Teresa Teng Forever

:::

1995 / June

Ku Lin-hsiu /photos courtesy of courtesy of the Teng family /tr. by Phil Newell


On May 8, 43-year-old Teresa Teng died from a severe asthma attack while on a trip to Thailand. When the tragic news was released, it was as if an enormous boulder had been dumped into the lake of the global Chinese community, sending ripples in all directions. It was not only ordinary Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Southeast Asia who were saddened by the incident and thought fondly of their many memories. The media devoted a tremendous amount of space to the story, and many groups bestowed posthumous honors and accolades on Ms. Teng. The staff at her record company in Japan wore black armbands for a week. Teresa's death was reported in the New York Times and Time magazine, and these journals described her enormous impact on fans of Chinese music.

Teresa Teng was popular in Chinese societies worldwide for three decades. Even though she has left us, for countless fans she will always be their "eternal sweetheart."


At 10 o'clock on the night of May 11, Tseng Ta-fu, the 45-year-old owner of a bookshop, got in his friend's car for the journey to Taoyuan to meet his idol--Teresa Teng. The simple white coffin sitting in the huge transport warehouse at the airport presented an unexpectedly poignant scene.

With his hands clasped together, Tseng forlornly watched the hearse pull away into the dark of night. The next day, he went to the municipal funeral hall in hopes of paying his last respects, but was unable to because he is not a family member.

Twenty-some years ago, Tseng was serving as an army medic stationed in Kinmen. The long and lonely days at this front-line station were made a little easier to bear by the warmth that came through in Teresa's singing. After returning to civilian life, whenever things were not going well he always found solace in Teng's music. Teresa Teng occupies an important place in his memories of his twenties and early thirties.

He was there applauding wildly at a special concert marking 15 years of show business for "Little Teng." And during the special auction to raise money for Chinese civil war veterans stranded for decades in northern Thailand, he was unable to buy one of her pictures despite bidding NT$100,000. Besides listening himself, he has always given his friends and relatives Teresa Teng CDs and tapes for birthday gifts.

When the news of Teng's death hit, Tseng was unable to sleep for a couple of nights. He listened to her albums non-stop for ten days. His store was also constantly bathed in her gentle voice.

A subdued Tseng, who his wife describes as mourning as if for his own parents, says that he once gave his wife instructions if he were to die first: On the seventh day after his death, when by Chinese tradition the family arranges for ceremonies to pacify and see off the soul of the deceased for the last time, she need only play the music of Teresa Teng and he would surely rest in peace.

Tseng makes one point especially clear: He is far from being the only Teresa Teng fan with such a feeling of loyalty.

An early beginning

Teresa, who was born in 1953, is probably the most famous woman singer among Chinese people worldwide. Maybe younger people born after the 1960s don't see what is so special about her, but people of the generation before theirs can give a lot of reasons why they are so uniquely fond of her.

Teng's father was a great aficionado of Peking opera, and little Teresa often accompanied him to performances. She was thus infected by a love for singing. When she was only five or six, she would dress up in her father's oversized shirt and stand in front of a "microphone" made out of a shoe polish can and belt out folk operas just like the real thing. In primary school, she sang more clearly and better than anyone else. She began to stand out, and often performed at informal parties and evening gatherings. Later she won a singing competition with a Hubei folk opera composition entitled "Visiting Ying Tai." (Hubei folk opera songs were updated and made popular by filmmakers in the 1960s.) She gave up her formal education in her third year of middle school and began performing in floor shows.

Next came appearances on the television show "Galaxy of Stars," followed by hosting a show of her own called "Each Day One Star," and then playing leading roles in films. Her popularity spread across Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia. In l973 she decided to take on the challenge of Japan, and she started on the path toward international stardom. She swept up the prize for "Best New Singing Star" in Japan's widely known Red and White Song Competition.

The soldiers' sweetheart

Before she had learned Japanese, she would make little notes and explanations on her sheet music in Mandarin Chinese phonetic symbols, Chinese characters, and romanization. Besides getting the pronunciation right, she also wanted to be sure she put the right feeling into each word, and make the right gestures. Everything was a struggle.

Nevertheless, she was able to reap what she had so assiduously sowed. She revealed in an interview, "When I performed in the past, I was always a little nervous. I would just stand there and sing the words, but I didn't dare to really let go with my emotions or gestures. It was only after coming to Japan that I learned what performing really means. I learned how to free myself and how to express my emotions to the utmost. Only this can truly be called singing."

Whereas in Taiwan she was best known for singing folk songs and romantic ditties marked by cute little vocal inflections, in Japan she began to do more demanding ballads and her singing technique matured greatly. Judie Ong, another big star living in Japan, once received from Teng a tape of her practicing her singing technique.

Next Teng did concerts in the US, and broke through the "bamboo curtain" into mainland China, inciting a wave of enthusiasm for "Little Teng." Besides all this she won the Golden Bell award (Taiwan's top award) as best female singer and was selected as one of the nation's Ten Most Outstanding Young Women. Moreover, as the child of a military family, she often returned to Taiwan to put on performances for the troops, and became known as the "soldiers' sweetheart."

