More Shin Hae Chul (신해철) and Next Songs - As Life Comes to An End Before Us (우리 앞의 생이 끝나갈 때), Fly, Little Chick (날아라 병아리)

little chick

Shin Hae Chul (신해철, 1968-2014) was one of the rare breed of singers who stuck to songs of contemplation rather than the usual love and relationship fare. Here are two more of such songs of soul searching. As Life Draws to An End Before Us (우리 앞의 생이 끝나갈 때) is a musing on his younger days and the dreams he cherished at the time, as well as alament on how the changing times and forces of the world throw him astray and make him lose his own self. It clearly shows what was the driving concern in his life and work. Fly, Little Chick (날아라 병아리) is an interesting little number about a boy’s friendship with a little chick. It looks back on a little creature which, despite having little to show for itself, gave him a profound realization on life and friendship.

우리 앞의 생이 끝나갈 때

흐린 창문 사이로 하얗게
별이 뜨던 그 교실
나는 기억해요 내 소년 시절의
파랗던 꿈을

세상이 변해 갈 때
같이 닮아 가는 내 모습에
때론 실망하며 때로는
변명도 해 보았지만

흐르는 시간 속에서
질문은 지워지지 않네
우린 그 무엇을 찾아
이 세상에 왔을까
그 대답을 찾기 위해
우리는 홀로 걸어가네

세월이 흘러가고
우리 앞의 생이 끝나갈 때
누군가 그대에게
작은 목소리로 물어보면
대답할 수 있나 지나간
세월에 후횐 없노라고

As Life Draws to An End Before Us

The cloudy window of a classroom
Through which bright stars rose
And the blue dreams of my youth
I still remember them to this day

I joined the tide losing myself
Swept by the ever changing world
I lost heart seeing me this way
Even rationalized it sometimes

Amid the steady flux of time
The question never goes away
Just what are we here for
In this place we find ourselves in
For an answer to this question
We each walk our lonely road

As time passes by relentlessly
As life draws to an end before us
If someone should come along
And whisper this question to you
Can you answer without wavering
That you have no regrets so far
My friend

날아라 병아리

육교 위의 네모난 상자 속에서
처음 나와 만난 노란 병아리 얄리는
처음처럼 다시 조그만 상자속으로 들어가
우리집 앞뜰에 묻혔다.
나는 어린 내 눈에 처음 죽음을 보았던
1974년의 봄을 아직 기억한다.

내가 아주 작을 때
나보다 더 작던 내 친구
내 두 손 위에서 노래를 부르면
작은 방을 가득 채웠지
품에 안으면 따뜻한 그 느낌
작은 심장이 두근두근 느껴졌었어

우리 함께 한 날은
그리 길게 가지 못했지
어느날 얄리는 많이 아파
힘없이 누워만 있었지
슬픈 눈으로 날개짓 하더니
새벽 무렵엔 차디차게 식어 있었네

굿~바이 얄리 이젠 아픔없는 곳에서
하늘을 날고 있을까
굿~바이 얄리 너의 조그만 무덤가엔
올해도 꽃은 피는지

눈물이 마를 무렵
희미하게 알 수 있었지
나 역시 세상에 머무르는 건
영원할 수 없다는 것을
설명할 말을 알 순 없었지만
어린 나에게 죽음을 가르쳐 주었네

굿~바이 얄리 이젠 아픔없는 곳에서
하늘을 날 고 있을까
굿~바이 얄리 너의 조그만 무덤가엔
올해도 꽃은 피는지

굿~바이 얄리 이젠 아픔없는 곳에서
하늘을 날 고 있을까
굿~바이 얄리 언젠가 다음 세상에도
내 친구로 태어나 줘

Fly, Little Chick

I first met Yali on an overpass walkway
A yellow little chick sold in a cardboard box
Who sadly ended up in another little box
To be buried in our front yard
I remember the day in the spring of 1974
When my young eye first witnessed a death

When I was a little boy
Yali was a friend even smaller than me
When she sang on the palm of my hands
It filled up my little room
I felt her warmth holding her in my arms
Her little heart beating as if it was mine

But the days we shared together
Didn't last all that long
As she fell gravely ill one day
And just lied around lifeless
With a sad eye she tried to flap her wings
Then ended up a cold body by the dawn

Goodbye, Yali, would you be flying now
Up into the sky where there is no pain
Goodbye, Yali, around your little grave
Flowers bloom again this year

As my tears were drying
I came to realize it vaguely
That my own sojourn in this world
Would not last forever either
She couldn't have known the word to explain it
But Yali taught my young mind about death

Goodbye, Yali, would you be flying now
Up into the sky where there is no pain
Goodbye, Yali, around your little grave
Flowers bloom again this year

Goodbye, Yali, would you be flying now
Up into the sky where there is no pain
Goodbye, Yali, one day in the next life
Come to this word as my friend again

Shin Hae Chul

As usual with Shin’s songs, As Life Draws to An End Before Us calls our attention to the meaning of our existence. It is both a deeply personal contemplation and an urgent call for all of us to come to a realization and action of the utmost importance - that we stop the meaningless drifting and find the right course for true meaning. Yes, it is a question that never goes away. It is what all of us struggle with throughout our brief stay in this world, one that each and every one of our predecessors and peers grappled with, as well as one that will challenge all those to come after us. It is a question that so many have devoted their lives to find an answer, a question that will be repeated forever as long as this world and the human race carry on.

Fly, Little Chick is an interesting song with its peculiar subject matter, a chick, of all things. True story or not, Shin talks about his encounter with this little yellow creature in a cardboard box he bought from a street merchant and named Yali. We all know how cute and innocent looking, how small and utterly vulnerable these critters are. To young boys and girls they may represent all that is mysterious and awe inspiring about life, as they possess the unfathomable quality of purity and innocence separating them from us humans. Anyone who has loved a dog knows how deeply moving their unconditional devotion is, something seldom found among the human beings. Shin Hae Chul as a delicate young boy appears to have experienced this deepest kind of mystery of life, felt the purest kind of love and companionship with the little chick, and in the end realized his own finiteness in the most direct and psychologically traumatic way possible. The boy must have felt the strongest kind of a wish in his mind, to be able to transcendent this mortality, for the sake of his companion Yali as well as himself, and expressed it in the words “Fly, Little Chick”, dreaming she would be flying somewhere high up there.

It’s been more than a year now, since Shin Hae Chul met with his untimely death. Just as he was wishing it for Yali, we’d like to make the same wish that he is flying somewhere high up in the heavenly world.


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