Dear reader — there is an important disclosure in the first three words of this story.
When my wife Wú Fēi 吴非 and I were living in Beijing in 2013, she formed a band called The Wu-Force with the banjo player Abigail Washburn and Kai Welch, a man who has never seen an instrument he can’t play.
They wrote a bunch of songs and performed in Beijing a few times, including once at the just-closed live music venue Yugong Yishan. You can download The Wu-Force EP from links on this page, but my favorite version of my favorite song is the one above, filmed and recorded live in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s called Big Pressure — Yālì Dà 压力大. Wu Fei arranged this version of the song for The Wu-Force to perform with alt-classical ensemble Chatterbird.
2013 was a big pressure year for me. We had a new baby daughter, our first child. I was adjusting to family life after two decades of irresponsible bachelorhood. I was in the midst of selling my company, and the process dragged on for ages. The commercial authorities of Dongcheng District jerked me around for months on end. The company I was selling was running a blocked website from Beijing in the first year of the increasingly authoritarian rule of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平.
The song Big Pressure gave me cathartic relief from my stress. There are only three words in the whole thing: Yālì Dà. If you’re feeling under pressure, turn up the volume and sing along with The Wu-Force and Chatterbird ensemble at the top of your lungs!