“Nothing to My Name”, the Train Crash Version

Cui Jian’s song “Nothing to My Name” is perhaps the best-known Chinese rock song of all time. It might also be considered one of the first, given that it was released in 1986. It quickly grew popular, and was adopted by the students as an anthem of sorts during the Tiananmen protests in 1989. In fact, Cui Jian even performed the song live for the protesters.

In the wake of the train accident in Wenzhou, it seems netizens have turned back to this decades old song to vent. Uploaded to Tudou a few days ago, this video — which is currently being spread around Weibo — is a very well done version of that song, with new lyrics that address the Wenzhou crash. It’s a fairly impressive job; most of the lyrics use the same rhyming sounds as the original song.


As of this posting, the video has over 400,000 views. Update: The original video I linked has now been deleted (presumably by Tudou), however, the video has been re-uploaded this morning; see above. If that doesn’t work, try these links, as it has also spread to other sites: Sina, Sina. Those appear to be being deleted, so your best bet long term is just to watch it on Youtube:

If you want to search for it on Chinese sites, the easiest way is to search for the phrase 一无所有 动车版.


This is a pretty rough translation. There are subtitles in the video, so I haven’t bothered to retype all the Chinese here.

Opening monologue: Railway Ministry, don’t tell me the reason for this accident is rain and lightning. You’re standing in front of the cameras all sanctimonious and graceful, but behind it, how much disgraceful, stinking, bloody, undisguised corruption is there?

Singing begins:
The people are asking over and over,
How can the Railway officials be so ballsy,
Why did they stop the rescue operations,
after just a single day?

The passengers needed your help,
They didn’t need your excuses,
But you’re just evading [the questions],
Speaking without thinking.

Oh, you look like you’re putting on a show,
Do you really feel guilty?

The earth under our feet is trembling,
The tears on our faces are flowing,
What was that that fell [from the train car in the video]
And was captured by the camera ((A reference to the Youku video that showed an object falling from the car.))?

Why was the list of victims not published?
Why were you burying the engine car of the train?
Is it that in your eyes,
The lives of the people are more worthless than pigs or dogs?

Oh, how much is a life worth?
Is a few hundred thousand enough?

Spoken interlude: When they took the body, they found signs of life. This proves that at the beginning some people were still alive. Perhaps at that time, my wife and my family members were still alive. Why didn’t you come to rescue us? The bodies of my wife and my mother in law were still in the car when it was taken off the overpass; they weren’t trying to save our family members, we feel they were just trying to clear the tracks so trains could continue service. Because they said last night that the railway was operating normally again. The bodies weren’t [carefully] extracted from the wreckage, they were dug out with an excavator! In this project, even if they were already dead, you can’t just use a backhoe to handle them!

Singing returns
I’m telling you I’ve put up with it for a long time,
I’m telling you my final demand,
I’m tightening up my fists,
And setting out to find this scumbag,
My heart is trembling,
My blood is pumping,
What will you bring out to console me,
To console my deceased friends and family?

Oh, how much is a life worth?
Is a few hundred thousand enough?

Ending titles: “This video is in remembrance of the N victims who died in the 7/23 train crash. July 27, 2011.

0 thoughts on ““Nothing to My Name”, the Train Crash Version”

  1. On another note – I guess someone really needs to explain why exactly this incident has attracted such attention when accidents like this happen all the time, and are covered up. My guess:

    1) The people involved were the affluent middle/upper class, not the farmers, workers, or miners who are usually the victims of such incidents.

    2) The accident happened, not deep underground, or in a guarded factory complex, but in the middle of the countryside, and involved hundreds of people equipped with camera phones.

    3) The trains were part of a high-profile and prestigious government project.

    Still, it is hard to believe that this incident has been the trigger for seemingly more controversy that the collapse of the schools during the Wenchuan earthquake.


  2. To FOARP:
    as one of the railway officials said early on, they know they can’t “bury” it, so they’re not even going to try. THey can’t bury it for the reasons you cited, unlike other “accidents” in China, perhaps.

    BUt it is interesting that the furor in the media, and especially on the internet on places like Sina-weibo, have been allowed to perpetuate. I wonder if it is a technical issue related to the linking/knitting and re-posting features on weibo, that things go up faster than the censors can take them down. Or if the powers that be decided that this is an event where the public will be allowed to pop off for now.


