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, June 26, 2014

The Peanuts/Ayumi Ishida -- Osaka no Hito (大阪の女)

On an episode of "Kayo Concert"(歌謡コンサート)a few weeks ago, the theme for the night was Osaka. Of course, there were songs such as the raucous "Naniwa Bushi da yo Jinsei wa"(浪花節だよ人生は), but there was also this slow enka titled "Osaka no Hito" (Woman of Osaka). I had never heard of it but I enjoyed the song and was sufficiently interested in it to do a bit of research.

Well, much to my surprise, it turned out to be a single by The Peanuts(ザ・ピーナッツ). I had always known Emi and Yumi Ito (伊藤エミ・ユミ)for their snappy kayo kyoku and for their rendition of the Mothra song but never thought that they would delve into enka. According to the J-Wiki article on "Osaka no Hito", the author stated that it wasn't strictly an enka song, and yep, on a second and third listening, I think it is perhaps a bit more akin to just straight-ahead kayo pop....perhaps more on the level of the theme song of the "Tora-san" movie series. But considering their more famous hits, this September 1970 single is about as close to enka as it got for the sisters.

Now, for those like me who had never heard of this song before but have some knowledge of kanji under their belts, yep, that is indeed the kanji for "onna" (女...woman) in the title but the official pronunciation of it is "hito"(人...person)....just in case, it looked like ol' J-Canuck made a mistake up there. Around the early 70s, The Peanuts had released a " Hito" series of songs which incorporated a number of places such as Tokyo, San Francisco and even Rio. For "Osaka no Hito", the composer Taiji Nakamura(中村泰士), who would also later create a couple of huge hits for Takashi Hosokawa(細川たかし): "Kokoro Nokori" (心のこり)and my personal favourite of "Kita Sakaba"(北酒場), really wanted to incorporate a feeling of Osaka into the melody. However, Jun Hashimoto's (橋本淳)lyrics didn't do as much name-dropping of the famous Osakan landmarks which was the opposite of what a number of these geographically-based kayo kyoku did. Not sure how the natives in Osaka took that at the time of release, although I think by that time, The Peanuts were not quite as prominent as they once had been in the previous decade.

In 1978, another classic kayo kyoku veteran, Ayumi Ishida (いしだあゆみ)covered "Osaka no Hito" as her 52nd single. Her version has a bit more of a country swing feel to it although the delivery was still very relaxing just like in the original.

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