Probably out of all of the Harumi Miyako（都はるみ）songs that I've known and heard, the one that has stayed in my consciousness all these years has been "Suki ni Natta Hito" (The One I Fell In Love With). But it's not particularly because I fell in love with it through one of my Dad's old records or saw it performed all the time on shows like NHK's "Kayo Concert". In fact, it was because one of Miyako's biggest hits was used as a musical running gag on a Fuji-TV Monday night comedy-variety program, "Shimura Ken no Daijoubuda"（志村けんのだいじょぶだ...Ken Shimura's Everything's Alright）which ran from 1987 to 1993 (yep, before "HEY HEY HEY Music Champ"). It was my must-see TV at the beginning of the week during my Gunma days.
As the video above will show, there was some sketch in which Ken and the cast were enacting some "serious" historical drama or a romantic scene when suddenly the familiar notes from "Suki ni Natta Hito" will be played and then everybody rushes out onto the stage to do a festival dance to it.
It was a song that I had been looking forward to do an article on, but I had completely forgotten the title and only knew the first few words of "Sayonara, sayonara....". Fortunately, though, on tonight's episode of "Kayo Concert", Miyako appeared to sing a slightly more amped-up version (complete with a Miyako kick) and I could finally get that title.
As for Miyako's masterpiece, "Suki ni Natta Hito" was released as her 37th single in September 1968. With lyrics by Choei Shiratori (白鳥朝詠...not sure if I got that first name correct) and music by Shosuke Ichikawa（市川昭介）, the song reflects that ability in kayo kyoku creators to pair sad/bittersweet words with some pretty darn happy melodies. Miyako is actually singing about saying those farewells to her beloved stating that although they'll always have Paris (paraphrasing here, of course), she'll never be his wife. It's probably the most cheerful song of heartbreak I've heard.
Although the song only got as high as No. 24 on the just-born Oricon rankings, it sold around 200,000 records...a hit by any reckoning. Because of it, Miyako was invited onto the 1968 Kohaku Utagassen to perform it, and 28 years later, she would sing "Suki ni Natta Hito" once more on the 1996 Kohaku with a more rock arrangement.
Now, in between those two performances on the famous special, there was the time when Miyako had decided to retire from show business in 1984. Of course, for someone as famous and beloved as her, her declaration was not a small deal. I remember that 1984 Kohaku Utagassen which was her supposed final curtain ever on TV, and for the first time ever in the history of the show, Miyako gave an encore performance consisting of "Suki ni Natta Hito" at the very end, close to midnight. She couldn't finish the song since she was practically bawling and finally she crumpled into a sobbing heap on the stage surrounded by the hosts and fellow singers. For all that drama, though, she decided to come back in 1987 and has stayed ever since. The above YouTube link is actually of one of her final performances the day before that Kohaku at Shinjuku Koma Hall. Plenty of emotion there, too.
Still for all the history, the song will always remind me of "Daijoubuda".