  3. @FOARP as my Chinese friend next to me says: “Of course! Everyone uses the train sometimes, but we don’t live in Wenchuan and we do not work in any of those factories.”


  4. While Wen looks like a beleagured aging rooster, the various govt departments are still all over the shop in terms of developing a coherent strategy.

    Look at the lastest report on the Shanghaist which notes that the Propaganda bozos are now making a concerted effort to shut down discussion.

    At the same time, according to a BBC (last night great southern time), the Wenzhou authorities were forced to backtrack and apologise after a statement saying they would arrest any lawyers employed by the involved families.

    FOARPs points 1, 2 and 3 are essentially correct.

    If it was a bunch of dead farmers or migrant workers on a slow train, urban China would simply not have given a shit. We are talking about parallel universes.


  5. Considering that the Western Media didn’t even go out on a limb to criticize China about this, maybe it has gotten to a point where it doesn’t get that much coverage anymore as Chinageeks would’ve hoped.


  6. Well, all your posts in was about the train crash since it happened last week. I am surprised about the lack of coverage in Western Media, but now it is beginning to going away in the Chinese Media also.


  7. Why does it not surprise me that Pugster seems encouraged about media focus moving away from this “accident”? One does wonder about his motivation sometimes.


  8. @Custer
    You have misunderstood Pugster. The topic is not relevant, at least thats what the state-media says, so why would you want to report and write about it?!


  9. @C Custer,

    Yes, Chinese propaganda dept has put in a gag order, but I don’t see it as a big deal. Besides, what have they have anything “new” to report of the incident? Nothing, but maybe some cranky Law professor who thinks he knows about ‘transparent’ investigations or some guy mock made up some song.


  10. Gag orders are not a big deal. And funny enough, not much “new” to report as a result. Coincidence? Hmm, must ask our resident Sherlock about that one.

    Can’t say how much the good professor knows about “transparent” investigations. But dollars to donuts, it is more than the good pug, who seems to think that, because a “transparent” investigation is not explicitly stipulated in the Constitution, it must be something that’s not worth having.


  11. Re: the recent demand for a media blackout.
    Good luck suckers.
    Game on for whack a mole and those bloody moles are procreating.
    The Propaganda Bozos are simply turning themselves in a laughing stock/figures of ridicule. You would thinks they (unlike our friend) had more brains and tactical sense.


  12. Custer, Putzster is basically making yet another argument as to why he should be banned from this site until he learns to actually read. In this case, outlets such as the Guardian, the BBC, etc. have all covered this story, including the backlash from citizens unconvinced and unimpressed by government attempts to cover the whole thing up. Since this kind of coverage (i.e., reporting what is actually happening) is usually described by him as ‘criticism’, one wonders what he is talking about.

    Actually I don’t have a clue what he is talking about, it makes no sense – his argument seems to be that because it is fading in the media you shouldn’t cover it, although this is in part due to a gag order (I guess you shouldn’t cover that either). Of course law professors don’t know about investigations, and people who sing protest songs shouldn’t be covered even though hundreds of thousands of Chinese people are watching the video.

    Really, this is just pure trollery. Ban Pugster and end the stupidity which clouds up each and every thread he posts on.


  13. I can’t believe that people actually take pug_sters comments seriously: it should be obvious to anyone with a quarter of a braincell that he is being paid to derail intelligent comment and sabotage any anti-party/pro-reform discussion.

    Honestly, just ignore him.

    When the time comes, he, and the rest of his nasty little friends will be found and put up against the wall alongside the rest of the people who tried to hold China back by strangling reform of Chinese politics in the cradle.


  14. Looks like FOARP and his fellow PKD trolls are whining about me again complaining about my reading skills rather than talking about the topic at hand. Media blackout and gag orders are common in Western Media (just look at the Iraq and Afghanistan wars), so now so many people are horrified that China has one.

    On the last piece by Andy Yee of some Law professor basically wants some kind of public Casey Anthony type of show trial to see who’s going to the death chamber next. Now this crazy song about people should be enraged screaming for blood is not going to help the situation of making safer HSR’s.

    If there have any articles about the problems that could’ve caused this problem like faulty signaling systems and not whine about Chinese government, maybe I would give a damn.


  15. @ pug_ster: So you don’t think this incident has raised any systemic or broader issues worth discussing? I suppose you’re welcome to that opinion, but I think most people would disagree. See Weibo for plenty of evidence of this.


