by Valerie Soe. Posted on September 1, 2021.

As we continue to endure the deprivation of the extended COVID-19 pandemic, this summer I’ve been in a melancholy mood.  Although there was a brief moment of hope back in late spring when vaccines seemed to be working and before the delta variant threw everything back into chaos again, for the most part it’s been a long, tough slog. Witnessing the criminal anti-vaccine misinformation campaigns of Fox News and other conservative media outlets has only added to my fury.

I also just lost a friend and colleague to breast cancer, which she’d been living with for several years. As a breast cancer survivor myself this hits hard—so far I have no sign of disease any more but I’ll always be at risk for recurrence. My friend had thought her cancer was under control as well until her doctors discovered that it instead had metastasized. So, her passing adds another layer of grief and sadness to a year already burdened with so much loss of life.

So, despite the beautiful summer weather here in San Francisco my mood has been somber and my playlist reflects that. One of the tracks on repeat is CNBLUE’s Then, Now, and Forever. CNBLUE has been South Korea’s premiere rock band since their debut more than 11 years ago in 2010. Then, Now, and Forever dropped last November as part of CNBLUE’s EP Re: Code, which was their first release after coming back from their mandatory military duty.

The tune is a gorgeous and moody mid-tempo rock ballad that features all the good things about CNBLUE’s music.  The track opens with a syncopated deep-register guitar riff, overlaid with a sweet, wistful wordless vocalization. Kang Minhyuk’s strong, steady drumming and Lee Jungshin’s fluid bassline drive the beat and Jung Yonghwa’s sensitive, emotional singing carries the song’s affective weight. Yonghwa’s evocative lyrics further contribute to the mood:

Today’s weather is clear

오늘 날씨 맑음

It’s cloudy in the afternoon

오후에는 먹구름

But it will keep raining

In my heart

내 마음은

계속 비가 내릴 예정

Sorry, friends

친구들아 미안해

 I have to skip again today

오늘도 난 빠질게

I know how you feel

너희 맘은 아는데

But please give me some time

시간 조금만 줄래

My heart is still hurting

계속 맘이 쓰릴 예정

Then, Now, and Forever also includes the sounds of a soaring, church-like Hammond organ, a buzzing electric guitar, and a lovely and delicate piano coda that adds richness and texture to the mix. Adding to the song’s complexity is the alternating 6/8 and 4/4 time signatures between the verse and the chorus. The result is a beautiful interplay between contrasting musical elements that gives the track a deep poignancy. Yet at the same time the lyrics conclude with a small ray of hope:

I hope we become happier

이젠 우리 행복했으면 좋겠다

I really hope so

그러면 참 좋겠다

There will be better days

보통 날이 날 찾아오겠지

We’re here then, now and forever

우린 과거 현재 미래에 있어

The song’s journey from sorrow to hope has been a beacon for me during these hard times.  Despite ongoing sadness, it holds out the chance for a brighter future and has carried me through these long months and days.

For my more in-depth discussion of CNBLUE’s Re:Code go here. trans: FNC Entertainment

 

Author’s bio:  Valerie Soe is a filmmaker, writer, and professor at San Francisco State University.  She has published widely and her work has exhibited at venues worldwide. She is the author of the award-winning blog beyondasiaphilia.com, where she writes about Asian/American film, art, music, culture, and activism. Her latest feature film, Love Boat: Taiwan, premiered in 2019 and has played to sold-out festival audiences in North America and Taiwan.

 

 

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