Union Songs

Labor Lullaby

Early in 2002 I came across a web site of an organisation called "Taiwan Labor Front" and discovered that they had produced a CD of union songs called "Labor Lullaby". I tracked down a source of this CD and was very exited to receive a copy. There are 12 tracks in a number of lanquages: Hakka, Holo, Amis, Mandarin. The song styles vary too, from regional traditional folk song to local versions of country and western, rock, nakasi and rap.

Labor Lullaby was published on May 1 2000 and the song titles translate as follows

  1. What Are We (Still) Waiting For?
  2. Bad Mood
  3. Voice of the Indigenous Peoples
  4. Poor, the Strength Gone
  5. Doing Labor for Others
  6. The Joy of Being Lazy
  7. A-Mei's Store
  8. Flower Girl
  9. Unemployed Man
  10. Labor March
  11. Karaoke version of track 4
  12. Karoke version of track 2

The performers include Labour Exchange Band, A-Tiong and Jiang Jin-Sing.

Tranlator (Henry H. Tan-Tenn)

The translations provided here tend to be literal. Song titles within brackets are transliterations in the main language of a given song. Where more than one language is used, language names are listed in the sequence in which they appear. A language name is listed only if words appear in significant quantity. Holo, for example, is not listed for song 5 as it uses no more than a few phrases of it. Translator's comments are information not found on the album and include websites, biographical notes.

Album Title: Labor Lullaby [Lau-gong Yao-lan-cyu]
Length: 46:26
Publisher: Taiwan Labor Front (May 1, 2000)
Track: 1
Song Title: What Are We (Still) Waiting Here For [Ngai-ten Han Ti Ya Ten Mak-kai]
Language(s): Hakka
Brothers and sisters who earn the wages
Now the jobs have become worse and worse still.
Because the capitalists, they have
Banded together.
The propertied class is full of bliss.
They've fooled [?] the government, set up the media
Cursed the fortune of our livelihood.
Brothers and sisters who earn the wages
Why are we waiting here for like idiots.
Brothers and sisters who live off the wages
Now the wages are thinner and thinner still.
Because the capitalists, they have
Crossed the seas and courted each other.
The faces of capitalism are full of content.
They've moved the capitals, laid off the workers, shut down the factories
Imported foreign labor to incite dog fights.
Brothers and sisters who live off the wages
Why are we waiting here for, dazed.
Lyrics by:
Music by:
Arrangement by:
Performed by: Labor Exchange Band
Translator's comment: http://www.leband.net/

Track: 3
Song Title: Voice of the Indigenous Peoples [Yuan-jhu-min de Sin-sheng]
Language(s): Mandarin; Amis (3rd verse)
The Aborigines on Taiwan, by nature joyful, diligent, people-loving,
In the cities to realize their ideals,
Every morning leaving early coming home late, in order to survive.
Friends, please hear their voices.
The Aborigines in the cities, not afraid of the wind, the rain, the big sun.
They’re searching for their ideals.
At night they gather at home, to drink a cup of old rice wine from home-country.
Friends, see the purity of their heart.
[3rd verse sung in Pangcah, not translated.]
Lyrics by: Jiang Jin-Sing
Music by: Jiang Jin-Sing
Arrangement by: Jhang Jheng-Siong
Performed by: Jiang Jin-Sing
Description: n/a
Translator's comment: Amis is an indigenous Austronesian language in Taiwan. Jiang is the eldest son of the late Difang and Inai, the Amis huband-and-wife dual whose performance was stolen by Enigma in their 1993 hit "Return to Innocence". His other works can be heard at [http://www.watahope.org.tw/feijuyuenbao/cd_media/cd07.htm] According to this site, Jiang specializes in Nakasi, originally a Japanese form, strongly associated with traditional working class culture in Taiwan.

Track: 7
Song Title: A-Mei's Store [A-Mei de Dian]
Language(s): Mandarin
I call her A-Mei.
Because she’s the owner of A-Mei Food Shop. She makes good dishes; her person draws me even closer to her. She often wears black stocking and twenty-dollar slippers, asking us what we’re ordering. Then swiftly she turns, fry pan in her right hand, ? in her left. Every night at mid-night when I go home, it’s become my habit to see her sitting in the shop, legs crossed, smoking a cigarette, eating appetizers, reading the paper; only then is my day complete. She’s my idol; I always say so to my friends.
A-Mei has about her something I much respect, maybe it’s the way she carries herself, though I can’t quite describe it. Maybe it’s the combination of resilience and a strong will, the vitality of life. And that’s the kind of beauty in Taiwanese women I am familiar with. At night seeing her sitting alone by the shop front, smoke swirling out of her mouth, her eyes focused on the distance beyond me, I’d like to ask her, “A-Mei, what’s on your mind?”
Lyrics by: Jhu Sin-Ying
Music by: Jhu Sin-Ying
Arrangement by: Jhu Sin-Ying, Syu Chang-Da
Performed by: Jhu Sin-Ying
Translator's comment: Twenty NT is less than one USD. These food shops are small family-owned, family-run restaurants found everywhere in Taiwan.

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