“Tinh – Acoustic Rain” is one of those recordings that only comes along every once in a while that challenges the listeners to stop what they are doing and actually listen.“Tinh-Acoustic Rain” has thunder and lightning that will pull you out and into the wonder of a passing storm. There are rumblings in the distance, strong wind in the trees, shafts of light peering through the dark gray clouds, and occasional rainbows that inspire and lift the spirit. What is truly remarkable is that all of this is achieved with the honesty and simplicity of a solo effort, the intimate outpouring of notes from six strings of the acoustic guitar. What you have to decide now is whether you are ready to stop and listen to some sincere and heartfelt music.” John Doan, Recording Artist
There were times in college that I felt so isolated and alone. I forgot who I was. Everything I ate at the time was not Asian food. I only had white friends. I was submerging into the American system. I couldn't speak Vietnamese anymore.
I picked up the guitar and started to compose music. "My Vietnamese Suite" was my personal therapy.
It was the only way that I could talk about the Viet Nam War...through my music.
“What a beautiful record. I listened to it on a rainy night in the country, and found it quite evocative.”
Jonathan Rose, President
Recordings and Films
I love Christmas music. I listened to Christmas music before I could even speak English and I loved it.
This winter when the snow is falling, put on "Christmas Night". Sit back. The music will take you through so many Christmas memories, even the ones that you have long forgotten.
I would have never imagined recording a vocal album in Vietnamese. Sometimes music and memory come into your life as if by accident, but the expression of them becomes inevitable. I'd like to tell the story of how I re-encountered the compositions of a beloved Viet composer, Trinh Cong Son.
During my visit to Viet Nam on Tet 2003, I went out to sing karaoke with some relatives. In a small, music-filled room with about a dozen people staring at a 19-inch TV screen, I was taken back in time by one of the songs I heard, "Diem Xua." I remembered hearing the melody 30 years ago when I was a little boy.
"I love that song!'" I exclaimed. "Who wrote that song?" In the dimly lit room, someone yelled back, "Trinh Cong Son."
On the ride home, sitting on the back of my cousin Minh's 100cc motorbike, I felt homesick for Viet Nam. “How could this be possible?”, I thought, “I am home.”. I felt as if I had taken a 30-year nap. The songs started coming back to me in broken Vietnamese. I sang and hummed them to Minh, asking her "Who wrote them?" All of them were Trinh Cong Son's.
I asked Minh to take me to a CD store the next day, so I could buy some of his music. She told me that was impossible: all the music he wrote before 1975 had been banned by the government.
"You can't ban music." I said, confused. I've never heard of such a thing!"
Minh laughed. "There's a lot you don't know about the new Viet Nam."
When I got back to the U.S., my initial intention was to do solo guitar arrangements of Trinh Cong Son's love songs, which had not been banned. His music was known mostly through the incredible voice of the female singer Khanh Ly. After several months of research on the Internet, I found songs about the war, about Viet Nam, that Trinh Cong Son himself recorded with just vocals and guitar. I was in heaven. I don't consider myself a singer. Six months before I started to record this CD, I couldn't carry on a conversation in Vietnamese.
I had to do what I thought was the right thing to do. The words to Trinh Cong Son's songs are so beautiful and poignant. To do a tribute and omit these words would be like describing clouds to a blind person.
Trinh Cong Son was born in February 1939. His popularity grew when his anthems to peace swept across the country, and his music were listened to by both North and South Vietnamese soldiers during what he considered the Civil War. Both governments banned the sale or broadcast of his music when soldiers from both sides refused to fight after listening to it.
Trinh Cong Son's dream of a peaceful Viet Nam was realized in 1975. His family and friends fled the country days before the war ended, but he chose not to. "If I leave my homeland, I'm nothing," he had said. He was sent to a re-education camp near the border of Laos. He was released four years later, under the condition that he could no longer write protest songs. "I have not written anything beautiful since '75," he said.
Many Vietnamese living abroad criticized Trinh Cong Son for being a Communist, because he did not speak out about the current regime. Viet refugees protested Khanh Ly's U.S. performances of Trinh Cong Son's songs. The current government in Viet Nam…opposed to his characterization of the “Civil War,” instead of the “American War” against U.S. imperialism - continues to ban his protest songs. Some Viet people have not heard them for more than 30 years.
Trinh Cong Son died in April of 2001.
This tribute CD is not just a testament to the Viet people and their struggle, but to everyone who walks this earth. This album is not about war. It is about humanity.
The translations have been made available so that more people can understand the words of this beloved musician. Trinh Cong Son's words can be so poetic, as is the difficulty of the translating from one language to another. Please understand the point of view, both in the interpretation of the music and the language, is simply one artist seeking to know the heart and mind of a fellow artist -- and to share this personal journey with others.
Listen with your heart, in the name of humanity.
Trinh Cong Son's music reaches the depth of my soul.
I had the chance to visit his house after his death. In the photo, I was playing a guitar of his and it had not been touched by anyone else since he died.
I felt as if Trịnh Công Sơn was there watching me as I was playing. What a privilege that was.
Your music will always be in the hearts of the Vietnamese people, chú (uncle) Trịnh.