How was Ms. Teng able to sweep so many fans off their feet? Of course, she had a face that fit the Chinese ideal of the genteel and sweet young maiden, and she had that fresh and pure "girl-next-door" demeanor. But she was more than that, and any analysis of her popularity must look to her music and her voice.

A wise person knows herself

The highly respected author and music critic Chang Chi-kao once described the essence of pop music:"The lyrics must be connected to daily life, and they must be easy to understand. The tune should have a simple structure, and not be too complex, so that it is easy to sing. It shouldn't have notes that are too high or too low, so that it sounds natural and relaxed, and it is easily approachable and not too demanding to listen to."

Have a listen to Teresa's hit "When Will You Come Back Again?"

A lovely flower does not open often

A lovely view does not exist everywhere

Worries furrow a laughing brow

Missing you brings tears to my eyes

After you leave this night

When will you come back again

Or try "More Than Words Can Say":

Don't know why

But I'm surrounded by worry and fear

Every day I pray

That the loneliness of love

Will soon be chased away.

Another one of her tunes was the film title song "Small Town Story":

There are many stories in a small town

Full of joy and happiness

Life is truly beautiful

Everything is already here.

These tunes were among Teresa's most popular. All of them are ballads crooned in a simple style, thus fitting right into the popular music mold described by Chang Chi-kao. They are smooth and pleasant, and don't put any stress on the listener.

As for her voice, it was well described in an article by University of Southern California cultural theory PhD Yeh Yueh-yu:"It was the sweetness in her voice that made her famous. She had a perfect voice for folk songs and ballads, and she added traditional folk song stylings into Western-style compositions. Her songs basically follow in the tradition of popular Shanghai music of the 1930s and 1940s. Her sound was similar to that of Chou Hsuan in her later years."

Li Wen-yuan, the host of the "Piano in the Dark" radio program, believes that Teresa Teng was very wise, for she really understood herself. She could always display just the right demeanor for any performance,which is something few others can accomplish.

In the eyes of vocalist Fan Yu-wen, Teresa Teng may not have had a very broad range, "but she had great microphone technique." Generally speaking, the singer can only really touch the audience if the microphone is properly manipulated and the singer's breathing is well-controlled. This was especially the case for Teng, because her voice was not very strong, so she had to keep very close to the mike. But Teresa had masterful technique. Not only was there no background noise from her breathing, her enunciation was very clear, and she was able to project her delicate voice in such a way that you felt she was singing right up next to your ear, singing for you and you alone. In Japan her voice was complimented as being "like weeping and like pleading, but with strength, capable of drawing in and hypnotizing listeners."

Real emotion

The well-known songwriter Tsuo Hung-yun describes Teng's voice as "seven parts sweetness, three parts tears." What he most admired about her was how she was able to grasp just the right feeling while singing.

When the China Television Network (CTV) first went on the air, it began by broadcasting the country's first serial drama, "Crystal." Teresa Teng sang the theme song. The song describes a daughter separated from her mother; the daughter spends her days searching for her lost parent. Teng was at that time only 17, and her life was far removed from such tragedy, so she had little understanding of the vicissitudes and tribulations of life. When she first tried singing the song she was smiling. Tsuo then patiently described to her the experiences of the lead character in the drama, so that by the time Teresa went into the recording booth she was actually crying. And in singing the song "More Than Words Can Say," which was in the film Where the Seagulls Fly (based on a story by the romance writer Chiung Yao), Teng fully grasped the sorrow and loneliness of the main female character, deeply moving her listeners. Tsuo believes that this is the song that really made her a star.

Cellist Chang Cheng-chieh went off to study music in Vienna at the age of 14. In that foreign land, in Chinese restaurants or wherever there were Chinese people, one could always hear Teng's crooning. She is the only Mandarin pop singer ever to have left an impression on Chang. "When she sings, you can really feel the emotion. I was especially strongly affected when I would hear her tapes at my friends' houses when I was living abroad." For the classically trained Chang, "It doesn't matter if it's classical or popular, if it is done with emotion, then that's good music."

Heart massage

Teresa arose in Taiwan in an era lacking in stars. Culture critic Weng Chia-ming divides Taiwan's Mandarin pop song history into several stages, including the Teresa-Teng-dominated 1970s; the Feng-Fei-fei-dominated early 1980s; the mid- to late-1980s, which were the heyday of campus folk music; and the 90s, which are the era of commercialized "music factories."

Back in those days, there were so many things to be done, the atmosphere was powerfully affected by anti-communism, and people felt stifled. Opines Weng Chia-ming, "Let's put it this way: The only real solace for Taiwanese was to be found in Little League baseball champions, Yang Li-hua's Taiwanese opera, and Huang Chun-hsiung's puppet theater. The only thing mainlanders had to look forward to, besides seeing their favorite singers on TV programs like 'Galaxy of the Stars' or 'Milky Way Palace," was Teresa Teng!" Weng points out that Mandarin pop music in Taiwan traces its roots back to Shanghai pop music, and Teng can be seen as the heir to that tradition. Her ballads are infused with the sense of longing many mainlanders felt for their old homes. Her songs allowed people a momentary escape from reality and "massaged" their feelings."

After Japan and the United States broke diplomatic relations with the ROC (in 1974 and l978, respectively), the political atmosphere in Taiwan was rather clouded. As Taiwan's first international-level star, "she had the same inspirational impact as the Little League baseball champions," says Weng. Further, she continued to come back to participate in national day festivities and to perform for the armed forces, giving a considerable boost to people's morale.

