Shanghai

This is a song I wrote while living in Shanghai. It was a time in my life where, daily, I struggled to figure out how to navigate and comprehend a city, people, and culture entirely different than anything I had experienced in my life up to that point. The song touches on some of the biggest frustrations I had while living in the city: its pollution, the feeling of always being foreign and recognized as such, the relentlessness of living in a megacity, and the Chinese people’s indifference to all of these things. I learned many important lessons while living there, not only about China, but about people and society as a whole and, despite all of the infuriating moments, I wouldn’t trade my 5 1/2 years spent there for anything. You can find a link to a video of me singing the song here to help give you a sense of its rhythm.

Good morning Shanghai.
I almost passed you by.
I almost missed your grandeur and might,
stretching out of sight,
in all of my forgotten days,
the things I said, my words, my ways and…
Out of a smoke-colored sky
came a ray shining through to my eye.
I blinked, it was gone,
though the smoke it rolled on
down alleyways, up straightened lines,
through hallowed halls
and hollowed minds and…
All the citizens say:
“Hey it’s a lovely day!
You know that morning mist
really sends me on my way.
For to accept a secret kept from me
is a part of my identity.”

Good day Shanghai.
Soft stare in my eye
from a face I thought that I knew,
but as the closer it grew
I found it to be just as foreign as
the other faces blurrin’ past me…
Each one racing to the great melting pot
to be mixed in with culture, ideas, and the lot,
then poured through a crack cut so fine
that most don’t slip through in time
and are left as puddles lying on the ground
to be stepped on or walked around and…
All the citizens say:
“Hey it’s the only way!
You know to get ahead
I must not stray
from a life made up of strife.
I don’t even get why Jack
would want to play.”

Good evening Shanghai.
Light still shines from the high
places that your people have built
upon sand, upon stilts
while shadows creep into the depths below
and drown the frowns and talks of woe and…
Up from a jagged horizon
comes an orb spreading rays like the sun,
but with a transition so slight,
most couldn’t tell the day from night.
Trapped in time a generation,
endless shine yet still stagnation and…
All the citizens say:
“Hey, I’ll get to it one day!
You know I’ll get ahead.
You know I will not stray,
but if the stroke of fate is late
then I guess I’ll just have to hesitate.”

Good morning!
Good day!
Good night!

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