These are two of the best known Sanulim (산울림) ballads. Sanulim, a rock band of three brothers Kim Chang Wan(1954-), Chang Hoon, and Chang Ik, stormed onto the music scene releasing their wildly popular first album in 1978. They bristled with fresh youthful enthusiasm and seemingly bottomless creativity which enabled them to produce hit songs one after another for the next several years. Writing most of the song themselves, altogether they released over ten albums in their career before they officially quit when Kim Chang Ik died in an accident in 2008.
The Meaning of You
The music of Sanulim (translates to mountain echo) was a progressive soft rock with a mix of folk and ballad. They had such a fresh and creative style that took everyone by surprise. They seemed to bring in a new style in every department: young, almost childlike vocals, carefree and playfully imaginative lyrics, inspiring new guitar riffs as well as other spunky instrumental arrangements. The first album, which contained the mega-hit What, Already? (아니 벌써), reportedly have sold something like 400,000 copies, which would be like five million in today’s market, an uncharted territory in the smallish Korean music market. They followed on with many more equally feisty albums which made them one of the greatest if not the greatest rock band in Korean history.
The Meaning of You (너의 의미) is quintessential Sanulim, a song they are forever identified with. Its rollicking melody and teenager-like vocals would tug at a young heart like nothing else at the time. Though some part of it like the guitar work may sound a bit dated after all these years, it was as sensational as can be at the time of its release. The three young brothers’ talents and exuberance were simply stunning to behold.
Green Days (청춘) shows their soft and lyrical side, a plaintive ballad lamenting the fleeting years of one’s youth, the unstoppable march of time that eventually reduces all of us to a mere shadow of our former selves, and to ashes in the end. It was a song in the line of tuneful ballads, another genre they were good at.
Sanulim created more than ten albums in the decades to come, experimenting with new styles of music and producing many chart hits along the way. The eldest Kim Chang Wan also dabbled in promotion work for new fledgling bands, most notably Dongmulwon (동물원, Zoo)] in the late 80s, as well as writing theme songs and even acting on TV dramas. He eventually became a popular all around entertainer and media personality, sometimes appearing in a fairly weighty role in recent dramas. Looking back, Sanulim was one of the high points of super-creative new acts who deserved every bit of their success, as it was all artistic flair and boundless enthusiasm and not any luck or accident that made it happen.