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.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pedro & Capricious/SPEED -- Johnny e no Dengon (ジョニイへの伝言)

One of those evergreen folk songs from yesteryear, "Johnny e no Dengon" (Message For Johnny) was a tune I first heard via Mariko Takahashi's(高橋真梨子) tape "More 5th Love Affair" more than a quarter of a century ago. Actually, though, the history goes much further back to March 1973 when the song, Pedro & Capricious' 4th single, was first released. It's special for a number of reasons, one of which is that it was the very first recording by Takahashi when she became the second vocalist for the band. At the time, she was known as just Mari Takahashi(高橋まり).

"Johnny e no Dengon" is one of those poignant tunes in which the heroine asks to send her regards and reassurances to good ol' Johnny after waiting for 2 hours before she heads off elsewhere, perhaps forever, with the impression that she and Johnny had shared something closer in the past. Of course, any feeling of sadness is warmly comforted by a cheerful and gentle melody. It was created by the duo of Yu Aku and Shunichi Tokura(阿久悠・都倉俊一), the same pair who would also create hits for Momoe Yamaguchi(山口百恵) and Pink Lady.

The song managed to get as high as No. 24 on Oricon and became the 85th-ranked song on the yearly rankings of 1973, selling close to 250,000 records. And though it took a while, it also got Pedro & Capricious onto the 1974 Kohaku Utagassen.

"Johnny e no Dengon" also had its share of covers over the decades, and I managed to find an interesting one by SPEED. Their version won't be found on any of their albums. Instead the song came on "Vision Factory Compilation", a 2008 tribute album to lyricist Aku who had passed away the previous year. The arrangement has this Latin/Dance beat which invigorates this update to the classic ol' chestnut.

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