One morning in the first week of Jan 2016, a chunsa friend texted me with this weird question: “How much love do you have in your wallet?” Huh? Why is she checking my wallet? My first thought was she must be running a fever or my Samsung cell phone spelling function was acting up again. I must remember to disable its auto-spelling. Surely, she must mean money in my wallet? Or love in my heart? Her words made no sense to me. Mind you, she is a wordsmith. Often mistaken as an English Literature major.
I made some unintelligible comments before she broke the news that Park Yu Chun is finally going to release his first solo album in 10 days. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The curse of infertility is broken. It’s like the long wait for the arrival of my first baby is over. And the water bag has burst. The baby is soon to be delivered. I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. That’s my reaction to the news.
Junsu and Jae Joong released their many solo albums since 2012/2013 to much acclaim. And I have been pregnant with such longing and expectation for Yu Chun to follow suit. I waited for 2/3 long years. But it didn’t happen. Then he was drafted into the military. That’s when I gave up hope and could only pray that during his 2 years away, he would compose new songs and conceive his solo album after his discharge.
When a baby is born, you have to give it a name. So I was somewhat puzzled when that chunsa revealed to me that his solo album is called “How much LOVE do you have in your wallet?” (HMLDYHIYW). Yu Chun speaks English, doesn’t he? How can he make such a language error? His detractors will say he meant “How much do you love me that you are willing to open your wallet to buy my album?” We know that is totally not Yu Chun.
One online translation has it as “How much do you love what’s in your wallet?” Hmm….that would depend how rich I am.
But knowing how artists can take liberty with creativity, I am less alarmed. We have seen Yu Chun composed “Kiss the baby sky”. We can kiss the sky metaphorically. But who would describe the sky a “baby”? Only Yu Chun does. And he did explain why later. He actually does not take liberty with the language. His poetic, free spirit makes him think out of the box.
His detractors are silenced when we are reminded that Yu Chun had once said he had a dream of his late father where the money he had given his father was still in the wallet. So that’s where love is. In the wallet.
The lyrics in HMLDYHIYW are so family-centric. So philosophical about life. Money does not figure at all in this song. When I hear him sing, I feel he is narrating not just his life with his dad. But espousing the cycle of life.
Why do the HMLDYHIYW lyrics ”For every inch I grow taller, my parents become shorter” resonate with me?
The week after HMLDYHIYW was released, I attended a talk in a huge auditorium with my daughter. It was a few thousand seat auditorium. Because of overwhelming attendance, we had to sit in separate sections. After seeing me settled in my seat, my daughter told me before she went to find a seat for herself “Mum, please do not move after the talk. Stay here, I will come back for you.” She was worried I would be lost in a sea of people.
Suddenly, it hit me that it was not so long ago when I had reassured my little young daughter that same way when we were out, together. Whether in the playgrounds or after school. Now she deems it fit to reassure me instead. Since when did she grow taller and I become shorter? Just like what Yu Chun must have felt about his parents in HMLDYHIYW. Children growing up and watching their parents age.
I am also reminded of his composition in the JYJ song “Dad, you there?” where he reminisces about his late father.
What does his music say about Yu Chun as a person?
Whether composing music, writing lyrics or releasing his solo album, his family is never far from his heart. His lyrics define the poet in him. But his heart defines the family man that he always will be.
So how much love do you have in your heart for Yu Chun? Search yourself. Deep within. Maybe you too will find the importance of showing love for your family in the process of looking for Yu Chun. It feels like he is asking us to reflect “How much love do you have in your wallet?” For your loved ones.
Written by: YC Love