Editorial: Endless Farewell, Hello Again by CT Lim

Editorial: Endless Farewell, Hello Again

X'Ho performing live at Sing50 in 2015. The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2015.
X’Ho performing live for Sing50 at the National Stadium in 2015. The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2015.

The late Chris Ho (musician, DJ, writer, filmmaker), who passed away last September, had given us many gifts. But more than anything, Chris Ho taught us about the seasons in life. There are ups and downs, maybe more downs than we want it to be. But that can’t be helped. We try our best and do what we can with the cards life deals to us. 

Since his passing, I have been listening to Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. Not so much her original 1969 version but the one she released in 2000 when she revisited her most covered composition.

I have been pondering over these lines:

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say, “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

Oh, but now old friends they’re acting strange
And they shake their heads and they tell me that I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

We do not have all the answers and maybe we won’t ever. We don’t really know life at all and maybe either did Chris. But something is lost and something is gained in living every day. And perhaps that’s good enough.

Chris Ho with Mick Jagger. Image courtesy of Lim Cheng Tju.
Chris Ho with Mick Jagger. Image courtesy of Chris Ho.

Why a standalone issue on Chris? It could be because s/pores is always concerned with historical amnesia. We do not want Chris to be forgotten. Our regular music contributor, Joseph Tham, wrote about his remembrances of Chris plus a review of his last album. Too many focused on Chris’ early career that his solo albums of the last 15 years are ignored. We have reviewed two of them in the past and have reprinted them here in this issue. Chris also wrote a review for us before – 10 years ago in our pop culture issue.

Chris is a kindred soul, who in his own ways, spoke for the marginalized. There is this important quote from an interview musician, Vivian Wang, gave back in 2013 when she, Leslie Low and Chris released the Lucifugous album:

What goes under-recognized in Chris’ music, is his genuine and abiding concern for his fellow human beings – his fellow Singaporeans. Chris displayed a deep emphatic wrath towards ugly and draconian behaviour, which really conversely means he feels for people. He aligns himself with the disenfranchised, and his rants are a way of standing up for real people and fellow human beings. There’s an anonymous quote that seemed appropriate to Chris: ‘The loneliest people are the kindest, the saddest smile the brightest, the most damaged people are the wisest. All because they don’t wish to see anyone else suffer the way they do.’

I first met Chris in 1987 at the No Surrender gig at the Anywhere pub at Tanglin Shopping Centre. It was organized by BigO zine to showcase local alternative bands, including Zircon Lounge. There was no cover charge but you were expected to buy a drink. I didn’t have the money. Chris was at the door and told them they should just let me in.

Despite his punk image and reputation, my first encounter with Chris was one of kindness. He will always be a gentle soul in all the years I have known him since.

Image courtesy of Chris Ho.
Zircon Lounge, Anywhere. 1987. Image courtesy of Chris Ho.

Chris Ho with David Bowie. Image courtesy of Lim Cheng Tju.
Chris Ho with David Bowie. Image courtesy of Chris Ho.

I think of the ways how Chris has influenced me. I did not pick up a guitar and form a band, but I did want to write and share my passion about music, comics and movies with others. It is that criticality and celebration of the pop life where Chris shaped us, the serious fans. His former editor at The Straits Times, Yeow Kai Chai reflects on Chris’ music writing and we reprint his review of The Replacements from the 1980s. His voice remains unique.

Now, I recalled another set of lyrics from an album Chris loved and reviewed for BigO in 1988 – Soul Asylum’s Endless Farewell from the Hang Time album.

To restore your faith and all the things you’ve come to hate
You give and you take and you leave, leave it alone
What I want so badly for this to be a place you can call home, and I haven’t felt this
Way since yesterday, but I don’t remember when
What I want so badly to be someone you can call a friend, till we meet again
Endless Farewell. Hello, Hello, Hello again

NB: When we were putting this issue together, we learned that another pioneer of the music scene, Hafidz Samsudin, lead singer of Stomping Ground, passed away on 23 February 22. 

Eight Miles High – 11/3/22

1) X’Ho – Good Master, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtNtbpr8hV4

2) Chris Ho – Long Long Summer, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9zG36zP6v0

3) Zircon Lounge – Vaneepok, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=T2Q_8gcWafY

4) Roxy Music – In Every Dream Home a Heartache, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G56DaSAeZfM

5) Lou Reed – Street Hassle, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LK9JjW2noo

6a) On The Fringe: Chris Ho (interview with Chris in 1998), https://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/audiovisual_records/record-details/624620e3-1164-11e3-83d5-0050568939ad

6b) On The Fringe: Chris Ho (interview with Chris in 1999), https://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/audiovisual_records/record-details/624afaf2-1164-11e3-83d5-0050568939ad

7) Writers Unlimited: Chris Ho (interview with Chris in 1997), https://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/audiovisual_records/record-details/6fd0cbb7-1164-11e3-83d5-0050568939ad

8) Review of Godzilla vs Kong (1 April 2021), https://omny.fm/shows/movies-move-with-chris-ho/godzilla-vs-kong


Who Exactly is Chris Ho/X’Ho??
Joseph Tham

‘No Mean Task’: The Subversive Lightness of Chris Ho’s ‘Pop Life’
Yeow Kai Chai

Let’s hear it for these boys
Chris Ho

Review: Chris Ho’s Adventures in YinYao EP
Joseph Tham

Past s/pores reviews of X’Ho albums

Review of Singapura Uber Alles
Joseph Tham

Senile Dementia

Past s/pores review by X’Ho

Review of Catacombs