Posts Tagged ‘Sir Francis Bacon’

Renmin Park, volume 1 – Sir Francis Bacon At The Net

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

(this blog was posted earlier on the NPR All Songs Considered website.)

The roots of this song are quite varied and complicated. It started as a musical structure based around the field recording that you hear, which is of two men playing badminton in Renmin Park. Every Tuesday and Thursday I would go to the park at 7am to play badminton with a group of people, a couple of them were People’s Liberation Army old guards. I was befriended by one of them and through him I was introduced to a few other men of his generation and over the weeks of getting together, and then going to breakfast after our game, they would slowly unveil their stories. All of them had been members of the PLA (airforce, intelligence, foot soldiers); all of them had harrowing stories of their lives during the Cultural Revolution (after they had given their youth to their country, fighting for an ideal put forth by Mao). All of them had been imprisoned; one of them (the man who befriended me) was in a labour camp for 16 years. And yet when I tried to broach the subject of Mao and his legacy, I never heard one discouraging word and more often than not there was praise. Part of this was an old world wariness about speaking out on a subject as politically volatile as Mao, but I also began to realize that Mao’s legacy is rooted in so much contradiction and personal history.

So the lyrics started off as an attempt at touching on that contradiction (So calculating it parses a man / between the hand that held the dream / and the sword being held by the hand. / Their golden frames hang gleaming. / Tangled bones of their crimes bleaching. / Their golden frames hang gleaming. / Bleaching bones of their crimes tangling.) From there the song grew…it touches on the inevitability of the next “Mao” rising up (There he stands a mere mist of a thing / Waiting his turn to challenge the King)…and the proclivity to violence in that country’s history:  man-made to nature’s violence (Merciless nature, both human and mother, walk this land each through the arm of the other) and then it ends with a comment on how the outcome of these cataclysmic violent upheavals (the man-made ones) are completely and totally unpredictable. The first line is based on a Chinese saying about the uncertainty of predicting the future and the second half is the same theme but based on a Sir Francis Bacon quote (As the map is unrolled the dagger comes out / and that which was certain will now end in doubt.)

The title of the song brings in to play the field recording of the badminton game and the underlying theme of the song which is based around the Bacon quote about all things beginning in certainty inevitably end in doubt. By looking at China’s past and talking to those who have lived through the turbulence of the past 80 years, it seemed to me like this quote was a fitting way to predict its future.

Sir Francis Bacon At The Net

Merciless nature

human and mother

walk this land

each through the arm of the other.

Their tithe they count in millions.

In a Land that loves its villains.

So calculating

it parses a man

between the hand that held the dream

and the sword being held by the hand.

Their golden frames hang gleaming.

Tangled bones of their crimes bleaching.

Their golden frames hang gleaming.

Bleaching bones of their crimes tangling.

There he stands

a mere mist of a thing

waiting his turn

to challenge the King.

He counts his time in centuries.

He lives on the smallest of mercies.

He counts his time in centuries.

As the map is unrolled

the dagger comes out

and that which was certain

will now end in doubt.

Thank you Sir Francis Bacon.

Another piece of advice not taken.

Thank you Sir Francis Bacon.

Another piece of advice not taken.

This video has nothing to do with the song, but this was the scene outside of our window every weekday morning at 6:30am. These are the morning exercises that all school kids in China partake in. Some of these sounds can be found throughout the album, especially in the Intro sound collage.

If you’d like to catch up on some past blogs about the Renmin Park album, just click on a link:

Renmin Park – Introduction

Renmin Park – The Place

Renmin Park – The Sounds

Renmin Park – The Music

Renmin Park – The Lyrics

Renmin Park – A Few Bags of Grain

Renmin Park – Little Dark Heart

Renmin Park – My Fall and I Cannot Sit Sadly By Your Side

Renmin Park – A Walk In The Park

Renmin Park – Mr Liu

Renmin Park – Stranger Here

Renmin Park – You’ve Got To Get A Good Heart

Renmin Park – Cicadas

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