The Wandering Songstress 天涯歌女

A miserable poignant story of the singer’s life and the lyrics


Chinese Name: 天涯歌女

English Name: The Wandering Songstress, Tian Ya Ge Nv

Composer: He Luting 贺绿汀

Lyricist: Tian Han 田汉

Singer: Zhou Xuan 周璇

The Wandering Songstress 天涯歌女
The notation of Wandering Songstress

The Wandering Songstress 天涯歌女 is a song sung by Zhou Xuan 周璇, written by Tian Han 田汉, and adapted by He Luting 贺绿汀 according to the Suzhou 苏州 folk minor. It is an episode of the movie Street Angel 马路天使.

Composition Story Of The Wandering Songstress

Zhou Xuan was a well-known “golden voice” in Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s, and one of the earliest Chinese singers and actresses.

In 1937, the drama Street Angel starring Zhou Xuan became the representative work of her acting career. Among them, she sang The Wandering Songstress for the film, which has been sung to this day.

The Wandering Songstress 天涯歌女
Wandering Songstress 天涯歌女

It is no exaggeration to say that in those days, Zhou Xuan’s songs were playing all over Shanghai. Zhou Xuan’s songs not only influenced Shanghai at that time but also provided countless cover materials for Hong Kong and Taiwan singers such as Teresa Teng 邓丽君 and Anita Mui 梅艳芳 decades later.

The sound memory of Chinese films in the 1930s started with The Wandering Songstress, which is an unwritten rule in the history of Chinese films for a hundred years. The Wandering Songstress is an old song that every Chinese who is not familiar with the past is most familiar with. In many people’s minds, it is the only intuitive impression of old Shanghai pop music. In a sense, it is attached to the film Street Angel. The special status of Street Angel in the history of Chinese film has been handed down to this day.

The Wandering Songstress 天涯歌女
Zhou Xuan 周璇

Filmed in 1937, Street Angel is famous in the history of Chinese film, not only the love story of the beautiful Zhou Xuan and the handsome Zhao Dan 赵丹 but also a popular movie song.

Among them, the most famous one is The Wandering Songstress sung by Zhou Xuan, composed by Tian Han, and tuned by He Luting. Years later, the image of the pitiful wandering songstress was deeply rooted in the hearts of the people.
The musical elements of The Wandering Songstress were born out of the popular Suzhou folk minor tune at that time, and the beautiful and somewhat sad melody rooted in the folk has a wonderful fit with the life experience of the singing girl in the film.

On the one hand, the film proves to us the possibility of Chinese popular music being successfully born out of folk music, and on the other hand, this film witnesses the birth of the Chinese people’s favorite song in the 20th century.

The Wandering Songstress 天涯歌女
He Luting 贺绿汀

At that time, Zhou Xuan became a generation of stars by her affectionate interpretation and singing in The Wandering Songstress, and won the honor of “Golden Voice”. In the film, when Zhou Xuan sings, it is the earliest MV we can see in China, accompanied by the switching scenes in the film. This classic song is still very charming to this day.

Before Zhou Xuan, singers all sang loudly with their voices high, but her tender and tender way of singing into the microphone was the first of its kind. Zhou said, “My whole life is to sing.” Although it is still early to become famous, Zhou Xuan has never stopped to continue to study music deeply. She once took an American female singer as her teacher and integrated the Western vocal method with her original natural vocal method.

Born in 1903, He Luting, a native of Hunan, is a famous Chinese composer and music educator. Representative works include Cowherd’s Flute 牧童短笛, Guerrilla Song 游击队歌, The Wandering Songstress, and so on. In the 1920s, He Luting entered the Shanghai Star Film Company, and since then, the story of him and Chinese film soundtracks began. He Luting is one of the pioneers specializing in film music production in my country.

The Wandering Songstress 天涯歌女
Tian Han 田汉

The Wandering Songstress composed by He Luting and and lyrics by Tian Han is accompanied by folk music, which is something no one has tried before the 1930s. This move brought the originally unpopular folk music into the hall of elegance.

Lyrics of The Wandering Songstress

Chinese Lyrics



















English Translation

To the ends of the ends

I serching for you

to accompany me when I sing

my loved, we share a single heart


We share a single heart

I look north from my home

and the tears well up

I’ve never stopped missing you

true loves in adversity


True loves in adversity

Everyone in life cherishes youth

We are together, never apart


I am the thread, you the needle

We are together, never apart

The Wandering Songstress Teresa Teng 邓丽君

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