Renmin Park, volume 1 – Cicadas

On June 4th 1989 we were touring the west coast of the United States, when word escaped from China about the massacre in Tiananmen Square. The world had been watching, there had been this sparkle of hope shining from a country that had been dark to us for so many years. And then it ended in such a brutal and final fashion. For the rest of that tour we dedicated Powderfinger to those who had been out on the square: ultimately, a futile gesture. Despite the futility, we performed the song each night because it felt right to try and mark this moment in history, it felt right to take pause.

The history of The June 4th Movement has all but been officially wiped out from China’s collective memory. It’s not a subject that is lightly raised among the older generation and yet in certain company mentioning it would draw honest blank expressions: for most people under the age of thirty it is like it never took place. Tiananmen Square is a massive public square in the heart of Beijing. The only thing rising from its stone is Mao’s mausoleum: when you stand in the middle of the square it’s hard not to imagine that night and the thousands of people gathered and the coming of the tanks and the panic and the fear and the terror. This was the last lyric that I wrote for the album.

Hear them buzzing in the trees

A lot like us a dying breed.

One voice now is all we need.

Hear them buzzing in the trees.

Nothing left but empty shells.

No memory now of where we fell.

No one left to truely tell

the tale of how we truley fell.

Once again the simple truth

is crushed beneath the leather boot.

A lot like us a dying breed.

No trees here to hide behind

those big red wheels they slowly grind.

Hear them buzzing in the trees.

Tiananmen Square and The Forbiden City