Sunday, September 28, 2014
Hideki Saijo -- Gyarandu （ギャランドゥ）
One of the mysteries that had been blowing through the windmills of my mind (along with the regular air flow) for decades was finally solved (I think) tonight. At the 1983 Kohaku Utagassen, tall and lanky Hideki Saijo（西城秀樹）made another appearance at the top of the order and his weapon of choice that year was the skippy "Gyarandu", his 44th single from February 1983.
Now, usually I would have already written the translation for the title in brackets immediately following it. However, the title was the mystery. What in the world was gyarandu? And why was he twisting to it on the NHK stage on December 31st along with the other members of the White team? As one US commercial catchphrase put it so long ago, "Enquiring minds want to know".
As I've said a number of times through other articles on "Kayo Kyoku Plus", I was never much of a lyrics man so I hadn't investigated too deeply into the words (and music) by Yoshinori Monta（もんたよしのり）, the man who hit paydirt a few years previously with "Dancing All Night" via Monta & Brothers. But I did finally look into them tonight thanks to the good folks at Utamap, and it was about Hideki spouting off his desperate desire to meet that tantalizing woman even if for just one night. He declares "gyarandu" regularly throughout the song but I wasn't really any closer to deducing the meaning.
Mind you, in the last several years, I'd heard that "gyarandu" referred to that descending tuft of hair starting from a guy's belly button all the way down to his nether....world. Well, I guess I could imagine Mr. YMCA singing about something a bit more lascivious as he went further into his career as a musical sex symbol. Still, I was wondering about the derivation of the word. It was in katakana so I assumed it was an example of gairaigo....a foreign loan word, but from which language?
I delved a bit deeper and perhaps finally found an answer. According to Monta himself, the title "Gyarandu" was just a combination of three English words (gal and do) slammed together nonsensically. Therefore, it was all about the girl in the first place. Apparently, all that stuff about the body hair may have come all the way from The Queen of New Music, Yumi Matsutoya（松任谷由美）, during a radio show in which she couldn't come to describe Saijo's own bushy tuft, so she ad-libbed it "gyarandu". Yuming's new definition had just as apparently made it onto one of the Internet dictionaries I use for my work. Now whether the story of Matsutoya's moniker is true or not may still be up in the air but I will accept Monta's side of the story.
But getting back to the song itself, the original 1983 version has that typically 80s urban contemporary sound with the electric guitar and what I think is the ubiquitous EVE as the backup team. "Gyarandu" didn't break into the Top 10, only getting as high as No. 14 (and scoring No. 94 for the annual rankings), but it did earn Saijo a Gold Prize at the Japan Record Awards and of course, there was the invitation to the Kohaku (could only imagine how the audience thought about the veteran singer and his tuft while he was singing, if the Yuming gag did get around Japan). The song also got onto his 16th album, "It's You" which came out in July 1983.
The above video is an updated version but not sure when and where it came out. But I think that particular mystery can be solved a whole lot faster than the whole mythos about "gyarandu".