February 1998: The Nagano Olympics were going full steam ahead. Meanwhile, I wasn't. Thanks to a trip down some stairs at one of my teaching assignments, I ended up taking a trip to the Iidabashi Police Hospital and finding out that my ankle was busted. So, for the next couple of weeks, I was stuck at home with a huge cast on my right foot and some crutches nearby.
It wasn't a particularly pleasant experience (ever feel blood flow past damaged nerves?), but I had my little old TV where all of the networks were proudly showing off what Japan had to offer in sports. And I actually got to see the Japanese Ski Jump Team get that Gold Medal live! That made for an excellent painkiller.
And as usual, the networks recruited various singers and bands to come up with the official station Olympic songs. A couple of years back, there was that stupendous song by Maki Ohguro（大黒摩季）, "Atsukunare"（熱くなれ） which was NHK's official tune for its coverage of the Atlanta Games. But for my fave song for the 1998 Olympics, it was the TBS choice by song-and-dance band, trf. The group had their huge heyday back around the mid-90s, but as with a lot of acts, they started doing a bit of a slow fade. However, "UNITE! THE NIGHT!" brought YU-KI, DJ KOO and the rest of the guys back onto the stage again when it was released in February 1998 as their 18th single.
While Ohguro's "Atsukunare" had this 100-m sprint beat to it, trf's "UNITE! THE NIGHT!" was more about post-Games revelry when the athletes could live it up on the dance floor after a hard-fought competition. Hearing the song heading and ending the TBS Olympic broadcasts almost everyday made residing on a futon and the couch rather bearable. But obviously most of the time, we only got the excerpts of the song, so once I could handle the crutches, I went out to buy my own copy of the single.
Written and composed by rapper/musician m.c.A.T (aka Akio Togashi。。。富樫明生), this was trf's first song without any support from Tetsuya Komuro（小室哲哉） who had shepherded them during their introduction and their peak days. Not only did I enjoy the song, but the official music video was pretty darn cool, too. Just seeing the gang dance it up as the scene scrolled past brought back memories of the glory days. Although it didn't end up getting into the Oricon yearly rankings, it did peak at No. 8 on the weeklies, and it did embed itself as one of my happy musical moments from the Olympics. I can only hope something that fun will be created for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
As for me, of course, I never got to make it up to Nagano Prefecture. But my old friend was able to bring over a banner from the Olympic site that had fallen as a nice little souvenir for my apartment.