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, June 26, 2013

Hibari Misora -- O-Matsuri Mambo (お祭りマンボ)

In Japan, there are simply 2 types of people when it comes to a summer mikoshi (portable shrine) festival: those who carry the mikoshi, and those who watch those who carry the mikoshi. I was invited some years ago by a couple of my students to join in the "fun" of carrying one since I had never done it before. I learned the hard way (which is usually the default way for me) that I should be a watcher not a carrier. Another thing I learned is that veteran mikoshi carriers don't like greenhorns who look like they're not having fun carrying them. Consider me a wiser if sore student of Japanese culture.

Hibari Misora's(美空ひばり) classic "O-Matsuri Mambo" (Festival Mambo) of 1952 was her 9th single. It's another one of those old enka songs for which I remember the melody but not the title nor the original singer. But the other night, NHK's "Kayo Concert" had its customary tribute show to the legendary Misora, and this was one of the songs featured. "O-Matsuri Mambo", written and composed by Rokuro Hara(原六朗), has nothing to do with any Latin American melodies but it does carry the energy of any festival anywhere. And in Japan, they do love their festivals. Misora sings in the raucous patter that a lot of the eager festival participants yell out in, and the song seems to go through the day (or the night) that a festival burns through, until that last verse in which Misora slows down noticeably to signal the exhausted but satisfying end to a wonderfully chaotic time....until at the very end, when she revs it up once more to let everyone know that another day of merriment is on the way.

As with many a Misora song, many artists have given their take on "O-Matsuri Mambo", including AKB 48 at the concert commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the singer's passing. No doubt, as this summer gets underway in Japan, there will probably as many performances of this song as mikoshi rumbling through the streets. I'll be watching.

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