Yoo Jae ha (유재하, 1962-1987) was an extremely talented musician of the 80s who fell short of realizing his great potential owing to a tragic traffic accident that took his life prematurely. With both an innate passion and academic training in music, he displayed a remarkable songwriting ability as well as a mastery of multiple instruments. Playing in Cho Yong Pil (조용필)’s band while writing songs for other artists at a young age, he was on course to becoming a full-blown, successful artist. His first album, which came out in 1987, was notable in many ways. It had his own unique ballad style, was written, performed, and produced almost single handedly with all the instruments played and overlaid by him. It was a feat hardly ever seen before or since Yoo.
Because I Love You
The Obscured Road
The style Yoo adopted for his first album was a unique one. The songs are unusually quiet, introspective ones typically about love and related personal sentiments. The gently flowing melody is sung in such a measured and held-back deliveries that some listeners may be turned off by its drone-like quality. Some critics also initially panned it for being drifty and off key in some parts. Others thought the songs lacked strong hooks, the melodic and rhythmic quality that grabs listeners’ attention, and thus were too bland and undistinguished. In the end his songs proved the detractors wrong by steadily gaining popularity over the years to become some of the most popular pop ballads.
Because I Love You (사랑하기 때문에) is a quintessential love ballad, pledging one’s love to the one of his affection. It is delivered in the typically quiet and controlled way, creating a peculiarly moody realm of the psyche far detached from the real world. The song takes the listener into a rarefied sphere of musings not often encounter in pop music.
The Obscured Way (가리워진 길) is another deeply introspective song. The narrator is looking at his place on the obscured road, which at times gets him lost without a clear vision forward. While searching for answers, he entreats with his loved one for inspiration and strength. For him or anyone else, life’s journey is seldom like a picnic to be taken lightly, and you would need all the help you can get.