When Will You Return?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"When Will You Return?"
Song by Zhou Xuan
Released1937 (1937)
Composer(s)Liu Xue'an (劉雪庵)
Lyricist(s)Huang Jiamo (黃嘉謨)
The song was originally sung by Zhou Xuan

"When Will You Return?" (Chinese: 何日君再來; pinyin: Hé Rì Jūn Zài Lái) is a Chinese song first sung by Zhou Xuan in 1937, but also well known as a song by Teresa Teng. It has also been variously translated as "When Will the Gentleman Come Back Again?" or "When Will You Come Back Again?" The lyrics were written by Huang Jiamo (黃嘉謨) to a tune composed by Liu Xue'an (劉雪庵).



According to Liu Xue'an's son, the tune was written by Liu Xue'an during an undergraduate party at the Shanghai Music Conservatory where an impromptu song-composing competition was suggested. Liu wrote the melody quickly, played it as a tango song and won the approval of other students. The director Fang Peilin liked the tune and asked Huang Jiamo to write the lyrics to be used for his new film.[1]


The song was highly popular as well as controversial. The controversy arose due to the various interpretations and political readings of its supposed "hidden" meaning. The lyrics were interpreted as either anti-Japanese, treasonous, or pornographic. After 1949 the song was banned by the People's Republic of China because it was seen as bourgeois and decadent.[1][2] The writer Liu was criticized and suffered during the Anti-Rightist Movement in 1957 and during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. He offered a public self-criticism in 1980 before he was rehabilitated, but criticism of the song continued in mainland China for some time as an example of "Yellow Music", a product of decadent and immoral society.[1]

This song was also banned in Taiwan in the times of martial law because the word jūn () "gentleman" (here used to address the person, therefore translated as "you") sounds the same as the word jūn (, meaning "army"), therefore censors feared that people may associate the song with People's Liberation Army.[3]

Zhou Xuan's original version[edit]

The song was originally sung by Zhou Xuan and first appeared as an accompaniment to the film Three Stars by the Moon (三星伴月), a 1937 film of Zhou Xuan produced by the Yihua film company. The film was one of the last silent movies made in China, and the only silent movie Zhou Xuan starred in. The songs in the film were probably played to the audience on a gramophone synchronized with the action.[1]

Teresa Teng's version[edit]

The song became heavily associated with Teresa Teng through her version, released in 1979.[4] In Mainland China, Teng became prominent via the song. Geremie R. Barmé, author of In the Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture, described the song as a "nostalgic ode". Barmé said that some individuals on the Mainland condemned the song, describing it as "traitorous" and "obscene".[5]

Memorials for Teng have included performances of "When Will You Return?"[6]

Other versions[edit]

The song has been recorded by Li Xianglan (in Chinese/Japanese), Li Lili, Claire Kuo, Fei Yu-ching, Lisa Ono, and many others.

It was also performed in Crazy Rich Asians by Jasmine Chen, titled “Waiting for Your Return”.


  1. ^ a b c d Steen, Andreas (2000). "Tradition, Politics and Meaning in 20th Century China's Popular Music: Zhou Xuan — When Will the Gentleman Come Back Again" (PDF). CHIME Journal (14–15): 124–53.
  2. ^ Jones. Andrew F. (2001). Yellow Music - CL: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age. Duke University Press. p. 151. ISBN 0-8223-2694-9.
  3. ^ "EastSouthWestNorth: Tales From The Martial Law Era". Zonaeuropa.com. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  4. ^ Tan, Jason. "Who is Teresa Teng?" at the Wayback Machine (archived November 17, 2007) Radio Singapore International 10 April 2007. Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Web. 23 May 2012. Archived from the original.
  5. ^ Barmé, Geremie R. In the Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture. Columbia University Press. 1999. 125.
  6. ^ "Shanghai embraces fresh Chage & Aska". china.org.cn. Retrieved 2012-03-14.

External links[edit]