That Alone Is My World (그것만이 내 세상) and Please (제발) are from the rock band Chamomile (들국화)’s first LP album released in 1985. Chamomile came onto the scene as a fledgling ragged indie band, yet has since steadily gathered loyal fans to become one of the best loved bands of Korean classic rock. As these songs show, they eschew flourishes in their music, going for a direct, no nonsense delivery of stark, heartfelt sentiment through the gruff and high pitched voice of the leader Jeon In Gwon (전인권). Their aloof and seemingly non-commercial style as well as bluntly naked artistic expressions seem to push buttons with the listeners, as attested by their lofty status three decades later.
그것만이 내 세상
That Alone Is My World
After the meteoric popularity of Shin Joong Hyun (신중현) music, the Korean rock scene was relatively quiet in the early 80s. Sanulim (산울림) appeared to be the only significant band making ground breaking music and expanding fan base actively. Many other budding bands were quietly in the making, though, of which Chamomile might have been the most significant one. When they first came up with an album in 1985, they were rather unknown and haggard looking next to Sanulim’s spiffy appearance and artistic flair. Their songs, most of which were written by the band members, seemed to sound blunt and lack finesse at first, but gradually caught on thanks to their musical substance and heartfelt messages lurking below the surface. In a few years they would become a top notch band, and now three decades later, they even won the number one spot honor on the often cited all time greatest albums list.
The most striking element of their music may be summed up as brutal honesty. Shunning fluffy embellishments, Jeon’s vocals tend to deliver their songs in shouts and screams. He often throws the lines in short bursts of concentrated energy at the top of his long, rarely using flamboyant vocal techniques, resounding multi-part harmonies, inflections, elaborate overlaying, or even drawn out notes for effects. Still their songs had good lyrics, fine musical structures, and an earnest feel which made up for what they lacked in styles. Through ups and downs of the band as well as solo and other band activities over the years, Jeon has stuck to this one-of-a-kind style.
That Alone Is My World (그것만이 내 세상), written by bassist Hahn Seong Won (한성원)* is one of their signature songs. It reflects on the life of the narrator himself, how he had led an uncompromising rebel-like life pursuing his own dreams through thick and thin, now ready to declare that alone was his way and that alone was his world. This unwavering attitude is largely in line with the band members’ personae as well which makes the song all the more relevant.
Please (제발) is a desperate plea to one’s love interest to change her stifling, domineering ways. It makes a all out entreaty in no uncertain terms, asking not to be treated like a doll, talking of thirst and suffocation. While it might come off to some as off-putting because of the directness, its brutally honest message seems to ring true to most fans.