Jenn’s Jams ♪: A Song For My Dad

Jennifer Zhang

Hey everyone, I’m finally bringing you guys another cover today, but it’s different from my other covers (I know, I’m really giving y’all some variety lately, haha). This time, I sang the song in Mandarin!

It was my dad’s birthday on July 15, and because I was in Asia during Father’s Day, I wanted to do something more special for his birthday this year. I’m the worst when it comes to gift-giving and anything birthday-related in general, even though my parents have both been the “it’s the thought that counts” type of people for as long as eternity.

When I was in China, my youngest aunt was recommending me some Chinese music, and played one called “Father” by the Chopsticks Brothers for me. I think I teared up listening to it—the lyrics are really moving and I felt the urge to hug my dad. My aunt said it would be a good song to sing to him for Father’s Day, but it had already passed by then, so I decided to cover it for his birthday since it was coming up anyway. I had neither my recording equipment nor, any time to do the cover while I was on my trip, so I had to rush it a little bit once I got back.

The project ended up taking two days to do. I spent about an hour and a half recording my vocal tracks to an instrumental that I asked my brother to pull off a Chinese website for me (since I couldn’t find any on Google), and about four hours editing all the audio. I finished the audio part at about three in the morning and I had plans at nine the next day, so I had no choice but to go to bed and put off the project a little more.

I finished the song on the day of my dad’s birthday—I decided to make a video to go with the song so it would be easier to follow along with the lyrics, and also I just think it’s a lot more complete with a video. I tried to edit on Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 like I always do, but for some reason it wouldn’t read Chinese characters, so I frantically scrambled onto iMovie. Luckily, iMovie does read Chinese characters, and it wasn’t too hard for me to figure out how to use, considering I’d never attempted it before. One funny thing was that some aspects of iMovie were so simple that I spent forever trying to figure out how to use the feature, because I was overthinking it after growing so accustomed to Premiere.

I took a nice picture off of the internet that would look good with white text, captioned the whole song in Chinese lyrics (ain’t nobody got time to do English lyrics on the day of my dad’s birthday), and stuck two pictures I thought my dad would like in there. (Note: I put in English subtitles for you all to be able to understand the song as well later on, all you have to do is turn on the CC subtitles.) I made a card to go with the video, and wrote in my almost-forgotten Chinese — that itself took so much energy out of me.

I painted the cover with some simple water colors
I painted the cover with some simple water colors

In the end, I gave my dad the card and sent him the link to the video I made after uploading it on YouTube, and he really liked it. He sent it to my mom, and they both sent it to their families in China. On my dad’s side, his family members didn’t say much because they thought it was some random song he found online until one of my nieces pointed out that “Aunty Jennifer sang it herself!” Then they really gave me props and listened to the song more closely. On my mom’s side, my aunt (the one that recommended me the song in the first time) started crying, and everyone else said they felt really touched as well. I think I’ve talked about this before, but when other people can feel the passion, sincerity, and effort I put into my music, and that moves them, I feel accomplished. My music has reached other people on a level deeper than just “sounding nice.”

The quality may not be the best because I did, in fact, rush this project a bit and finish it last minute, but I’m pretty happy with the end result. Hopefully you guys will like it too!

Before I go, happy 53rd birthday to my amazing dad, and happy belated Father’s Day.