Emotional rescue

Nevertheless, suggests Magic Stone Music general manager Landy Chang, before her voice reached into the mainland she was still just one of a group of leading stars. It was only after her music penetrated the mainland that she truly established her status as a superstar.

Mainland China at the end of the 1970s was still recovering from the debacle of the Cultural Revolution. Music from the Cultural Revolution was heavy-handed and stiff, and was weighed down by the responsibility of carrying the correct political message. As Kong Qiesheng, a mainland writer living in the US, describes it, "It became a propaganda tool to promote Mao's ideas, just like party newspaper editorials and critical articles." After Deng Xiaoping took power, there was some easing up in the political realm, and only then were limited amounts of Hong Kong and Taiwan music allowed in.

Kong describes the penetration of the bamboo curtain by Teresa's music as being "like the first ray of sunshine." It conveyed a feeling of sincerity, friendliness, and lightness, and it brought images of a more relaxed and emotion-filled lifestyle.

Kong recalls that life in the mainland was already burdened with more than enough heavy symbolism. "Under that kind of stress, people lost sight of and then completely forgot many ordinary feelings--things like appreciating nature, missing one's home, treasuring one's family and friends, experiencing the change of seasons, and coming to some understanding of life just by living it, not to mention something as forbidden as love between the sexes."

For everything from the "greater love" of one's nation to the "smaller love" and emotional lives of ordinary people, a billion mainland Chinese found an outlet for their pent-up feelings in Teresa Teng.

Teresa Teng rules!

But mainland authorities found Teng's gentle, charming, and girlish voice and her mushy ballads to be the worst kind of bourgeois sentimentalism. At the most extreme, "When Will You Come Back Again?" was condemned as "reactionary ideology" and "a betrayal of the nation." Is the song hinting that the Kuomintang will return to recover China? Who exactly is the one who will "come back again"? What is the implication of "coming back"?

Although the authorities at that time issued frequent orders to ban the music of "Little Teng," after the first large-scale shipment of Japanese tape recorders into the mainland a decade ago, it became very common to retape Teresa's albums. Overnight they spread across the mainland, until Teng's fame approached that of the "engineer of reform," Deng Xiaoping. Later on, as Old Deng's popularity waned, people said things like "we'd rather have Little Teng than Old Deng." (Teresa's surname is the same as Xiaoping's, though she used a different romanized form.) One expression even had it, "By day, Deng Xiaoping rules mainland China. But by night, Teresa Teng rules!"

As Zhang Shouyi has described the mainland at that time, per capita income was less than RMB40 per month, and a Teresa Teng tape was going for RMB10 to RMB20. But still working people willingly laid out half a month's salary to buy a cassette on the black market. And at little stalls where palm-sized pictures of Teng sold for the extortionate price of RMB2, supply couldn't keep up with demand.

At that time, at the peak of her popularity, Teng was involved in a scandal over holding a fake passport, and she dropped out of public view. But she restored her reputation during the 1981 "You Are at the Front" shows for soldiers. In 1984 she held an Asian concert tour to celebrate her 15th year as a popular singer, and all the shows were jam-packed. In 1986, the mainland lifted the ban on her songs, and "When Will You Come Back Again" was recategorized as a "revolutionary patriotic song." In fact, her popularity had never been held back by political interference.

Thereafter, however, as the Chinese music scene became more diversified, new artists pushed the old aside, and Teng faded. Living abroad, she rarely made public appearances. Perhaps it was for health reasons. Perhaps she was tired of the grind and aspired to an unfettered life. Perhaps, having already seen the world from the top, she had little interest in remaking her image. In any case, she produced very few new works.

Then came 1989, and the Tienanmen Incident in mainland China. Teng, a supporter of the democracy movement, made her sympathies known through song on many occasions in Taiwan and Hong Kong, making a deep impression. A few days ago Wuerkaixi, one of the leaders of the demonstrators in Tienanmen Square, recalled that in 1993 he and a few fellow-exiles in Paris met on June 6 to commemorate their friends who died in 1989. Teresa came to pay her respects. Standing there before the Place des droits de I' homme, she broke down in tears before finishing even one song. And when she left, she said, in her quiet, sincere way, "no compromise with dictators, no giving in to tyranny."

Perhaps some people feel that Teng became overly politicized. "But," interjects Kong Qiesheng, "I had immense respect for her basic sense of morality. She never had any mixed good-and-bad judgments about the Tienanmen incident. She was always deeply pained about the martyred compatriots there, and she had great empathy for others and would have liked to alleviate all the suffering of mankind." These are feelings that one would think all people should have, but Teng felt them very sincerely, and unreservedly expressed them.

A pop music classic

Let us go a step further to understand Teng and her significance for Mandarin pop music. Yeh Yueh-yu, a scholar of cultural theory, pointed out in an in-depth analytical piece that, attractive as Teng's voice undeniably was, there are different interpretations of her historical significance. Because she presented a soft and gentle mood aimed at warming the hearts of men, feminist theorists might say that she is the classic product of the culture of a male-dominated society. But cultural theory emphasizes the right of women to express their femininity, and Teng's songs do just that. "People listen to pop music to play a role and focus on themselves, because it gives people a chance to place themselves in the position of the character in the song."

