Friday Song: The Campus Folk Movement at its best

Society & Culture

The song above, “You, My Deskmate” (同桌的你 tóng zhuō de nǐ), features in Krish Raghav’s list of 70 songs for 70 years of the People’s Republic of China. The text below is adapted from that post.


In 1976, a young Taiwanese musician named Lee Shuang-tze (李双泽 Lǐ Shuāngzé) stormed a stage at a folk music festival in Taiwan’s Tamkang University, shouting, “We should sing our own songs!”

Then he smashed a Coke bottle and decried the excessive Western influence on local music. This, the Tamkang Incident (淡江事件 Dànjiāng shìjiàn), led to the Campus Folk Movement (校园歌运动 xiàoyuán gē yùndòng) that would produce startling, simple songs with a wounded heart and nostalgic mood.

Mainland China’s campus folk movement only took root 20 years later, but singers like Lǎo Láng 老狼 (featured above with the song “You, My Deskmate” [同桌的你 tóng zhuō de nǐ]) and Gāo Xiǎosōng 高晓松 seemed to channel that same spirit, albeit with traumas that were larger and more immediate.

The writer Madeleine O’Dea refers to a “wounded romantic spirit” that took root in artists in this post-Tiananmen era. In her book The Phoenix Years:

70 songs for 70 years of the People’s Republic of China


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