 years ago.
He explained that he had quietly faded away from the music scene mainly because he got married. Believe that reason or not, he was finally back, looking not very different from the 潘安邦 20 years ago. I was amazed and figured that in spite of his long absence and the new kids on the block in the form of Jay Chou and JJ Lin, 潘安邦 might just make it.
Sadly, ill health sabotaged his comeback. First, it was aortic dissection. Then, came pancreatic cancer and finally kidney failure finished him off. He passed away yesterday on 3rd Feb 2013. Many of his fans would be mourning and I’ve already seen an outpouring of grief on Facebook. Everybody seems to be talking about how he/she loved 外婆的澎湖湾.
But please, even though 潘安邦 started his career with 校园民歌, 外婆的澎湖湾 is definitely not his best song. I’ve mentioned that he had weak vocals. Well, this is one 潘安邦 song where his vocals are strongest.
And 潘安邦’s most marketable quality is probably that X-factor in his rendition of highbrow “classics” like 清平调, with its lyrics taken from a poem by the legendary Tang poet Li Bai.
Yes, 外婆的澎湖湾 is probably the signature song by which he will always be remembered, but look around you, even for a mediocre voice like 潘安邦’s, there are songs which show him in his element. And I’m not a fan of his. 安息吧，潘大哥。
Dewdrop Books presents Spellbound In Chiangmai
© Chan Joon Yee