Singer’s unexpected return to the top : IU’s cover of ‘Autumn Morning’ has songwriter Lee Byeong-woo smiling

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Singer’s unexpected return to the top : IU’s cover of ‘Autumn Morning’ has songwriter Lee Byeong-woo smiling


Lee Byeong-woo [YONHAP]

Singer IU’s latest album “Kkot-Galpi #2” was released on Sept. 22, and her charming vocals are yet again delighting the eardrums of her fans. Older fans have been drawn to this particular album, as it features covers of songs that were popular years ago.

“Autumn Morning,” which was a no. 1 hit in 1991 sung by Yang Hee-eun and written by Lee Byeong-woo has been remade with IU’s signature acoustic touches. It’s been over 25 years since the song was written by Lee, and the composer is surprised to see his old child topping the charts after so many years.

“Autumn Morning” is full of lyrics that bring a nostalgic mood to the listener, illustrating a warm morning of a 1990s household. Listening to IU sing the scene of “My grandfather’s clock that strikes the bell every now and then” and “The busy sound of my mother doing her laundry” takes the audience back 26 years to when the song first came out.

“I wrote the song when I was 23 years old before I went abroad to study, and I’m really surprised to see that it’s back on the top of the charts,” said Lee. “[The scenes of the lyrics] are hard to see these days, but they were really common things that happened in my everyday life.”


Singer IU’s latest album “Kkot-Galpi #2” was released on Sept. 22, and features six cover songs. “Autumn Morning,” a track off the album, was initially sung in 1991 by singer Yang Hee-eun. [LOEN ENTERTAINMENT]

“I advised Yang, who had turned just 40 back then, to sing it with a deep and mature voice, but IU sung it in a totally different way; it has a young 20’s atmosphere melted into it, and I think it makes the two versions sound like totally different songs.” The “Autumn Morning” cover hit No. 1 on Korean music streaming sites immediately after its release.

Lee’s long list of song partners, from Yang to IU, actually goes back to 1986 when he debuted as a duo with the late folk singer Jo Dong-ik. Since then, Lee has been actively shaping the Korean music industry, becoming the first-ever Korean guitarist to release a solo album.

His business card carries many names, from a professor at the college of music at Sungshin Women’s University, music director for the upcoming PyeongChang Olympics to music director for numerous Korean movies. As of now, Lee is preparing for his upcoming solo guitar concert on Nov. 20 and 21 at the Baekam Art Hall in southern Seoul. Lee will be performing tracks off of his latest album, “Universe Guitar.”

Lee used to be closely acquainted to the late Jo Dong-jin, the elder brother of Lee’s former partner Jo Dong-ik and widely known as the “godfather of Korean underground music,” who passed away in August due to bladder cancer. Before Jo’s death, according to Lee, he was preparing to release an acoustic guitar album which Lee went against.

“’Happy Person’ and ‘Winter Rain’ are such good songs,” said Lee. “They just didn’t work without his voice. But then again, I still shouldn’t have went against his [album]. That was arrogant of me. I used to visit his house all the time. He’s like an older brother who used to take me fishing after practice. I’m just so sorry [about his death].”

Lee’s regrets for Jo are partly the reason he picked up his guitar again. “When I was mostly only playing the guitar, my muscles were always ready, like those of an athlete. But when I became more focused on composing film music, even the rare performance came across as a burden to me,” said Lee.

“But I don’t think it’s been all bad,” said Lee. “Because after 100 minutes of listening to a musician perform the same [instrument], the audience tends to get bored. Even if I play different things, like alternating between classic, acoustic and electric guitars, they can’t help but cheer louder to a music from a movie. Because it’s something they know. So I’ve prepared for a concert that’s like an all-in-one dish.”

Lee’s latest album offers a wide variety to savor. It starts off with “First Flight,” a subtle acoustic piece that paints the picture of a tranquil flight across the peaceful sky. He ends the 11-track album with his own version of the national anthem. “I’m all over the place,” laughed the guitarist.

Apparently, the guitar gave him more than just musical skills. It also gave him a way to live his life. “While I was learning to finish a song and had to practice to learn new techniques, I came to gather patience, as well as a weird sense of obsession,” said Lee. “There used to be a time when I bought each string [on the guitar] from different companies, but I know it’s up to me to play differently - so I now just use whatever’s around my house. I think it’s about how you set your mind. And, when will I ever have my name on the No. 1 spot again? I’m enjoying this happy moment.”


