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… On this day, I see clearly, everything has come to life.

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that is associated with 聚言莊﹕The House Where Words Gather.

“Old Cake” Cantopop: Sam Hui Kwoon-Kit’s 《學生哥》(Brother Student)

With the arrival of September and people shuffling out of “summer mode” and back into “the routine”, I’m delaying the TVB post one more time in favour of a post on something timely but a little offbeat for a HK entertainment blog: students going back to school after the summer holiday.

But first (TMJulie Chen), a couple of reader interaction tidbits to take care of:

- To Jo who asked me about the TVB series I’m going to post about, it’s THE GREEN GRASS OF HOME (緣來自有機).  I’d like to say that IChristine Ng Wing-Mei watched it because I was curious to see how TVB handled the environmental themes but honestly it’s because Christine Ng Wing-Mei, at the relatively advanced age (for a TVB starlet) of 39, is “still gettin’ it done”.

Actually, looking ahead, I may be delaying the TVB post one more time because I plan on seeing how Charlie Yeung Choi-Lei fares in the BANGKOK DANGEROUS remake sometime this weekend.  Of course, this means I’ll have to somehow tear myself away from the TV and opening weekend NFL action.

- While writing this post, I started to wonder how “summer holidays” work in the Southern Hemisphere.  Do people in places like Australia and New Zealand synchronize their holidays with North America and Europe or do school kids down under get December or January or February off?  Yeah, I realize that I could easily get the answer from Google but I’m a lazy, lazy man.

On to the business of the day …

Even though I haven’t attended school since the days Confucius taught classes on the Five Classics under the large scholar tree in his courtyard, I still get a bittersweet feeling when the calendar rolls around to September.  I think it’s because the whole “back to school” rigmarole that takes place in the culture and the slight chill that creeps into the air in the mornings and the evenings signals that the lazy, hazy, carefree days of summer are over and that it’s time to get serious again.

The “back to school” milieu also brings to mind the Sam Hui Kwoon-Kit song 《學生哥》 (lit. Student Brother) where Ah Sam exhorts kids, through a catchy tune, to study hard in school so that they can one day become independent.  It was released in 1978 on Hui’s album 賣身契 (THE CONTRACT).  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sam Hui, he — along with James Wong Jim (黃霑), Joseph Koo Ka-Fai (顧嘉煇) and Lo Man (羅文, Roman Tam) — helped transform Cantonese music from the literal, classical Cantonese Opera form that dominated Sam Hui Kwoon-Kitthe HK music scene until the early-1970s to the colloquial, informal Cantopop of today.  While Wong, Koo and Tam did it primarily through television theme music, Hui helped popularize Cantopop through songs that spoke directly to Hong Kong people by addressing the issues of the day in the vernacular of the day.

Showing a wide artistic range, not only could Hui be topical [as shown in the song 《話知你 97》 (trans. Could Not Care Less About 1997)], he could also be philosophical [《世事如棋》 (trans. Life Is Like A Game Of Chess)], satirical [《打雀英雄傳》 (trans. Mahjong Playing Heroes — a spoof of the theme song to a 1970s TV adaptation of Jin Yong’s LEGEND OF THE CONDOR HEROES)] and comical [with the aforementioned 《賣身契》 (trans. Contract Of Indentured Servitude), a song about how people enter into life only after signing a contract of servitude with God … or the Great Whatever of your particular religion].  Western audiences are most likely to know of Hui through the song 《最佳拍檔》 (trans. Ideal Partner) — the theme song for the ACES GO PLACES movies.  If you would like to learn more about Sam Hui, a substantial biography of Hui can be found at Sam Hui Online.

《學生哥》 shows Hui’s philosophical and topical sides.  In it, he uses plain, everyday Cantonese to tell school kids to study hard so that they can make something of themselves in life.  I’ve done a rough translation of the lyrics (see below) and I’ve uploaded a clip of the song that you can check out here.  If you want to check out the song in its entirety, a four CD set of Sam Hui’s greatest hits can be had at YesAsia for a fairly decent price of US$21.49.

 The lyrics:

Lyrics for Sam Hui’s 《學生哥》




老餅 or “old cake” is Cantonese slang used to describe people of a certain age (namely old farts like me).  It’s slightly more polite and affectionate than 老柴 (lo chai or “old firewood”).

Image credits: TVB (Christine Ng), Polygram Records (Sam Hui)

5 Responses to ““Old Cake” Cantopop: Sam Hui Kwoon-Kit’s 《學生哥》(Brother Student)”

  1. Gabriel Says:

    “Do people in places like Australia and New Zealand synchronize their holidays with North America and Europe”???? No, Sanney, we don’t. What a strange question. We have our holidays when we want to, which means we couldn’t care less when the northern hemisphere does! Our best (school) holiday starts the week before Christmas, & ends at the end of January. That’s summer! There’s no Christmas & New Year’s Eve anywhere else in the world that compare to those in Sydney in summer.

  2. Jo Says:

    Yeah, but we’ll never get white Christmas’ in Sydney. Just stinking hot ones. Which I suppose has it’s own unique flair.

    I’ve always thought it was weird that school starts in September in the Northern Hemisphere. To me, it is logical that the year begins in Jan and ends in Dec, and I don’t see why that doesn’t apply to school ‘years’ as well. That way, we have the ‘2008 school year’, as opposed to ‘2008/2009 school year’. But I suppose it’s all about what you’re used to. I want to ask, is the holiday structure the same? We have:
    10 weeks of school
    2 week break
    10 weeks school
    2 week break
    10 weeks school
    2 week break
    10 weeks school (end of the year)
    6 weeks break.

    Is it essentially the same system in the Northern Hemisphere, but just at a different time of year?

    And I loved ‘The Green Grass of Home’ - although I don’t think all that many people share that opinion. I though Christine Ng was smokin’ hot, but her acting seemed a little lacking, especially next to Sunny Chan who I rate quite highly. Looking forward to reading what you thought of it =)

  3. Jo Says:

    Oh, and if you’re looking for another TVB series to watch anytime soon, I highly recommend ‘Catch Me Now’. The best to come out of TVB in a long time IMO.

  4. glenn Says:

    As I posted about simply as an excuse to post photos of her, Charlie Yeung looks even better now than she did in The Lovers.

    It was a bit surreal to be standing in an American multiplex, buying nachos before seeing Indiana Jones, and look up to the monitor and see Charlie in the trailer for the BD remake.

    While I think this is going to be another unnecessary remake, I’m very happy the producers went with someone who is older than 21 for the female lead.

  5. David Harris Says:

    Old Cake? I like that a lot! :) Copyright © 2002-2021 Ross Chen