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
As Life Draws to An End Before Us
Fly, Little Chick
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.