You were driving your grey Volkswagen up the snow-covered mountain while my eyes followed the last ray of winter sun out of the window. We were on our first roadtrip together to Nashville and just made a brief stop at Gatlinburg. The city was cute and artificial -a small American town that would be pretty in its own right had it not re-decorated itself to look like a fake Christmas Village in Norway.
"It's cute but kind of all built up. Nothing original."
I replied to your question about the town we just left behind. You nodded in agreement, your eyes on the road. Smoky Mountain is famous for its Fall Folliage but we only started dating in Winter so we can only experience this scenery of black concrete highway, snow mountain, dark blue winter sky.
You changed the music from your phone. The crisp and slow guitar melody faded in - sweet but rustic, the sound story of a folklore tragedy. The one where a man screams to God for mercy but God turns away and tell him to get the money. The unfortunate, the helpless type of tragedy. Then the woman started to sing - her voice soft but determined with a large pitch of dark hollowness inside. I recognised the lyrics but not the singer.
It was a cover of Vincent.
For a second, I held my breath I did not know I was holding. The song hit me. It was not just a song or a cover but it was gospel - a whisper so clear, an echo so quiet, a feeling so hidden. My soul suddenly shivered because of an unknown loss. The darkened sky outside was full of dream-like, painted, messy dots of stars. Starry Starry Night. Blue and Grey. The song transported me to where the Real and Unreal transcended. I can feel my numb fingers, cold feet and the soft tip of my nose.
I knew at the moment that I was fated.
I was fated to remember you and this minute your grey Volkswagen climbed down the slope in the hilly highway of Smoky Mountain. Our first roadtrip. Us. You - who brought me this beautiful magic recited in English and with a guitar.
My favourite song, my beloved painter - all the things that used to belong to my inner soul were now tainted with the kindness in your eyes.
This song will always transport me back to the night sky, this passenger seat and the vast warmness of yours.
"Oh my god. This song is my favourite. Who is the singer ? This version is good."
When the magic had worn out, the song had ended, and the invisible veil had been lifted, I finally spoke.
"Yeah, she is Taiwanese and did many covers in English. She is my favourite too"
You replied in your normal tone but I hope you shared with me that mystical minutes that just passed by.
"Can I listen to it again ? What is her name ?"
"๋Yeah, just use my phone. Her name is Wang Zhi-ping. I think she has an English name too but you have to google it. I cant remember."
"Okay, I ll do it. Her voice is so angelic. I think it is gonna be my fav version of this song now."
"By the way, I remember you told me once that you like Van Gogh."
"Yeah. Have I told you the time when I went to Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam ?"
"Well, it was two years ago. I was doing my European history trip alone and I stopped in ... "
The folklore tragedy began again with its concealed romance and inexplicable sorrow. The unfortunate, the helpless type.
Based on Wikipedia, Wang Zhi-ping or Joanna Wang is a Taiwanese-American singer. She was born in Taipei but raised in LA, the city of angels.