Over the weekend, I came across Thùy Dương’s Chút Tình Xa Vắng while spending time at my in-law’s house. Thanks to my son Đán who pushed all of the CDs off the shelf and led me to discover the album, but I didn’t listen to it until we spent a few days in Atlantic City. Sunday night when the kids went to bed with their mom and grandma, I strolled down the boardwalk from casino to casino looking for a cheap Pai Gow table to play. Started from the Tropicana where we stayed, I walked all the way to the Taj Mahal in the middle of the night and listened to Chút Tình Xa Vắng.
After having to deal with the kids all day long, nothing beat walking down the beautiful night with Thùy Dương to unwind. Her rendition of “Đà Lạt Trong Nỗi Nhớ Muộn Màng” (Tú Nguyễn) was filled with nostalgia as the cool wind breezed by. “Lá Thư” a beloved ballad from Đoàn Chuẩn and Từ Linh had been covered many times, but never with the melancholy that Thùy Dương brought to it. Her interpretation of Trịnh Công Sơn’s “Hoa Vàng Mấy Độ,” “Lặng Lẽ Nơi Này” and “Như Một Lời Chia Tay” were all outstanding. Her voice was so cold, yet so hopeful.
Thanh Tùng’s “Giọt Nắng Bên Thềm” was not one of my personal favorites, especially when Thanh Lam butchered it, but Thùy Dương’s version just fucking cut it. She hardly sang in the upper register and yet she hit it dead on: “Bài hát tìm trong nỗi nhớ từng ngày bình yên.” You can just feel it.
When I excitedly telling my wife about an old gem I discovered in her parents’ place, she responded, “Honey, I bought that CD years ago.” As always, she’s way ahead of me.