Poor Thing

It was in 1991. I was living alone in a shophouse in Hougang and I bought my first minicompo with a CD player. In those days, when cassette tapes were not fully replaced yet, audio CDs were going for $20-$30. I bought a few at a shop at Ang Mo Kio and one of them was 苏慧伦 Tarcy Su’s first album 追得過一切. At that time, I was only familiar with the main title song 追得過一切 in that album. It was a little too lively and girly for my taste, but I remembered hearing a few nice, melancholic numbers by her on the radio. I was taking a risk, not sure if the other songs sounded good. It turned out that my favourite song in that album was little publicised 爱我好吗? A very young singer, Tarcy managed to bring out all the complex emotions in unrequited love. I got hooked and listened to it again and again, especially on those sleepless nights when I was hammering away at my computer keyboard. I’m not sure where I’ve kept that CD now, but thanks to YouTube, I can hear the song again.

苏慧伦 recorded 28 albums before calling it a day. If you were to ask me what songs were sung by 苏慧伦, I can only name 3 of them offhand. 爱我好吗? 寂寞喧哗 and 哭过的天空. Of course, she also sang something about lemon trees, but I’m not even minimally touched by them. For me, Tarcy’s greatest strength lies in her ability to interpret songs about loneliness.

Again, it has been 20 years. Tarcy staged some sort of a farewell concert for her fans in 2010. It was a simple, low budget affair, but it’s when you stage performances like these that you get an idea who your real fans are.

It has also been 20 years since I’ve last published anything. I doubt many of the fans I had back then can remember me. The big advantage writers have, is that their looks, though important (like book covers), are not critical to success.

© Chan Joon Yee


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