One scholar of mass communications looks at Teng from the perspective of cognitive psychology. Listening to a song is in fact a "cooperative activity," with interaction between the singer and the audience. For many Teresa Teng fans, male and female alike, her songs are forever intertwined with fond memories of their youth. And it is particularly now, after her death, that her fans can hear in her songs the emotions, memories, and melancholy of the passing of time. As Chou Chih-wen has written, "Few people can live without warmth and nostalgia."

Amidst the harsh realties of everyday life, Teng symbolized the gentility and self-restraint of the idealized traditional Chinese woman, qualities that seem to be waning. Her death also punctuates the end of that era of popular music, and formally transfers her to the status of a "classic" in the history of Chinese popular culture.

The singer is gone, but her songs float through the air. She leaves behind posthumous glory and fanfare, and countless grieving fans. Teresa Teng is by no means forgotten. On main thoroughfares and in little lanes, in supermarkets, in record stores, in taxicabs.... everywhere you turn you can hear her sweet voice resonating:

The singing has stopped

Drink a final cup of wine

I chat and talk of anything

To ease your troubled mind

Life has few opportunities for intoxication

Why not look forward to them?

Come, have another glass

Drink it dry!

After you leave this night

When will you come back again?

[Picture Caption]

p.6

Having done so many shows for the troops, Teng earned the nickname "soldiers' sweetheart" (photo by Tsai Sen-chi CTS)

p.8

In a rare moment of leisure, Teresa practices calligraphy at home. (photo by Kuo Chao- fang)

p.8

In 1967, Teng appeared in a traditional drama at the Orient Restaurant.

p.8

A family portrait from 1970.

p.9

The daughter of a military family, Teresa began giving special performances for the armed forces even as child. Pictured here at Wuchiu, she is wearing a commander's cap.

p.10

With her sweet and adorable girlish looks, Teng was loved by young and old alike. (photo by Chen Ching-hua)

p.11

Skilled at ballads based on Hubei folk opera as well as at romantic ditties, the young Teresa--even when dressed up as a boy--still looked fresh and winsome. (upper right photo courtesy of TTV)

p.11

(below) Teng attracted countless admirers across Chinese societies world wide. (photo by Chen Wei)

p.12

In 1994, Teng appeared in the Whampoa Forever shows for the armed forces . She took this photo with some officers, giving her famous "V" sign. (photo by Tsai Sen-chi of CTS)

p.12

She was the first Chinese singer to give a concert in Las Veqas.

p.12

In 1984 she was selected as one of the Ten Most Outstanding Young Women in the nation. The award was presented by the then Governor of Taiwan--and now President--Lee Teng-hui.

p.13

(right) In 1986 Teng performed on Japan's NHK in the guise of a bride. That Teresa never married was her mother's greatest regret.

p.14

It would be no exaggeration to say that among Chinese Teng's are the most widely distributed CDs and cassettes of all.

p.15

The only TV serial in which Teng played the lead role was TTV's "Always Remember This Love." She played an unfortunate orphan girl who became romantically involved with the character played by lead actor Chiang Ming.

p.16

(above) Fan Kuo Shih-hsi has collected a huge amount of memorabilia. (photo by Hsueh Chi-kuang)

p.16

One fan showed his devotion by collecting information about Teng's albums in a notebook.

p.17

Teresa's death left countless fans grieving. To remember her, her admirers have asked not only that postage stamps bearing her image be issued, but that a commemorative coin be minted. (photo by Yang Hai-kuang, Min Sheng Daily News)

1953 ~ 1995

English name: Teresa Teng

Stage name: Teng Li-chun

Given name: Teng Li-yun

Born: January 29, 1953

Father's provincial origin: Hebei

Place of birth: Yunlin County, Taiwan

Height: 165

Blood type: O

Interests: Singing, dance

Favorite food: Pigs' feet

Favorite color: Violet

Survived by: Mother, three elder brothers, one younger brother

Her Life in Brief

1959: Began studying under Teacher Li of the 93rd Entertainment Unit of the Air Force's Anti-aircraft Artillery, thus beginning her life as a singer.

1964: Participated in the Huang Mei Song Contest held by CTS, taking first prize with the song "Visiting Ying Tai."

1965: Enrolled in the Cheng Sheng voice training class. Won first prize at a singing competition held by the Golden Horse record company. Performed six live shows for BCC radio.

1967: Became hostess of the CTV program "Each Day One Star," marking her as a rising star.

1968: Appeared in Taipei performance halls.

1969: Began recording songs and acting in TV dramas. Invited to perform at charity concert in Singapore

1970: Played her first leading film role in Thank You Boss, and also did a promotional concert tour for the film, creating a sensation. First trip to Hong Kong to perform with the Kai Sheng Variety Troupe.

1971 : Began to tour in Southeast Asia. Selected as Hong Kong's "Bai Hua You Arts Auction Charity Queen," the youngest ever to be so named.

1972: Selected as one of the ten most popular singers in Hong Kong. Filmed Miss Music Fan with Chang Chung.

1973: Signed a contract with Polydor Records of Japan and went to Japan for training.

