In his lengthy article, which appeared in The Journal of Asian Studies, John C. Schafer explains what makes Trinh Cong Son a phenomenon (PDF):
[T]he freshness of his early love songs, the evocation of Buddhist themes, the rhetorical context of South Vietnam during the American war, the ethos or persona that Trịnh Công Sơn projected, Sơn’s discovery of the talented singer Khánh Ly, the emergence of the cassette tape recorder, and Trịnh Công Sơn’s ability to adapt after the war to a new political climate.
Highlight of the piece is where Thai Kim Lan, an old friend of TCS, discussed “Moi Ngay Toi Chon Mot Niem Vui” (“Each Day I Choose a Peace of Happiness”):
Despite its rather upbeat title, she felt that it revealed the songwriter as having to work awfully hard to be happy—it showed him trying to make do with little freedoms because larger ones were denied him.
Now it’s time to crack open Trinh Cong Son 1939-2001: Cuoc Doi, Am Nhac, Tho, Hoi Hoa & Suy Tuong, a special gift from a Visualgui.com’s reader. Thank you. I appreciate it.