Friday, May 02, 2003

my leslie phase

His movies. His music.
I have been immersing myself with Leslie Cheung the past week.

When I heard about his death on April's Fool, I shoved it aside as some sick person's idea of an April Fool's joke. When the media printed stories and had tributes to this 'legendary' performer, I didn't tune in or pay attention to them. I'd even thought it amusing that some of the people in the studio cried while watching a video of his concert. Yes! I'm a unfeeling bitch who laughes at others' unhappiness.

Well, what was I suppose to do? Cry along? I didn't grow up listening to his music or his movies. Leslie wasn't much a part of my growing life.

I vaguely remember his 'Monica' playing over the radio while I was living in Kepong cause one of my aunt's a fan of his. About the only time in my life where I listened to chinese music. The same time I listened to Anita Mui and also the time I learned the words to a Malay song - Si Jantung Hati. After that, I hardly listened to chinese music anymore. The next time would be circa 1997 or 1998 when I saw some Sammi Cheng movie and liked the songs that were in there.

So, his death didn't make much of an impact on me.

His movie "He's a Woman, She's a Man" was the only chinese movie that I had wanted to own. I remember watching it at the pro-shop after squash training and loving it and the song Jui (Chase) so much that I tried to learn the song. Not an easy task as I don't read chinese and can only understand the basics of conversational cantonese ... but learn it I did. With the help of some friends, I wrote down the phonetics for it. I don't know where that piece of paper is now. Probably thrown away some time ago.

I had also always wanted to watch "Farewell My Concubine" cause I've always heard that it's a really good movie. I did and I loved it. There are some parts of it that I don't quite understand why it happened, probably missed something and would have to watch it again, but I liked it.

Then last week, I borrowed a CD of Leslie Cheung from a colleague. You see ... I was not familiar with his songs except for those mentioned above nor would I recognise his voice even if I had heard it over the radio. So, I was curious. Why was this man a legend?

I think he sings a little different from the current batch of male chinese singers. It has this floaty feeling to it. Somehow it makes me think that it's a little cantonese opera like. Although why I would think that quite puzzles me as well as I've never heard/seen a cantonese opera. I told my colleague that maybe that's the way that singers of his time, the late 70s early 80s, sang as his other contemporary, Roman Tam, sounds a little like that as well. Leslie's sounds more soothing compared to Roman though.

An article of a DJ turned singer who quoted Leslie as one of his idols probably had the best description of his voice ... sexy. And yes, I do agree. I think he's what people would call a crooner?

While listening to some of his songs and watching his movies, I came to understand why those people at the studio cried, why some would call him a legend. It was cause he was truly talented. His good looks helps as well but then he wasn't just a face. He had talent as well.

It's such a waste that he felt his problems could not be resolved and he had to take his own life. My sense of loss however is selfish. I would not be able to listen to him sing new songs. New movies will never star this actor ever again. There will no longer be anything new coming from him. I cannot be a fan of his and look forward to the day that I might see him live in concert now that I've discovered that I like his music.

No more.

Not any longer.

How sad is it that I am to discover what millions of others have known and enjoyed the past two or three decades only after his death? Are there more like me out there? More like me who appreciate him like Van Gogh; appreciated only after death? But he's probably more like Picasso, appreciated before and even after death.

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