1974: (March) Released her first Japanese album, which was a smash hit.

1975: Won the top prize at Japan's 18th Album Awards. Won award for best new artist in Japan. Signed on with Hong Kong's Polygram Records. Released her first Love Songs of an Island Nation album.

1976: Released the number 19 selling album in Japan. First personal concert in Hong Kong.

1977: Signed a contract with Taiwan Television and began her TV show The Songs of Teresa Teng. Won a television prize in Japan.

1978: (September) Second personal concert in Hong Kong.

1979: First personal concerts in the US and Canada. Stayed in the US to study English and record an album.

1980: (July) During a concert tour of the US, performed at Lincoln Center, New York, and became the first Chinese singer to perform in The Music Center of Los Angeles (site of the Academy Awards). Teng's music penetrated the "bamboo curtain" as "Little Teng" fever spread in mainland China. In Taiwan, won Golden Bell as best woman singer. In Hong Kong, released first personal Cantonese-language album, which went platinum in a short time.

1981 : Concert tour of Southeast Asia. (April) Gave seven concerts in Hong Kong, setting a new record for consecutive concerts by a single artist. Returned to Taiwan at mid-year to perform for the armed forces, and made a two-hour "You Are at the Front" special for TTV. Received five gold records at a single time, an unprecedented feat in Hong Kong.

1982: Began preparatory work for the album Faded Feelings. At Chinese New Year, had an unprecedentedly successful concert at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, and became the first person of Chinese ancestry to sign a contract to sing there.

1983: Released Faded Feelings, whose songs are based on Tang and Song dynasty poetry. Released her second Cantonese album, Walking the Road of Life, in Hong Kong. At the end of 1983 and into 1984, held a concert tour to celebrate 15 years as a singer.

1984: Released the album I'm in Your Debt. Selected as one of the Ten Most Outstanding Young Women in the 10th year of such awards made by the ROC government.

1985: Her song "Lover" set a new record by staying at the top of the broadcast charts in Japan for ten weeks.

1987: Release of the album I Only Care About You.

1992: Release ot the album The Unforgettable Teresa Teng.

1993: Participated in the "Eternal Sweetheart" show for soldiers in Taichung, broadcast on CTS.

1994: Participated in the "Whampoa Forever" celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the military academy. This marked her fourth consecutive year of returning to Taiwan to perform for members of the armed forces.

1995: (May 8) Died of an asthma attack in Chiangmai, Thailand. Posthumously awarded the Ministry of Defense's highest honor for civilians, the Kuomintang's "Huahsia Grade 1 Medal," the Overseas Chinese Affairs' Commission's "Hua Guang Grade 1 Medal," and the presidential Paoyang Medal. Her coffin was draped with the national and Kuomintang party flags.

Source: The Great News, Teng Chang-hsi

(photo by Tsai Sen-chi, CTS)

Relevant articles

Recent Articles

繁體

永遠的鄧麗君

文‧谷璘秀 圖‧鄧麗君家屬提供

鄧麗君走了!

五月八日,今年四十三歲的鄧麗君因氣喘病發在泰國猝逝。惡耗一傳出,像顆巨石在華人世界激起陣陣漣漪。不但台港、中國大陸、東南亞等華人世界齊聲惋惜追悼,媒體亦大幅報導,各界追贈的榮譽獎章不斷。日本與鄧麗君有合作關係的唱片公司職員甚至戴黑紗一周以示哀悼。美國紐約時報、時代週刊也登出鄧麗君逝世的消息,並指出她對中國歌迷的影響。

曾風靡華人社會二、三十年的鄧麗君,今日雖然走入歷史,卻是萬千歌迷心中「永遠的情人」。


五月十一日晚上十點,四十五歲的台北水準書局老闆曾大福搭朋友的車南下,到桃園中正機場迎接心中的偶像——鄧麗君。簡單的白棺在機場偌大的貨運站中顯得格外悲涼,曾大福雙手合十,在沉沉的夜堭面郎a目送靈車離去。次日,他跑到市立殯儀館打算向鄧麗君致意,卻因非家屬的身分而落空。

二十多年前,曾大福在金門的大二膽島當醫官,漫長孤寂的服役生涯,因有鄧麗君抒情的歌聲為伴而變得較能忍受。入社會後,遇有不如意事,在她的歌聲中也獲得紓解。從少年十五二十時到青壯年,鄧麗君在他回憶的長河中佔有重要的部分。

他曾在小鄧進入歌壇十五周年的音樂會上瘋狂鼓掌,也在「送炭到泰北」的義賣活動中,喊價十萬元卻還買不到她的一幀照片。除了自己聽歌,親朋好友生日他也都購買鄧麗君的CD、卡帶為贈禮。

