Love and heartbreak often go hand-in-hand, and for the broken-hearted, Didi Kempot offered a measure of solace, pouring sentiments and into his songs, without fail:
Wis sakmestine ati iki nelangsa
Wong sing tak tresnani mblenjani janji
Apa ora eling nalika semana?
Kebak kembang wangi jeroning dada
It was my faith that I am broken-hearted
The one I love breaks her words
Don't you remember that time?
When the flowers blossomed within our hearts
"I was performing one of my Javanese songs, titled Cidro, which was not very popular here in Indonesia. But, there was a Surinamese tourist who lived in the Netherlands (that watched me). Then, the song was played at a radio station in Amsterdam, and people just loved it," Didi Kempot said in mid-March this year.
The song Cidro, which means sorrow or being miserable, especially in love, written in 1989, and part of Didi Kempot's first album, became a hit. It related a story inspired by his failed love affair.
He started out performing as a street musician and left Solo, a city in Central Java, for Jakarta at the end of the 1980s. Later, in the 1990s, Didi Kempot gained early success in his musical career.
Suriname, a region located in South America whose people have a close relation to the Javanese, and the Netherlands are two countries where Didi Kempot’s songs on heartbreak earned him an international following.
Earlier this week, on the morning of May 5, 2020, the 53-year-old musician, whose full name is Dionisius Prasetyo, breathed his last breath in his hometown, Solo.
There has been an outpouring of grief and condolences after the sudden news of his death amid the popularity he regained among today's generation, who call themselves Sad Boys and Sad Girls. Many fans have expressed shock at his demise.
For decades, the around 700 songs that he penned, which mostly evoke poignant feelings of heartbreak in Javanese lyrics, have been enjoyed by the people of his generation. Yet, over at least the past two years, his works successfully touched a chord with the younger generation as well.
Didi Kempot managed to connect with the millennials and generation Z, who crowned him as ‘The Godfather of Broken Heart’ and gave him his new name — Lord Didi.
He did not not change a thing about himself; it was his young fans who shifted their musical taste, tuning into the heartfelt, genuine feelings of his songs on heartbreak.
Didi Kempot performed his songs in campursari (a crossover of Javanese and contemporary music, such as dangdut), while wearing a Javanese traditional suit of beskap and batik cloth, as well as a blankon (headdress).
At some of his most recent concerts, the Sobat Ambyar — the official name of Didi Kempot's Sad Boys and Sad Girls— could always express their wildest sorrow at being disappointed in love. Almost everyone filmed Didi Kempot’s performances using their smartphones, and many cried while singing along with him.
"It seems that such of this broken-hearted music genre lasts for a long time, all across the globe. That is why (I write sad songs)," Didi Kempot revealed in September last year, prior to the Konangan Concert.
"I've performed in Europe as well as the US. Evidently, any song can be well accepted by the people, if we work on it thoroughly," Didi Kempot stated when asked about why he continued to write lyrics in Javanese.
Besides melancholy lyrics, he offered fans advice on responding to and managing heartbreak, which is something no one wants to go through. He asked them not to drag themselves into endless sorrow in the wake of such an event.
"You may not necessarily take the sadness in too deep, you don't have to think about it for such a long time, as you can take that thing positively," he said during the Billboard Indonesia Music Awards 2020 last February.
He offered more tips for a broken heart: "If you got the artist in yourself, just create some paintings or make music. If you are good in cooking, just try new recipes.”
Later, at the same award function, he was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award.
That award, among the many others that he received, is proof that Didi Kempot deserves to always be remembered, even though he is not with us anymore. His songs will truly last forever.
"Thank you, Sobat Ambyar. This is for all the traditional artists all across Indonesia, since we have various cultures here," he said in his acceptance speech for the award.
In his songs, Didi Kempot rose above the heartbreak, or its associated grief. He poured his feeling into his music, then merged into the sad music itself, and, at once, became the reliever of sorrow.
Through his prominent works, he encouraged people to celebrate feeling hurt:
"If you are broken-hearted, you rather dance!”
Related news: Didi Kempot, melancholic tunes, and catharsis for broken hearts
Related news: Jokowi, Prabowo fondly recollect memories of Didi Kempot
Related News: Didi Kempot, 'The Godfather of Broken Heart', and why he matters