I wrote this four years ago, when I underwent National Service in Malaysia, a year before coming to the UK.
The song started on paper, and when I had returned from National Service, I proceeded to play it on the piano and record it with the only means I had at the time: a cell phone mic. Fast-forward to 2013: this is the best version I have been able to muster.
The timing couldn't be better for the remake: some of my former schoolmates have been reaped for National Service and are making their way to the camps to which they have been assigned. I wrote this song in contemplation of whatever could happen in those camps: even though they were a very tiny minority, some people were sent to the training camps only to have very scarring experiences, and some were sent there never to return home alive. I realised that these possibilities were real.
Sur la terre des hommes libres, le soleil se lève
Et là-haut j'aperçois des reves
Je me relève et j'ouvre mes pas
Mes yeux se fixent sur l'au-delà
Sur la terre des hommes libres, je regarde le ciel
Je me dis que la vie est belle
Je prends le large et je garde mon sourire
Puis-je défier l'avenir ?
Lentement j'avance, j'affronte mon destin
Je souhaite oublier mon chagrin
La lumière au milieu du noir
Brillera-t-elle dans mon cœur ce soir ?
In the land of the free, the sun rises,
And up above, I see dreams
I get up and I begin walking
My eyes are fixed on what lies beyond
In the land of the free, I look up to the sky,
I tell myself that life is beautiful
I go forth and I keep my smile
Will I be able to defy the future?
Slowly I advance, I face my destiny,
I wish to forget my chagrin
The light in the middle of the darkness
Will it shine in my heart tonight?