鄧麗君死訊忽地傳來,曾大福起初一兩夜不能成眠,接著從早到晚連續聽了十幾天她的錄音帶。書店堣]整日迴盪著她輕輕吟哦的歌聲。

被太太形容為「如喪考妣」的曾大福幽幽地說,他跟太太交代過,有一天自己如果往生,「頭七」只要放鄧麗君的歌給他聽就夠了。

曾大福強調,這樣忠誠的鄧麗君歌迷,並不只他一人。

出道甚早的甜姐兒

出生於一九五三年的鄧麗君,可說是當今華人社會裡知名度最高的女歌星。或許一九七○年以後出生的新新人類不能了解她的魅力所在,稍長一輩的卻能侃侃述說獨鍾於她的理由。

由於父親是平劇票友,經常跟在身邊的鄧麗君也耳濡目染,從小喜歡哼哼唱唱。五、六歲時,鄧麗君就穿著父親的大襯衫、搭條毛巾,頭插扶桑花,在鞋油盒子作成的「麥克風」前,有模有樣地唱起歌仔戲。上小學後,唱得比別人大聲、也比別人好聽的她,開始嶄露頭角,頻頻在遊藝會、晚會中表演。後來以一曲黃梅調「訪英台」獲得歌唱比賽冠軍,初三時放棄學業,開始在歌廳客串演出。

其後,她陸續參加電視「群星會」表演、主持「每日一星」,並主演電影,歌迷、影迷遍及港台、東南亞地區……。一九七三年,她決心赴日接受磨練與考驗,開始向「國際藝人」的角色邁進。旋即獲得日本極富盛名的紅白歌唱大賽「最佳新進歌星獎」。

軍中情人

在還不通日文時,她在歌譜滿記著注音符號、國字、羅馬拼音和註解,除了要正確發音,還得揣摩表達出詞意和感情,再搭配動作,一切都很辛苦。

然而,辛苦耕耘後才能含淚收割。「在從前,唱歌對我來說只有一個唱字,站在台上心裡還有點害怕,感情和外型上都不敢太過分。但自從到了日本,才明瞭表演是怎麼回事,我學會了放開自己和盡情地表現,這才叫做真正的唱歌」,鄧麗君在一次採訪中坦承。而她也在此時修正了過去唱小調慣有的俏皮尾音,發聲技巧也更臻成熟。旅日紅星翁倩玉就曾收到她寄贈的一卷練習發音技巧的錄音帶。

接著,她又到美國開演唱會,歌聲也衝破竹幕,在大陸掀起「小鄧」熱潮,此外還獲得金鐘獎最佳女演唱人獎、參加勞軍義演、當選十大傑出女青年……。由於身為軍人子弟,她曾多次回國勞軍,而被喻為「軍中情人」。

若要探究鄧麗君擄獲廣大歌迷之心的原因,除了她有典型中國女子甜美的臉蛋、如鄰家女孩般清新的氣質、模樣外,須從她的歌曲、歌聲及時空背景來分析。

聰慧可人,了解自己

文化界極推崇的作家張繼高曾在文章中提及流行歌曲的特質:「詞一定很生活化,通俗易懂;曲大都結構簡單,不尚繁複,因而唱來容易上口,沒有太高或太低的音階,聽來也就輕鬆自然,易於接近和聆聽……。」

試聽鄧麗君唱的「何日君再來」:好花不常開,好景不常在,愁堆解笑眉,淚灑相思帶。今宵離別後,何日君再來……。和「千言萬語」:不知道為了什麼?憂愁它圍繞著我。我每天都在祈禱,快趕走愛的寂寞。或是電影主題曲「小城故事」:小城故事多,充滿喜和樂……人生境界真善美,這堣w包括。這些鄧麗君最廣為流傳的歌曲,不管是小調曲式或俗稱「靡靡之音」的樂風,都符合了前述的特質,聽來舒服、暢順,沒有壓力。

在歌聲方面,鄧麗君「以甜潤嗓音著名,其小調式的唱腔在西式曲法中加入了傳統民歌的風味,她的歌曲基本上承襲了三、四○年代上海流行曲的風格,有類似周璇後期的味道」,美國南加州大學文化理論博士葉月瑜為文指出。

廣播節目「午夜琴聲」主持人李文媛認為,鄧麗君十分聰慧,非常了解自己,在台上的任何表演都「恰如其分」,而這也是旁人最不易做到的地方。

在聲樂家范宇文眼中,鄧麗君的音域其實不廣,「但運用麥克風的技巧極佳」。一般說來,手持麥克風唱歌,呼吸控制得好,聽與唱的人才容易互相感受。尤其她的音量小,嘴必須貼近麥克風才行。而鄧麗君深諳個中三昧,不但沒有「氣」的雜音,且咬字清楚,加上輕柔細緻的音色,就像熨貼在聽者耳邊、只為他一人唱的一樣。日本歌壇也曾讚譽鄧麗君的歌聲「如泣如訴……令聽眾著迷」。

真情流露,直指人心

流行歌壇知名作詞、作曲家左宏元形容鄧麗君的聲音帶著「七分甜、三分淚」的特質。而最讓他稱道的是鄧麗君唱歌時對感情的掌握。

中視開播後第一部,也是台灣第一部連續劇「晶晶」的主題曲,即由她演唱。這首描述與母親失散的女兒,天涯海角尋親的歌曲,離年僅十六歲的鄧麗君的生活閱歷太遠,不解人世滄桑悲歡的她,剛開始唱時還咯咯笑了出來。左宏元耐心地對她描述女主角的遭遇,鄧麗君進錄音室唱到最後,竟潸然淚下。而在唱瓊瑤電影「海鷗飛處」插曲「千言萬語」時,鄧麗君掌握了歌中女主角內心的淒清與寂寞,深深打動了人心。左宏元認為這是她一炮而紅的關鍵歌曲。

