Trinh Cong Son
|Trịnh Công Sơn|
|Birth name||Trịnh Công Sơn|
|Also known as||Trịnh|
|Born||February 28, 1939|
|Died||April 1, 2001(aged 62)|
Trịnh Công Sơn (February 28, 1939 – April 1, 2001) was a Vietnamese composer, musician, songwriter, painter and poet. He, along with Pham Duy and Van Cao, is widely considered one of the three salient figures of modern (non-classical) Vietnamese music. Many of Trinh's songs are love songs. Others are anti-war songs, written during and about the Vietnam War; some of them were censored by the southern Republic of Vietnam and later by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Many performing artists, notably Khánh Ly, have interpreted Trinh Cong Son's music.
Sơn was born in Buôn Ma Thuột, Đắk Lắk Province, Vietnam, but as a child he lived in the village of Minh Huong in Huong Tra in Thừa Thiên-Huế Province. He grew up in Hue, where he attended the Lycee Francais and the Providence school. When he was ten he lived with his father in Huế's Thừa Phủ Prison for a year in 1949. Later he went to Saigon and studied western philosophy at the Lycee Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from which he graduated with the baccalaureate degree. In 1961, he studied psychology and pedagogy in a school for teachers in Quy Nhon. After graduation, he taught at an elementary school in Bao Loc, Lam Dong.
Trinh Cong Son wrote over 500 songs, and, during the 1960s and 1970s, Trần Văn Dĩnh dubbed him the Bob Dylan of Vietnam in Peace News of 8 November 1968 for his antiwar songs. Trần Văn Dĩnh's comparison has been attributed to Joan Baez, but there is no record she even mentioned him. However many young Vietnamese considered Sơn the Bob Dylan or the Joan Baez of Vietnam. He became one of South Vietnam's notable singer-songwriters, after his first hit, Ướt mi (Tearing Lashes) in 1958. He was frequently under pressure from the government, which was displeased with the pacifist's lyrics of such songs as Ngủ đi con (Lullaby, about a mother grieving for her soldier son).
Before April 30, 1975, he went on the radio in Saigon to sing the song "Joining Hands" ("Nối vòng tay lớn") about the dream of national reconciliation between the North and the South, which he had written in 1968. On the afternoon of April 30, following Duong Van Minh's proclamation of surrender, Trinh went on the radio to say that the national dream had been realized and that liberation had been achieved.
After the reunification in 1975, Trinh Cong Son was sentenced by the new communist government, to "retraining" in a labour camp after his family had fled to Canada. However, he was eventually honoured by the government and many officials sent their respects with floral tributes. His often melancholic songs about love and postwar reconciliation earned new acceptance and popularity in later years. Many of his songs have been re-licensed to Vietnamese music companies such as Thuy Nga and Lang Van and sung by other artists. There are two singers' names often associated with Trinh Cong Son. One is Khanh Ly. The other one is Hong Nhung.
Khanh Ly helped popularize Trinh Cong Son music in the early years. They often performed together in South Vietnam University Campuses. Later on in his life, Hồng Nhung (born 1970), many years his junior, replaced Khanh Ly's place until his death.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at his funeral in Ho Chi Minh city, for a spontaneous ad hoc funeral concert, making such a spectacle the largest in Vietnamese history, next to the funeral procession of Ho Chi Minh.
List of songs 
- Bài ca dành cho những xác người (A song for the human corpses), written in the aftermath of the Hue Massacre
- Ca dao mẹ (A mother's lament)
- Cát bụi (Sand and dust)
- Cho đời chút ơn (Grace onto life)
- Cho một người nằm xuống (To one who lays down)
- Cỏ xót xa đưa (Sway sorrow weeds)
- Cuối cùng cho một tình yêu (The end of a romance)
- Diễm xưa (Diễm of the Past)
- Đại bác ru đêm (A Lullaby of Cannons for the Night)
- Đóa hoa vô thường (Evanescent bloom)
- Em hãy ngủ đi (Love, you should sleep)
- Em là hoa hồng nhỏ (You are a little rose)
- Gia tài của mẹ (A mother's legacy)
- Hạ trắng (White summer)
- Hát trên những xác người (Song about the corpses of people), not to be confused with "Bài ca dành cho những xác người"
- Hoa vàng mấy độ (Bright yellow flower)
- Hoa xuân ca
- Lặng lẽ nơi này (So silent here)
- Mỗi ngày tôi chọn một niềm vui (Each day I choose joy)
- Một cõi đi về (A place for leaving and returning)
- Mưa hồng (Pink rain)
- Nắng thuỷ tinh (Crystal sun)
- Người con gái Việt Nam (A Vietnamese girl)
- Ngày dài trên quê hương (A long day in the Motherland)
- Người già em bé (An old person, a baby)
- Như cánh vạc bay (Like a flying crane)
- Như một lời chia tay (Like words of good-bye)
- Nối vòng tay lớn (Circle of unity)
- Quỳnh hương (Scent of the ephemeral bloom)
- Rồi như đá ngây ngô (Not gone at all)
- Ru đời đi nhé (Lullaby to life)
- Rừng xưa đã khép (Your old woods are closed)
- Ta thấy gì đêm nay (What have we seen tonight?)
