Trinh Cong Son Scholarship

Trinh Cong Son, 62; Stirred Vietnam With War Protest Songs

Trinh Cong Son, an antiwar singer and songwriter whose melancholy music stirred Vietnamese, died on Sunday and was buried today at a Buddhist temple near Ho Chi Minh City. He was 62.

His family said he had diabetes after years of periodic hospital visits. Residents said thousands of mourners thronged his home, piling bouquets around it.

”Crying for Trinh Cong Son,” read the headline over a full-page tribute in the daily youth newspaper Thanh Nien this week.

”Truth, innocence and beauty in Son’s songs surpassed all hostility,” the newspaper said.

In his last years he took up painting as well as songwriting and was a fixture, with his friends and his bottle of Scotch, at a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon.

”Now, really, I have nothing to protest,” said Mr. Son in an interview last April on the 25th anniversary of end of the war. ”I continue to write songs, but they concern love, the human condition, nature. My songs have changed. They are more metaphysical now, because I am not young.”

Mr. Son’s popularity was at its height during the war years in the 1960’s and 1970’s when his songs propelled the careers of some of the best-known South Vietnamese singers. He became known internationally as the Bob Dylan of Vietnam, singing of the sorrow of war and the longing for peace in a divided country.

Almost everybody knew the words to songs like ”Ngu Di Con” (”Lullaby”), about the pain of a mother mourning her soldier son:

”Rest well my child, my child of the yellow race. Rock gently my child, I have done it twice. This body, which used to be so small, that I carried in my womb, that I held in my arms. Why do you rest at the age of 20 years?”

Born the eldest of seven children and trained as a teacher, Mr. Son never married. His siblings fled to Canada and the United States after the war, and since the death of his mother a few years ago he has been the only one of his family in Vietnam.