Old Time Love (옛사랑, 1991) and Love like A Ray of Sunshine (사랑은 한줄기 햇살처럼, 1988) are songs composed by Lee Young Hoon (이영훈, 1960-2008) and sung by Lee Moon Sae (이문세, 1958-). They are two of the finest love songs by this outstanding composer-singer duo who produced a number of acclaimed pop ballads in the 80s and 90s. Their songs seem to paint a prettiest portrayal of a love that came around to someone in that dreamlike time of his life, and which was too beautiful to last.
Old Time Love
사랑은 한줄기 햇살처럼
Love, like A Ray of Sunshine
Lee Young Hoon, who started his musical career writing classical genre music, crossed over into popular music when he met Lee Moon Sae in 1985, a fledgling singer at the time even though he was already successful as a radio music program host. The two produced huge hits of high brow ballads one after another and set all time sales records time and again. LYH’s brand of ballads was ground breaking because, on top of the solid melody and musical arrangement, the songs also had such high quality lyrics and classy vocals, creating a highly refined poetic songs that seemed a cut above the general pop music of the time. Many of the songs were about love, remembrance of a past love, the anguished emotions of parting and such, written in a language steeped in heartache of the exalted kind. Critics agree they notched the state of the Korean pop music up one level and while doing so became the catalyst for the Korean songs in taking back the music market from the English-based songs then dominant.
Old Time Love from the album Lee Moon Sae 7 is one of the best known and most representative of the songs of Lee-Lee collaboration. About a man looking back with regrets on his old time sweetheart now gone for good, it depicts this common, poignant feeling that many of us harbor in one form or other. As usual for their hit songs, the melody has such a strong hook that immediately pulls you in. Combined with beautiful lyrics of remembrance, it makes for one of the best of the genre.
Love like a Ray of Sunshine on Lee Moon Sae 5 is another one in the same vein, albeit a little lesser known. Its lyrics are even more poetic, using visual metaphors like rustling leaves and purple twilight, a child bursting in tears and so on. It has the narrator reminiscing on his younger days when many tears were shed. Looking back on that period of intense heartache with the benefit of a more mature perspective, he just sees a passage of his life that was beautiful. LYH songs as a whole seem to say that, after all the endless vagaries of life, what is left in the end is the sum total of the love you had, whether it be a happy, lasting one that is the foundation of your here and now, or a heart breaker that wasn’t to blossom to the full.
Lee Young Hoon collaborated with Lee Moon Sae for eight albums while also working on his own personal projects on the side at times. After an exceptionally successful career as a composer he succumbed to cancer and left us in 2008 when he was only forty eight.
Lee Moon Sae has become a legend of sorts thanks to his hugely popular songs, good looks and fine stage presence, as well as a talent in gabbing and canny ways with the audience in his TV appearances. Quite likely the most successful all around entertainer in the 80s and a good part of the 90s, his songs have been covered and remade by many later generation musicians.