  16. C Custer,

    I never said that. This song is more like a parody rather than focusing on systemic issues on ways to make HSR safer.


  17. I agree. What would be on-topic would be a song offering a bullet-pointed list of policy solutions and technical improvements that could be made to improve HSR systems. Get real.


  18. To da Pug:

    when your “points” are predicated on your inability to read, you are the one that makes said inability an issue. Read properly, think logically, and you won’t have those problems. Never too late to start. I recommend you get on with it. In the meantime, man up and stop complaining about it like a little girl.

    Media blackouts do occur, such as with certain trials where a publication ban is felt to improve the likelihood of a fair trial, or where it might be respectful of the victims of certain crimes. They also do occur in war zones. Now, would you say the HSR accident falls under any such categories? Or are you again comparing apples and oranges as you are known to do?

    If the the logic eludes you, the point is that you don’t merely look at the action (ie. blackout), but also look at the impetus for said action. If a western government ordered a blackout on media investigative coverage of an accident, then you would have a comparable situation.

    How does a call for a transparent investigation “basically” equate to a media circus? Your…ahem…”logic” eludes me. Perhaps you can be so kind as to help me understand how you “think”.

    And hey, if you are truly interested in learning how to make HSR safer (which I highly doubt, btw), what is wrong with a transparent investigation with testimony from experts and the power to hold people to account?

    Yes, more articles about problems that led to this accident would indeed be welcome. And why are there suddenly fewer of these articles? Oh, that’s right, because your favourite government is trying to put a stop to them. So if you were in any way morally internally consistent, you would be leading the charge to complain about the CCP’s handling of this case. Somehow, i doubt you have such consistent principles.


  19. Oh, and who cares if you give a damn. You’re not Chinese. You’re American of Chinese descent. Folks like you so frequently conflate the two.


  20. Pug_ster,

    Go apply for a tourist visa to China, fly to Wenzhou, and tell the victims’ families (face to face!) that you’re happy that there’s a media gag order. Also, tell them you think this song is just a silly parody.

    What a spoiled American, living in a comfy bubble, able to freely and openly express your opinion, but completely removed from what’s actually happening in China.


  21. and let’s ban that person you all gang up on. and make a dubstep version of that, too. let’s call that “scary trolls and nice censors.”

    i am always amazed by people who resort to shutting others up instead of just ignoring them. and it’s particularly fun to read them advocating freedom of speech afterwards like nothing has happened.


  22. I agree. No need to prevent Pugster from commenting here. Besides, his being here serves a significant entertainment purpose.

    On the other hand, nothing being suggested by others here even remotely approaches what the CCP is doing. This is Custer’s house. At the utmost, people are encouraging Custer to keep Pug out of Custer’s house. Pug could still do his thing in any other house. That’s a little different from the CCP iteration, where, if it was entirely up to them, no one could do anything in anybody’s house.


  23. You can shut the people up, but you can’t make them ride the train.

    If they don’t find the root cause and fix it (and there may be many root causes), people will drive or take a plane or ride the old, pokey train – they’re all risky, too, but the perceived risk will be smaller. They can’t sell the technology to any first world country, because the technology is suspect.

    So instead of burying cars and censoring the press, they ought to just figure out what went wrong and fix it. It seems so simple.

    I am sorry for all of the people, for their loss and for their uncertainty. Thanks for the updates.


  24. For the record, pug_ster is welcome to comment here forever, as long as he abides by the comment policy. This goes for everyone. Obviously, he and I frequently disagree on the issues, and I also have some issues with the logical jumps I think he makes, but that is not, and will never be sufficient cause to ban someone on this site.

    On that note also, let’s refrain from making snap comments about ethnicity or nationality unless they’re truly relevant. I would say that to an extent, nation of residence is relevant here, since those who ride these trains have a legitimate interest in insuring their safety that is perhaps more urgent than those who live abroad. With that said, pug_ster’s residence in the US doesn’t mean he’s not allowed to have an opinion on this, and I’m sure that he has family or friends in China who are endangered by these trains too.


  25. @Custer – For the record, Pugster is a troll who, seemingly purposefully, makes the most obtuse misreadings of commentary time and time again. He is going to continue to louse up these boards – but then it’s your blog and you can do as you wish.


  26. Like I said, you don’t have to read what the guy says, just ignore him.

    The greatest weapon we have against the paid propagandists of the Chinese Comedy Party is simply not paying attention to them. They get all hissy for a while, start calling names and casting aspersions…

    …then they just disappear.

