I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Anri -- Olivia wo Kikinagara (オリビアを聴きながら)

We're going to be doing some name derivations here, so hang onto your hats.

Anri(杏里) was born Eiko Kawashima(川嶋栄子) in Yamato City, Kanagawa Prefecture(神奈川県大和市), in 1961. Like fellow singer Miki Imai(今井美樹) and the late Whitney Houston, Ms. Kawashima had initially been a model before taking the plunge into singing. She was given the name Anri at the Tokyo talent agency where she started out called Bond Kikaku (ボンド企画....Bond Planning) where the agency president, Keiji Takasugi(高杉敬二), had been thinking of some names for his baby daughter of which "Anri" was one. However, he went with another name instead, and his daughter is now a 33-year-old actress by the name of Kazuna Kawamura(川村和奈). Not sure what Ms. Kawashima did think about getting a hand-me-down from a baby.

Anri's debut song was "Olivia wo Kikinagara"(While I Listen to Olivia). It was written by singer-songwriter Ami Ozaki(尾崎亜美), who has penned songs for Mariko Takahashi(高橋真梨子) and Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子) among many other singers. Ozaki is famous for her simple romantic ballads, and amongst the ones I know, "Olivia wo Kikinagara"was the one that held the biggest mystery for me because of the title. And indeed I finally did confirm from J-Wiki that "Olivia" does refer to the Olivia Newton-John. Apparently when Ozaki was writing it, she hadn't wanted the heroine of the song to directly refer to Olivia's upbeat songs; instead, she wrote it as a good ol' fashioned hurtin' song. And the very first version does sound a lot like what ONJ would've sung early in her career when she was seen as a folk/country singer. Ironically, in the same year of Anri's inaugural release, Olivia was appearing in "Grease" and "Xanadu", and heading for a more contemporary American pop sound. Strangely enough, Anri herself would be heading in the same direction about a decade later. Not sure if the two ladies had ever met.

When "Olivia" was released in November 1978, it went no higher than No. 65 on the Oricon weeklies, so it was just a minor hit at the time. Since then, though, the song has gradually become a kayo kyoku standard that a number of singers have covered. Anri herself has done a few self-covers with different arrangements over the decades. The first version for me is definitely my favorite, and it's also on her first album, "Apricot Jam".

However every time I hear the song, there is that one English lyric that Anri sings: "Making good things better". I always get reminded of General Electric.

Now, as for the translation of those hurtin' lyrics:

I try listening to my favourite song alone
Because Olivia consoles my lonely heart
Jasmine tea is the medicine to invite sleep
I want to bring an end to this one day in my own way, this night

When I first met you, I didn't think this day would come
Making good things better
No, it's over....time is just piling up
You, that exhausted you, loved that illusion of me

I try counting the stars during a sleepless night
When I follow the threads of light, it reminds me of your face
I will never forget the cattleya (orchids) on my birthday
You were just like a kind man, but it's all over

That late night call, it was probably you
There's nothing to talk about or anything else
Making good things better
The love is gone, don't call me again
You, that exhausted you, loved that illusion of me

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