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.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mai Yamane -- Foolin' Myself

Something that I've often thought is that certain old Western pop songs and their singers never die, they just head over to Japan for immortality. The Carpenters and their repertoire are arguably the biggest example, and I think somewhere in the deep forests of the Japanese Alps, Elvis may be eking out a happier existence. Another example is Eric Carmen and his 1975 hit, "All By Myself", the heart-on-his-sleeve ballad. I used to hear this all the time on AM radio, and it's found its Valhalla in Japan by having been used in at least a couple of commercials over there. The song was based on a Rachmaninoff concerto; a number of artists have based their hits on classical music, something that has also been cherished in Japan when it comes to their favourite hits, kayo kyoku or Western pop.

Another Carmen creation that perhaps wasn't as big a hit as "All By Myself" was his 1980 "Foolin' Myself", another power ballad which also seems to have a classical base of sorts in its melody. Pretty soon after its release, a Japanese cover by husky-voiced Mai Yamane(山根麻衣)came out in March of that year. I first came across the song in Volume 2 of the "Good Times Diva" series for which I bought a number of discs; as I probably mentioned in the article for that series, I've appreciated the CDs since they've introduced a number of artists that I had never heard of before. Mai Yamane, a native of Shimane Prefecture, is one of those singers. She also pops up in "Japanese City Pop". If it weren't for those two sources, I would never have discovered her, although for anime fans, she's probably known for her work in shows such as "Cowboy Be-Bop" and "Macross Plus".

That resonant voice of hers sold me on the Japanese cover of "Foolin' Myself". With Japanese lyrics by Kazuko Kobayashi(小林和子), Yamane released this as her 3rd single. She has that nice balance of tough and tender in her vocals when she sings it, and of course, that epic melody makes the song stand out. Originally, the song also was a track on Yamane's debut album, "Tasogare"たそがれ....Twilight)which came out the same year.

I've heard a few more of her tunes via YouTube, and I'm starting to like her material. If the album hasn't gone out of print, I would love to get my own copy. Mind you, I actually looked for any album by her a couple of years ago when I did my periodic visit to that old CD shop, Tacto in Jimbocho. There was one which was a BEST compilation.....cost 7800 yen! A little rich for my blood.

And here is the original Eric Carmen version of "Foolin' Myself".

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