大提琴家張正傑十四歲就負笈至維也納學音樂,人在異鄉,無論是在僑界或中國餐館,聽到的都是鄧麗君的歌聲,她也是他唯一有印象的國語歌星。「她唱歌時真情流露,尤其我常年在海外,在朋友家中聽到她的錄音帶時,感受很強。」對學古典音樂科班出身的張正傑而言,「只要帶著感情唱出的,不論古典或流行,就是好的作品。」

溫柔的解放,人心的按摩

鄧麗君在台灣崛起的時間,可說是一個缺少明星的年代。文化評論作家翁嘉銘指出,若粗分政府遷台後國語流行歌曲的幾個階段,一九七○年代可謂由鄧麗君獨領風騷,八○年代初期鳳飛飛風靡一時,八○年代末開展民歌潮流,九○年代則是商業化「唱片工業」開始運作的分水嶺。

政府遷台、百廢待舉之際,社會上反共氣氛濃烈,人民精神苦悶。「如果說當時本省籍人民的精神安慰是楊麗花的歌仔戲、黃俊雄的布袋戲;外省籍人士的寄託恐怕就是群星會、銀河璇宮等歌唱節目和鄧麗君了!」翁嘉銘說,台灣國語流行歌曲的發源來自上海,而鄧麗君可以稱作上海時代流行歌曲的繼承人。她的小調滿足了許多人的懷鄉之情,她的情歌讓人能暫時逃避現實,發揮了「人心的按摩作用」。

而在我與美、日斷交之後,政治陷於「低氣壓」,鄧麗君是台灣首位國際級的巨星,「與紅葉棒球隊一樣,帶給國人很大的興奮」,翁嘉銘說。此外,鄧麗君持續地回台參加國家慶典、勞軍活動,也相當程度地鼓舞了國人的民心士氣。

以歌聲「統治」大陸

然而,磨岩唱片公司總經理張培仁認為,在鄧麗君的歌聲進入中國大陸之前,她只是星河中芸芸歌手之一。真正的巨星地位,是在她的歌進入大陸之後才奠立的。

七○年代末、八○年代初期的中國大陸,剛經歷文化大革命的浩劫。文革時期的歌曲陽剛、沉重,肩負「歌頌」與「聲討」的政治功能,「幾乎成了毛語錄、黨報社論,大批判文章的同類項和揚聲器」,大陸旅美作家孔捷生描述。鄧小平上台後,政治氣候較鬆動,港台歌曲才能有限地流入大陸。

張培仁形容鄧麗君的歌曲滲入封閉多年的竹幕,「如第一道射進來的陽光」,多了一些誠懇、善意和光明的感覺,傳達了更輕鬆、更富情感的生活方式。

孔捷生指出大陸人的日常生活空間已充斥了太多超重的符號,「在其壓迫下,人們喪失而後亦遺忘了許多普通的情感,如對大自然的愛;對家園的懷想思念;對親情與友誼的珍惜;對季節與景物更迭的感喟;對人生之旅的感悟;更不必說已成了禁忌的兩性之間的愛情……。」

從國家民族的「大愛」到市井小民個人的「小情小愛」,十億大陸人民在鄧麗君抒情的歌聲中找到渲洩感情的出口。

「老鄧」不如「小鄧」?

但對中共官方來說,鄧麗君的「輕、軟、媚、嗲」及風花雪月正是典型的靡靡之音;「何日君再來」也屬具有反動意識的「漢奸歌曲」:君再來,誰是「君」呢?「再來」又是什麼涵義?

雖然中共隨即下令禁唱「小鄧」之歌,但十年前日本首批銷往大陸的小型單聲道錄音機,在那時已很普及,也發揮了效用,人們一再地轉錄鄧麗君的歌曲,一夕之間響徹大江南北,聲勢直逼「改革總工程師」鄧小平。而後遂有「不要老鄧要小鄧」、「老鄧不如小鄧」、「鄧小平在白天統治大陸,鄧麗君在晚上統治大陸」之說。

中國時報記者張守一在文章中描寫當時盛況:大陸平均所得不到四十人民幣,鄧麗君的錄音帶一卷就高達十∼二十人民幣,工人卻仍願花半個月的薪資,在黑市搶購她的錄音帶。而街口的小販掛著她的照片,一張巴掌大的照片索價二元,仍供不應求……。

幾番起伏,歌聲依舊

此時處於巔峰狀態的鄧麗君,曾因持有假護照引起風波而暫時隱退,後在一九八一年的「君在前哨」勞軍義演中重振聲勢。八四年,舉行紀念入歌壇十五週年的亞洲巡迴演唱,場場爆滿。八六年,小鄧的歌聲在大陸解禁,「何日君再來」也被平反為「革命愛國歌曲」。事實上,她的歌聲不曾因政治上陰晴不定的氣候而中斷過。

爾後,因華人社會風起雲湧出更多元的流行音樂,後浪推前浪,小鄧逐漸淡出歌壇,旅居海外,甚少公開露面。或許是健康狀況的考慮;或因厭倦了蜚短流長,嚮往無拘無束的自由生活;或由於已登高峰,對是否轉型或再求突破而患得患失,她此後鮮有新作問世。