"30년 전 만든 '가을 아침' 1위 신기" 양희은과 달라서 매력

‘심심하면 쳐대는 괘종시계 종소리’와 ‘토닥토닥 빨래하는 어머니의 분주함’이 들리는 노래. 지난 18일 공개 이후 열흘째 음원사이트 1위를 지키고 있는 아이유의 ‘가을 아침’이다. 1991년 발표한 양희은의 곡을 리메이크했다. 이 곡의 원 작사·작곡자가 바로 기타리스트 이병우(52)다.

10월 20~21일 서울 백암아트홀에서 열리는 기타 솔로 콘서트 ‘우주기타’를 앞두고 서울 정동에서 만난 이병우는 “유학 가기 전 23살 때 만든 노래인데 지금 1위를 한다는 게 너무 신기하다”며 “지금은 보기 힘든 풍경이지만 그때는 제 일상에서 일어나는 일들을 담았다”고 말했다. 그는 “당시 마흔이 된 양희은씨에게 보다 낮고 원숙하게 부르길 권했는데 아이유는 정반대로 20대 감성이 녹아 있어 서로 다른 노래처럼 느껴진다”고 덧붙였다.

양희은에서 아이유까지를 작업 파트너로 아우르는 이병우는 1986년 조동익과 함께 ‘어떤날’로 데뷔해 국내 기타 연주자로서는 처음으로 독주 앨범을 내는 등 대중과 예술 사이를 오가는 선구자다. 오스트리아 빈 국립음대를 수석 졸업한 엘리트이자 영화음악 감독, 성신여대 교수, 평창 동계올림픽 음악감독 등 지니고 있는 직함만 해도 여러 개다.

지난달 방광암으로 세상을 떠난 ‘포크록의 대부’ 조동진과도 각별한 사이였던 그는 조동진이 준비하던 연주앨범에 대해 내지 말라고 반대한 사실이 너무 미안하다고 했다. “‘행복한 사람’ ‘겨울비’ 등 원곡이 정말 좋잖아요. 목소리와 가사가 없으니까 너무 아쉽더라고요. 그래도 제가 그러면 안 됐는데. 너무 건방졌죠. 스무살 때부터 그 집에 놀러 가서 거의 살다시피 하고, 연습 끝나면 낚시도 데려가 주던 저희 큰형님인데. 아쉬울 뿐이에요.”

다양한 활동을 펴던 그가 다시 기타에 전념하게 된 것도 이와 무관하지 않다. 그는 “기타를 한창 칠 때는 운동선수처럼 근육이 완벽하게 준비돼 있었는데 걸핏 하면 밤새가며 영화음악만 하다 보니 가끔 하는 공연조차 부담으로 다가왔다”고 고백했다. 기타로 보여주고 싶은 세상이 아직도 너무 많다는 그는 많을 땐 1년에 5편씩 하던 영화음악을 2014년 ‘국제시장’을 끝으로 잠시 쉬고 있는 중이다.

“그래도 나쁘진 않은 것 같아요. 관객들이 100분 동안 연주곡만 듣다 보면 아무래도 지겨워 하거든요. 아무리 클래식ㆍ어쿠스틱ㆍ일렉트릭 기타로 바꿔가며 연주해도 ‘스캔들’ OST가 나오면 박수 소리가 더 커져요. 아는 음악이니까요. 그래서 종합선물세트처럼 꾸며봤습니다.” 지난해 13년 만에 발매한 6집 기타 솔로 앨범도 ‘첫 번째 비행’으로 시작해 ‘애국가’로 끝날 정도로 다양한 트랙 리스트를 자랑한다. 그는 “제가 원래 좀 중구난방”이라며 웃었다.

이병우는 기타를 통해 살아가는 방법을 배웠다고 했다. “곡을 완성하고 테크닉을 익히기 위해 연습하다보니 인내심과 함께 이상한 집착이 생기더라고요. 한때는 기타 줄마다 다 다른 회사 제품을 사용할 정도였는데 이제는 제가 다르게 연주하면 된다는 걸 알기에 그냥 남아서 굴러다니는 걸 씁니다. 결국 마음먹기 나름인 것 같아요. 제가 언제 1위에 이름을 올려보겠어요. 지금이 가장 행복할 따름입니다.”

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