Winter Rain (겨울비) and A Song To Sing Again (다시 부르는 노래) are songs from the first album of Jo Dong Jin (조동진, 1947-) in 1979. Jo was an important new player on the music scene to carry on the Korean folk music trend that flared up in the 70s with his own style of quiet, introspective songs. He produced many beautiful songs in the 80s with his brand of folk songs about love, life, and nature, guided younger musicians along the way, and has been a respected figure on and off the stage to this day.
다시 부르는 노래
A Song To Sing Again
Although Jo had previously played as a guitarist in a minor rock band, this album was the true start of his musical career, producing several hit songs that saw good radio play. He was another major singer songwriter as well to continue this new musical trend that started in the early 70s with such artists as Kim Min Gi (김민기), Han Dae Soo (한대수), Lee Jang Hee (이장희), and Shin Joong Hyun (신중현). Remaining a purist who never seemed to seek a commercial appeal or even sing anything but his own composition, he released several beautifully poetic folk albums over the next two decades, inspiring many younger folk artists along the way.
Winter Rain conjures up a picture in my mind. The dearest person of your life has left you, for a distant place beyond your reach; you panic like it is the end of the world, hurriedly run down the night road through the many forlorn lights, with the sound of a distant bell ringing; or light up your room in bright white as if it might change anything, walk down the road fixating your mind on the heavens, while cold raindrops hit your forehead like one more reminder of the despair. It is a life defining event as might happen to many of us at some critical juncture, where you might feel like you have hit the final wall, the ultimate despair in your journey. The traumatic scene is painted with succinct, tightly structured phrases backed by a hauntingly beautiful, brooding melody. It is sure to strike a chord with anyone who has ever gone through the pain of parting.
A Song To Sing Again is yet another kind of folk song. A meditative observation of nature and life - the convergence, oneness of the two, and the eternal cycles they perpetuate. In the sparse three verses it hints at the most profound kind of secret that lurks out there in the ether. It soothes and caresses your soul.
This is typical of Jo Dong Jin’s work - he recites short verses in highly symmetrical form, sometimes in whispery murmurs or almost drone-like hums, that relates deeply personal feelings set against nature’s many faces like rain, wind, the ocean, a river, and so on.
Jo Dong Jin’s songs, especially the less catchy ones that came later, probably demand more from the listener. You need a certain state of mind and a level of concentration to fully enjoy them. Once you get in the right mind for the song, you will reap the reward of deep aural, visual, and mental resonance.
He is one of a kind poet and musician, steady and unwavering in style, going his own way and seldom sidtracked in his quest for art.