Your Taiwan Soundtrack?

If you were to load up your iPod with a playlist consisting of 10 songs (regardless of country of origin) that best describes Taiwan for you, what would be on it?

Mine (in no particular order):

  1. Circo Montoya- “Formosa”. - Great little Brazilian samba tune, reminds me of Orchid Island despite being in Portuguese. (Tip of the hat to Maowang for finding this)

  2. MC Hotdog- “Korean Pop Invasion (Han Liu Lai Xi)” - Behold the fearsome poetry of Gan gan gan gan gan gan gan!

  3. Jinmen Wang- "Dusk in Danshui (Danshui Mu Se) " - Great tune to listen to while wandering thru Tamshui.

  4. Chen Chien-nien- “Taidong’s Heart is an Orchid (Taidong Xin Lanhua Qing)” - The ultimate drinking-beer-in-shorts-and-blue-flip-flops song.

  5. A-Ya - “The Shaved Ice March (Gua Bing You Xing Qu)” - I had to include one song that captures Taiwan’s fingrnail-on-a-blackboard culture of cute. Forgive me.

  6. Dog G (Doa-gi/ Da Zhi) - "Taiwan Song/ Taiwan Shuang (Rock version) " - Listen to this while walking down the streets of Taipei and you’re suddenly the baddest-ass mofo in town. Good message, too.

  7. Zhang, 43 - “All Guys Get Horny (Za Po Lang Long E Chiou)” - Yep!

  8. New Formosa Band - “Dusk Thoughts of Home (Huang Hun E Gou Hiong)” - An emotional 7 minute cover of the folk song that became an anthem to blacklisted Taiwanese. Good homesickness music, too.

  9. Pizzicato 5 - “The Girl From Ipanema” - I always think of Kenting when I hear this.

  10. Jimmy Buffet - “Margaritaville” - Perfectly captures the longterm expat mentality. Viva La Jimmy!

Amsterdam by Jacques Brel has been a favorite of mine; it describes many tragic elements of the human condition. It’s been covered in English by many people like Bowie. Here’s his version:

In the port of Amsterdam
There’s a sailor who sings
Of the dreams that he brings
From the wide open sea
In the port of Amsterdam
There’s a sailor who sleeps
While the river bank weeps
To the old willow tree

In the port of Amsterdam
There’s a sailor who dies
Full of beer, full of cries
In a drunken town fight
In the port of Amsterdam
There’s a sailor who’s born
On a hot muggy morn
By the dawn’s early light

In the port of Amsterdam
Where the sailors all meet
There’s a sailor who eats
Only fish heads and tails
And he’ll show you his teeth
That have rotted too soon
That can haul up the sails
That can swallow the moon

And he yells to the cook
With his arms open wide
“Hey, bring me more fish
Throw it down by my side”
And he wants so to belch
But he’s too full to try
So he stands up and laughs
And he zips up his fly

In the port of Amsterdam
You can see sailors dance
Paunches bursting their pants
Grinding women to porch
They’ve forgotten the tune
That their whiskey voice croaked
Splitting the night
With the roar of their jokes
And they turn and they dance
And they laugh and they lust
Till the rancid sound of the accordion bursts
And then out of the night
With their pride in their pants
And the sluts that they tow
Underneath the street lamps

In the port of Amsterdam
There’s a sailor who drinks
And he drinks and he drinks
And he drinks once again
He’ll drink to the health
Of the whores of Amsterdam
Who’ve given their bodies
To a thousand other men
Yeah, they’ve bargained their virtue
Their goodness all gone
For a few dirty coins
Well he just can’t go on
Throws his nose to the sky
And he aims it up above
And he pisses like I cry
On the unfaithful love

In the port of Amsterdam
In the port of Amsterdam