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.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Off-Course -- Gunshu no Naka de (群衆の中で)

(first track)

One of my Off Course(オフコース) BEST albums took the tack of having the songs go back in reverse order of time, so the very last track happened to be the band's very first single, "Gunshu no Naka de" (Loneliness Along The Crowd). Up to that point, I had been listening to Off Course for some years and so I was quite familiar with their sound.

Listening to "Gunshu no Naka de" for the first time was interesting to me in that it wasn't Kazumasa Oda(小田和正)as the main vocal but Yasuhiro Suzuki(鈴木康博), and neither of them had any hand in the writing and composing of it. Instead, it was Michio Yamagami(山上路夫) providing the lyrics and Betty Dean with the music. And at the time, the band was known as "The Off-Course". This debut single may not have had the distinct Off Course sound to it, but it still had a sad but lovely lilt and the lyrics told of how lonely life could be in the city, especially one as big as Tokyo. In a way, I feel that it also had a bit of Simon & Garfunkel flavouring along the lines of "Scarborough Fair".

The single was released in April 1970 after the song had been first performed at the November 1969 3rd Annual Yamaha Light Song Contest at the Tokyo Kosei Nenkin Hall in Shinjuku. At the time, the members of The Off-Course (Oda, Suzuki and Michio Jinushi) had been thinking about wrapping things up for good once the contest was over, but with a 2nd-place finish in the Folk category just behind Akai Tori(赤い鳥), they decided to keep things going for at least a little while longer. Guitarist Jinushi(地主道夫), who had been with the band since high school, left The Off-Course in 1971 to later become an acclaimed architect. Of course, The Off-Course would eventually get their own fame....minus a definite article.

The above video is Yasuhiro Suzuki's cover of "Gunshu no Naka de" at a 2008 concert.

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