- Thương một người (To love someone)
- Tiến thoái lưỡng nan (All ways closed off)
- Tình ca của người mất trí ("Ballad of an insane person" or "Love song of a deranged woman")
- Tôi đang lắng nghe (I am listening)
- Tôi ơi đừng tuyệt vọng (Dear me, don’t despair)
- Tôi sẽ đi thăm (I shall visit)
- Tuổi đá buồn (Stone's age of despair)
- Ướt mi ("Misty eyes" or "Tearing lashes")
Songs about the War 
In the song "Mother's Legacy" (Gia tài của mẹ), Trinh sings about the Vietnamese experience of the Vietnam War: He laments that the 1,000 years of Vietnam's subjugation to Chinese imperial rule, the 100 years of subjugation to French colonial rule, and the ongoing civil war, together have left a sad legacy of graveyards, parched fields and burning houses. He urges the children of Vietnam to remain true to their Vietnamese identity and to put an end to internecine fighting and the destruction of the country.
In The song "Song about the Corpses of People" ("Hát trên những xác người"), written in the aftermath of the Hue Massacre, Trinh sings about the corpses strewn around the city, in the river, on the roads, on the rooftops, even on the porches of the pagodas. The corpses, each one of which he regards as the body of a sibling, will nourrish the farmland.
Love Songs 
Love is the single biggest recurring theme in Trinh's work. His love songs constitute the majority of the songs. Most of them are sad, and convey depression and solitude as in "Sương đêm", "Ướt mi". Songs are either about loss as in "Diểm xưa", "Biển nhớ", or nostalgia: "Tình xa", "Tình sầu", "Tình nhớ", "Em còn nhớ hay em đã quên", "Hoa vàng mấy độ". Other songs, additionally carry philosophical messages from a man to his lover: "Cỏ xót xa đưa", "Gọi tên bốn mùa", "Mưa hồng". The style is sly, simple, suitable to be rendered in Slow, Blues or Boston. The lyrics are overwhelmingly poetic, candid and yet deeply poignant, sometimes hinting elements of symbolism and surrealism.
- Dale Alan Olsen Popular Music of Vietnam: The Politics of Remembering 2008 "Trịnh Công Sơn" biography p134-135, ideology p129-130 influence on musicians p139-140
- Shepherd Continuum encyclopedia of popular music of the world "Trịnh Công Sơn"
- "Trinh Cong Son’s love songs hit Hue palace". Tuoi Tre. 2011-03-30.
- Schafer, John C., The Trịnh Công Sơn Phenomenon, The Journal of Asian Studies, Volume 66, Issue 3, 2007, ISSN 0067-7159
- Death, Buddhism, and Existentialism in the Songs of Trịnh Công Sơn JC Schafer - 2007 "... His father, active in the resistance, was imprisoned in Buôn Ma Thuột, and Trịnh Công Sơn lived with him in Thừa Phủ Prison for a year in 1949 when he was ten years old."
- 10 khuôn m ̣ăt văn ngh ̣ê hôm nay Tỵ Tạ - 1971 Trän Van Dïnh da nói dieu trèn a bân tin, nhan de : Bob Dylan cûa Viêt Nam (The Bob Dylan of Vietnam) trong Peace News ngày 8-11-1968. Va y Bob Dylan là ai ? Bob Dylan là nhac sï My trê, tbuOc thành phân phân chien. Bob Dylan không ."
- Nghia "In “It Is We Who Must Speak,” Sơn told people to rise and demand the unification of the country—under whom, he did not say—as well as to refuse to kill brothers and to stack up their weapons. Many young Vietnamese considered Sơn the Bob Dylan or the Joan Baez of Vietnam. Sơn, in turn, was influenced by the shrill demands of American anti-war protesters, which had been brought to Vietnam by none other than young American soldiers."
- Nghia M. Vo Saigon: A History 2011- Page 137 "Trịnh Công Sơn in “Who's Left Who Is Vietnamese” advised combatants to open their eyes, for there were only Vietnamese fighters around and by that time one million of them had died during the war. Turn over the human corpses, the lyrics said, and one could only see Vietnamese faces. "
- The original Vietnamese text and various English translations are available on numerous internet websites including the following: , , , .
- BBC News article on Trinh Cong Son's funeral
- A tribute to Trinh Cong Son
- An extensive site on Trinh Cong Son, including most of his songs, writings, and articles about him
- Trinh Cong Son songs on writeopenstory, with links to many Vietnamese songs on him