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.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Off Course -- Kimi Sumu Machi e (君住む街へ)

The first time I heard Off Course's "Kimi Sumu Machi e" (To The Town Where You Live) on an audiotape, I almost thought that Whitney Houston was gonna suddenly jump in considering the intro. Then I heard the mellow tones from Kazumasa Oda(小田和正), the song's creator. But then it was evident that this was going to be a group effort with bassist Hitoshi Shimizu(清水仁) and guitarist Kazuhiko Matsuo(松尾一彦)also joining Oda in the vocals.

Even listening to this song of hope and reassurance for the first time, I got the distinct impression that there was also a certain finality. The old Off Course tropes were in there: the soft-but-growing-in-power Oda vocal progression and the swelling of the music to that climactic refrain, but when I listened to it, I just felt "These guys are wrapping up for good". I wasn't far off my hunch. "Kimi Sumu Machi e", their 34th single released in January 1988, was actually the band's third-last single, with the final song in the Off Course oeuvre getting out later that year in October. But I think for all intents and purposes, the Sayonara (in-house pun intended) was put into this song. It was rather ironic then that it was placed in their final album titled "Still A Long Way To Go".

I haven't really seen an Off Course music video....there are plenty of videos of them in concert, but nothing like the mini-dramas or comedies that I've seen with other artists. And the only video I've ever seen of Kazumasa Oda as a solo artist was for "Oh Yeah", and that was only once. Good luck trying to find that one! So it was nice to see the band get together to make this video at a Sapporo high school; there's nothing like scenes of high school students in their uniforms goofing about and waiting for that train home to get the folks all nostalgic. And in fact, speaking about nostalgia, Off Course used the song before its official release as the concert closer during their tour the previous year. I could imagine dozens of pairs of wet eyes by the time the song was done.

"Kimi Sumu Machi e" would be the band's final Top 20 hit, peaking at No. 11. Oda would do a self-cover of the song for his 2001 "Looking Back 2" album.

Good ol' Toronto!

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