一九八九年中國大陸爆發「天安門事件」,支持民運的鄧麗君在港、台許多場合以歌聲聲援,讓人印象深刻。當時民運領袖之一吾爾開希日前回憶,九三年六月四日,他在巴黎與其他流亡者、留學生一起悼念死去的朋友。鄧麗君也到場致意,在人權廣場前哽咽流淚,無法完整地唱完一首歌;更在離開前誠摯地對他們說:「不要向專制妥協,不要向暴政屈服!」

或許有人認為鄧麗君已被過分泛政治化,「倒是她最基本的道德底線令我感佩萬分:她對六四事件從不含糊的善惡判斷,對殉難同胞的沉痛憑弔,對人類苦難的同情和援救的愛心」,孔捷生指出,這些絕大多數人好像都應有的情操,鄧麗君卻能真誠、毫無保留地表達出來。

流行歌壇的經典人物

如果再進一步了解鄧麗君與國語流行歌的時代意義,專攻文化理論的葉月瑜有深入的分析,她在文章中指出,鄧麗君的歌聲具有迷人的多重性,連帶也產生不同的閱讀。因她抒的是女性之情,解的是男性之悶,傳統女性主義批評可以說她的歌是典型父權社會文化的產物;而文化理論則強調女性聽眾詮釋權的重要及她們對歌曲愛好的原因。「角色的扮演、自戀的表現,是許多人在唱流行歌時,反客為主的自我創造。」

一位傳播學者以認知心理學的角度解釋,聽歌其實是一種「合作」的行為,唱者與聽者都在進行互動。對鄧麗君的許多男女歌迷而言,她的歌與歷史、與己身的生命有激盪和共鳴。在她猝逝後,歌迷在歌聲中尤其能感受自己在流金歲月的感情、回憶與鄉愁。

「溫柔與懷舊,是很多人生命情調中不可缺少的部分」,台大中文系副教授周志文如此寫道。

在現實生活中,鄧麗君所象徵中國女性婉約、溫柔的特質,已漸式微。她的猝逝,無疑也代表了那個時代流行音樂典範的消逝;而她也正式在現代華人社會的通俗文化史上,成為經典人物。

歌聲悠揚,斯人已杳,死後哀榮、歌迷同悲的鄧麗君,其實並不寂寞。一位歌迷說:「天堂裡一定也有很多她的歌迷吧!」而大街小巷中、超市、餐廳、唱片行堙B計程車上……處處飄盪著她的甜媚嗓音:「停唱陽關疊,重擎白玉杯。慇勤頻致語,牢牢撫君懷……人生難得幾回醉,不歡更何待?啊,再喝一杯,乾了吧!今宵離別後,何日君再來……」

〔圖片說明〕

P.6

鄧麗君因多次參加勞軍表演,被喻為「永遠的軍中情人」。(華視蔡森棋攝)

P.8

難得有閒暇,鄧麗君在家中練毛筆字。(郭肇舫攝)

P.8

一九六七年,鄧麗君(左)在東方餐廳演出「狀元及第」古裝劇。

P.8

七○年代全家福。

P.9

出身自軍人家庭,鄧麗君從小就開始「勞軍」,這是她在烏坵的留影,頭上戴的還是指揮官的帽子。

P.10

有一副娃娃臉的鄧麗君十分俏麗甜美,老少歌迷都喜歡她。(陳清華攝)

P.11

擅長黃梅調與小調的鄧麗君,古裝扮相無論是男是女,都清麗可人。(右上圖由台視提供)

P.11

(下)鄧迷人數之多難以估計,且遍及華人世界。(陳尉攝)

P.12

九四年在「永遠的黃埔」勞軍活動中,鄧麗君與軍官合影,並擺出她最著名的V字手勢。(華視蔡森棋攝)

P.12

她是第一位在美國賭城表演的華人歌星。

P.12

八四年她榮獲十大傑出女青年獎,由當時的省主席、現任總統李登輝先生頒獎。

P.13

(右)八六年鄧麗君在日本NHK電視台以新娘造型演唱。她一生不曾披婚紗,是母親心理的最痛。

P.14

如果說鄧麗君的CD、卡帶是華人社會流傳最廣者,應不為過。

P.15

台視「天涯常念舊時情」是鄧麗君唯一主演的電視劇。她扮演身世淒涼的孤女,與男主角江明有一段動人的戀情。

P.16

(上)歌迷郭世炘家中搜集各種鄧麗君的作品。(薛繼光攝)

P.16

一位歌迷在筆記本上登錄鄧麗君的唱片資料,可以看出他的用心。

P.17

鄧麗君猝逝,萬千歌迷同悲。為了紀念她,鄧迷希望有關單位除了印製她的郵票外,還能發行紀念幣。(民生報楊海光攝)

P.18

鄧麗君檔案

1953∼1995

本名:鄧麗筠

英文名字:TERESA TENG

生日:1953.1.29.

籍貫:河北省

出生地:台灣省雲林縣

身高:165公分

血型:O型

興趣:唱歌、跳舞

最喜歡的食物:豬腳

最喜歡的顏色:紫色系列

家庭情形:母親、三兄、一弟

(華視蔡森棋攝)

X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!
更快速更方便!