The Cranberries' song Zombie was one of the biggest and most powerful songs of the 90s. Now a fabulous cover by Vietnamese guitarist Thanh Dien Guitar and singer Diem Huong is bringing it to a new generation.
Although very gifted players make it look effortless, the guitar is not an easy instrument to learn and quite difficult to completely master. Imagine how much more difficult it must be if you can't see the instrument at all. You have to learn the position of the strings and frets by heart as well as how to position your hands.
The idea seems impossible, but blind Vietnamese guitarist Thanh Dien Guitar has proved it isn't. His full name is Le Thanh Dien, and he was born on the 4th of May, 1967. Unlike some people who lose their sight gradually, he was born blind. There is no information about his birth parents, but he was adopted when he was young.
He started learning to play the guitar when he was nine years old, but it took him fifteen years to fully master it. He was motivated, though, as he found he truly loved the guitar. He even turned it into a profession; Le Thanh Dien played at parties and weddings.
He found he really enjoyed playing as an accompaniment to others, backing them up and blending his skill with theirs. It was this love that led to the creation of his YouTube channel. On each upload, he accompanies another talented musician to make music magic.
He found a perfect partner in Diem Huong. Although her voice is very different to Cranberries lead singer Dolores O' Riordan's, it still seems to fit the song beautifully. She closes her eyes and seems to be feeling the music throughout her entire body, and she almost seems to conduct the song with her hands. She has a beautiful voice, and her control is exquisite.
Sometimes when you watch a singer perform, you feel apprehension as they reach difficult parts of the song. Will they be able to hit the high notes or hold a note long enough. There is no such worry here. Diem Huong is clearly relaxed and happy throughout and is so talented you can simply sit back and enjoy it.
Throughout the whole song, a perfect accompanist throughout, Le Thanh Dien plays his guitar. He is so talented and injects such complexity into his playing that if you were listening rather than watching, you'd swear there was more than one guitar playing. It sounds like there is bass and regular guitar and even someone playing harmonies. The ability to make an instrument sing is what elevates a good guitarist to a great one.
It's clear that the guitar means a lot to Le Thanh Dien. He explains: "God took my eyes, and gave me much better ears to hear. I can hear much clearer than normal people. But at the beginning, it was also very arduous, my hands were hurt, and the guitar sound was not good. I was extremely frustrated, sometimes I wanted to give up. But then I had nothing, only the guitar as a companion. So finally I picked up the guitar again."
It's lucky for the world and all the musicians that Le Thanh Dien worked with that he did. If you want to watch more from Le Thanh Dien then you can subscribe to his YouTube channel.