    Let pug_ster keep screaming at hurricanes, it will do neither he nor his masters any good.


  27. Narsfweasels,

    If you don’t know by now, I don’t get paid by the Chinese Comedy Party, or whatever you want to call it. Second, it seems that you are a troll who are calling names.


  28. So Pug, looks like you’re still around. I’m glad. Why not have a go at some of the questions I posed to you in my comment of August 1, 2011 at 0424hrs? In case you’re wondering, those questions can be found in paragraphs 2, 4, and 5. Good luck.


  29. Chinese/French/German rock music = oxymoron.
    Rock music is strictly an English speaking franchise.
    Any rock song as a vessel for political protest is both pathetic and at odds with the genre.

    A “rock” song with a spoken interlude. Risible to put it mildly.

    Rock is about energy, chemical excess and broken glass, not this recycled oriental drivel.

    And if you want to argue with me, you had better have something to say beyond Guns Roses/Bon Jovi. One thing is certain. Commenters in this part of the blogosphere are not distinguished by their musical depth.

    And I’m on topic.


  30. What the heck is the big deal? FFS just ignore him. There are lots of folk with logic and literacy issues.

    Pugster does frequently break the rules – by veering wildly off topic (like 70% of the comments here), but I’m sure Custer has better things to do than being a cyber janitor.


  31. I can see it now. Neat rows of earnest youth swaying in time, while waving those silly bloody plastic things. Sing a long time, protest lite. What a vomit inducing vision. Trust China to re-engineer Peter, Paul and Mary.

    Now, if China turned out a half-decent Anarchy in the PRC type band, that would be a small step forward. But I wouldn’t hang by the neck.

    Pls Custer, no more posts like this. Even CS draws the line at stuff like this.


  32. @King Tubby

    Rock in China is “revolutionary” because its rootless, foreign and used to be banned. Rock arrived in China in the early 80s when the US started sending their trash to China to dispose of, and a some cassettes were in there as well pre-China’s opening up, so rock acquired a sort of exotic badassery. Chinese have no concept of the kind of inflections genre has to Westerners at all. Its absurd to us, but you can put Ashley Simpson and Deep Purple next to eachother in a playlist and I doubt many locals will bat an eyelid. My local Carrefour plays non stop rave music while you shop for linen for god’s sake.

    But yeah. Original Chinese rock sucks.


  33. @KT

    There are actually a lot of shit stirring punk rock dissident punk rock bands – but they’re godawfully boring Sex Pistol facsimiles.


  34. @brightgrey. I’ve caught a few clips of PRC bands ranging from FQ thrash artists to metal exponents and they were beyond parody. All big hair, codpieces and/or shanzhai gestures. Personally, I would ship the lot off to a Zingjiang labour camp for being total prats.

    China should stick to making guitars amps, etc. On no condition should they be encouraged to learn the three basic chords, as they are genetically hardwired to make horses asses of themselves. ***Lets be extremely clear: I am running a race DNA genetic argument here.***

    By contrast, some Japanese bands have an excellent grasp of a number of rock idioms.

    Chinese can and do become highly proficient in classical violin, piano etc as it requires technical skills, endless repetition and misguided notions of what constitutes high Western culture with Mummy looking over your shoulder. As for personality in their performance: in the international arena this all skills/no personality is widely acknowledged. Always the second bow and never the virtuoso.


  35. @bright grey

    I hear that. The state of the music scene here is depressing at best. It’s a lot like the comedy clubs here – people who really wouldn’t get a job in the rest of the world, but the dearth of quality means the mundane becomes the laudable.


  36. “If you don’t know by now, I don’t get paid by the Chinese Comedy Party, or whatever you want to call it.”

    Although I’ve yet to read a Wumao or FQ comment that does China’s image more good than harm, I have to ask why pug doesn’t insist on being paid like a party shill when he acts precisely like a party shill.


  37. China should stick to making guitars amps, etc. On no condition should they be encouraged to learn the three basic chords, as they are genetically hardwired to make horses asses of themselves. ***Lets be extremely clear: I am running a race DNA genetic argument here.***

    good for you, monsieur, for the worst attempt at a joke i’ve seen in months.

    the expat friends i hang out with and play poi with are the greatest people, and then you get online and see someone like this. well. maybe that’s why you can only see them online instead of the real world which must be very harsh to live in for them.


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