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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, February 18, 2014

Rumiko Koyanagi -- Midare Gami (みだれ髪)



Another song that I haven't heard in years, and I didn't know that the vocals belonged to veteran songbird Rumiko Koyanagi(小柳ルミ子). My images of her involve the innocent young woman of the early 70s singing gentle ballads like "Kimi no Furusato"(君の故郷) and the extroverted playgirl from the 80s onwards performing "Ohisashiburi ne"(お久しぶりね).

I heard her 35th single, "Midare Gami" (Dishevelled Hair) as an entry whose title I missed on one of the "Sounds of Japan" radio shows. It was released in May 1982, perhaps a year before her big hit of "Ohisashiburi ne" was released. The title and the lyrics by Makoto Kitajo(喜多条忠) may be paying tribute to the series of short poems, tanka, by Akiko Yosano in 1901, describing a woman whose passions for love wouldn't be restrained by the social conventions of the day and would almost destroy her. The words by Kitajo tell about her during this darker later time as she pines for real love. I've seen this image portrayed a number of times in the various historical dramas via female characters with hair and fashion that weren't perfectly set with the leery, sidelong stares....pretty much a red flag that symbolized "Approach with extreme caution".

Koyanagi's "Midare Gami" isn't the same song as Hibari Misora's(美空ひばり) song of the same title. The melody for the Koyanagi single was made by Masaaki Hirao(平尾昌晃), and slowly slips through with the help of a sultry saxophone which seems to represent the now-despairing woman as she walks on the streets in a disillusioned daze. It's definitely a different take by Koyanagi when I think about those two other images of her that I mentioned at the top.

The song itself didn't do all that well on the charts, peaking at No. 100 on Oricon. However, I think it still has quite a bit of atmosphere to it.

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