Three-Lane Road in Taipei during Japanese Occupation
taiwan formosa cities taipei streets taipics140.jpg

敢是註定無緣份,所愛的伊,因和乎阮放昧離 ,夢中來相見,斷腸詩唱昧止

Moonlight shines on the shaded three-lane road, while the gentle breeze blows through. My sweetheart hasn’t come. I wonder why.
It’s a moon night of unhappiness.
Feeling lonely late at night, hearing the sad calling of the cicadas, seeing the shadows of the trees, all of which makes me more sorrowful. My heart aches and tears come to my eyes.
It’s a moon night of weariness.
Maybe we are destined to be apart, you, my love. Why have you forsaken me? I will see you in my dreams, singing sad poems.
It’s a moon night of melancholy.


月夜愁 Moon Night Sorrow

This is a song about unrequited love. During the Japanese occupation, several boulevards were built as part of an effort to improve infrastructure in Taiwan. They were the widest road up to date, with pedestrian islands in the middle and trees along the sides. The grandeur and beauty of the new “three-lane road” makes it a popular sight for romantic outings; lovers young and old are often seen taking a nightly stroll on the islands. To evoke the romantic feeling of the song, I incorporated the rhythm of the Habanera, the music of love and seduction, in this arrangement. 

The history of this song took a sinister turn during WWII, when the Japanese government replaced the lyrics with patriotic content to encourage the Taiwanese people to fight for Japan.

Listen to the original recording in 1933:

What is "Habanera"? Here's the most famous example: