John Denver :: In a Faraway Land

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Shepherd Kids by Jiang Tao
Shepherd Kids, Hand painted on Rice Paper, Jiang Tao (2005)
From XABusiness

Being in Shenzhen, China for over a week now, I have not yet been fully able to realize that I am in that Great Ancient Orient which Marco Polo had traveled and to the Rulers of whom even the Sultan of Bengal had paid tribute. Deng Xiao Ping‘s economic counter-revolution (or rather, progressive revolution) makes Shenzhen stand strong as a global industrial hub in 2012.

Away from home, I immerse myself in that old favorite Chinese song of mine — John Denver’s In a Far Away Land. My Chinese colleague seemed fairly surprised when he caught me humming the tune. So here I sit in my hotel room listening to the song again and again, and writing about it.

I suppose proper credit is due to John Denver (1943-1997) for making the song popular enough to have come to my attention and help me impress my Han peer. I’ve listened to several renditions of the same song by Chinese artists, but the John Denver song remains so special. He sings it with all the passion imaginable and with almost impeccable pronunciation (so says my friend). This one is from his Tour of Australia in 1994, and appears in his CD Sing Australia (In Concert).


The translation and simplified chinese transcript of the song were quite painless to find on the Internet (Wikia and many more). The challenge was to find the pronunciation of the Mandarin so I could not only hum to the tune, but be able to ‘sing’ it as well. What helped me out was a Chinese to Pinyin (Romanized Mandarin) transcripter: Yijit. So here goes!

Pinyin Transcription of John Denver Version

(with help from Yijit)

zài nà yáo yuǎn de dì fāng
yǒu wèi hǎo gū niáng
rén men zǒu guò tā de zhàng fáng
dōu yào huí tóu liú liàn dì zhāng wàng

wǒ yuàn zuò yī zhǐ xiǎ yáng
gēn zài tā shēn páng
wǒ yuàn tā ná zhe xì xì de pí biān
bù duàn qīng qīng dǎ zài wǒ shēn shàng

zài nà yáo yuǎn de dì fāng
yǒu wèi hǎo gū niáng
wǒ yuàn tā ná zhe xì xì de pí biān
bù duàn qīng qīng dǎ zài wǒ shēn shàng

wǒ yuàn tā ná zhe xì xì de pí biān
bù duàn qīng qīng dǎ zài wǒ shēn shàng

English Translation of John Denver Version

(from Wikia)

There is a nice, pretty girl,
In a far away land
When people pass by her tent,
They always stop and take a double-glimpse

I wish I can be a young lamb,
Running towards you, until I am by your side
I wish her narrow quirt always whips me gently

There is a nice, pretty girl,
In a far away land
When people pass by her tent,
They always stop and take a double-glimpse

I wish I can be a young lamb,
Running towards you, until I am by your side
I wish her narrow quirt always whips me gently

I wish I can be a young lamb,
Running towards you, until I am by your side
I wish her narrow quirt always whips me gently

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