Sunday, February 03, 2013

Cultures Collide

I was still thinking about Patti Smith, and really, why shouldn't I be? One of my favorite moments from the show was during the encore. The show, while not super-well attended, was fairly full. Most of the audience was, surprisingly, younger Koreans. Perhaps even more interesting was the fact that most of the young Koreans knew the lyrics to every single Patti Smith song, and in some cases better than I did.

Most of the set list was from three albums, Outside and Banga, with one or two of the more popular tracks from Horses. It had been confirmed by the Kiterunner that those were pretty much the only Patti Smith albums you could get in Korea. This was learned after a day she spent running around Seoul trying to find Patti Smith albums in the hope of getting them signed. Sadly she could only find the three, and in the end gave up.

The new album, Banga, was an interesting, more mellow collection of songs exploring spirituality, how we make our decisions, how we make choices, and the power we have to create change if we considered it. There was a lot about our freedom and how we inspire change between her songs. The title track, "Banga," was, as Patti put it, about a dog.


"Banga" was the first song in the encore, and since it came on the heels of "Gloria," we were all pretty excited and keyed up. In the song when she finally moved into the dog barking and howling it took very little for her to get the rest of the audience barking with her.

I barked, the kids next to me barked, the young American teenagers with their older rocker parents barked, and then I realized that I was hearing something really strange in the audience. Behind me, from young Korean rockers who had come out to sing along with Patti Smith were all barking, but they were barking in Korean.

You see, in Korean, a dog says myung myung. When compared with the more visceral animal barking from the handful of foreigners in the crowd in was highly amusing and really strange. It went on for a minute, until suddenly the entire crowd switched over in an instant and starting woofing up a storm in a more resoundingly real-world dog barking. The dog barking worked beautifully as a full-throttled gateway into "Rock n Roll Nigger", so I heartily approved.

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