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, September 16, 2014

Michiya Mihashi/Aya Shimazu -- Aishu Ressha (哀愁列車)

People back in the 50's must really have a thing for trains. Here we have another train song, this time by Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也), the last of the trio of reputable Enka singers I've been covering - the other two being Hideo Murata (村田英雄) and Hachiro Kasuga (春日八郎)Murata had this aura of intimidation, Kasuga had this little smile with dimples and Mihashi had this stoic and sometimes even blank look on his face.

Anyway, 'Aishu Ressha' or 'The melancholy train' was Michi's 13th single and was released on June 1956. And since its a melancholic song, he sings the first few words of the song like he is crying out in anguish.

Its lyrics were done by lyricist Hiroshi Yokoi (横井 弘), who also contributed the lyrics to quite a number of Michi's songs. And the music was composed by... something... Kamata (鎌多俊与). I think it did pretty alright, there wasn't any write up on this song either. All I know is that it was a million seller and landed him his first Kohaku appearance in 1956, and he sang it again at the 25th Kohaku in 1974 after 11 years of respite.

Mihashi, a Hokkaido native, actually kinda began his singing career in 1942 at the age of 12 after winning a Minyo (folk music) singing competition a year before. But he officially debuted in 1955 as an Enka singer with 'Onna Sendo Uta' (おんな船頭唄) after moving to Tokyo to find work, and working at an onsen as a boiler engineer in Yokohama while teaching Minyo. Oh yeah, and Takashi Hosokawa (細川たかし) was a student of his.

Aya Shimazu (島津亜矢), another Enka singer whom I always see doing covers of Saburo Kitajima's (北島三郎) songs  also did her own rendition of 'Aishu Resha'. She conveys the anguish well, too.


1 comment:

  1. Hi, Noelle.

    Nice choice here. I think trains have had a vital role in Japanese culture...popular or historical. There is a closer connection between the people and the train networks that bind the country together even more than on the geographic scale considering the size of Japan. The 50s were a time when the rebuilding of the nation was top priority so a lot of people moved from the towns and villages to the big cities to find jobs once they graduated from high school. That tearful departure on the countryside platform, therefore, had a much heavier weight. For the sentimental Japanese, those stations were pretty central hubs in more ways than one.

    You can also give a listen to the classic "Ahh, Ueno Eki" by Hachiro Izawa.


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