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.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Emy Jackson/Maria Anzai/Sandii & The Sunsetz/Minako Tanaka/Melon Kinenbi -- Crying in a Storm/Namida no Taiyo (涙の太陽)

Golly, I think the above list of names is probably the largest I've typed down for an article since I started the blog. It's kinda like the roll call at the Oscars. Ah, a bit of hyperbole there but I guess with all of the times that this song has been covered since the 1960s, I can't be surprised that as soon as I heard it again on music.163, the recognition factor kicked into high gear.

"Namida no Taiyo" directly translates as "Sun of Tears" but I guess that was too abstract for the studio execs so instead its English title is officially "Crying in a Storm". Considering the images of go-go boots and all of those 60s dance moves like The Shimmy or The Swim that have popped up in my noggin whenever I hear it, I had initially thought that it was Force of Nature Linda Yamamoto(山本リンダ)who was behind the song. Actually, though, it was another half-Japanese lady who started the ball rolling.

Emy Jackson was born in Sussex, England but was working in Japan as an assistant for a radio program at Radio Kanto in 1964 when she met prolific lyricist Reiko Yukawa(湯川れい子). Obviously the meeting went very well since Jackson found herself behind a mike within the year recording "Crying in a Storm" as her debut. Yukawa was indeed responsible for the lyrics and in keeping within the entirely English lyrics and non-Japanese taste of the song, she allowed herself to use the pseudonym of R.H. Rivers (Reiko Hot Rivers). Yasutoshi Nakajima(中島安敏)came up with the wild and groovy music.

There was no Oricon chart back then, but according to J-Wiki, once the single was released in April 1965, it placed at No. 4 on the "Music Life" magazine foreign record rankings. And it managed to sell about 700,000 records, so obviously by any reckoning, this was a huge hit.

Just a month later, a singer by the name of Michi Aoyama(青山ミチ)covered it in Japanese with the lyrics also provided by Yukawa. I couldn't find any sign of that version but the above video has the next listed singer on the J-Wiki article to cover it, Maria Anzai(安西マリア). The Tokyo-born Anzai was working at a Ginza nightclub when she was scouted, and it turned out her debut as a singer was "Namida no Taiyo".  Her cover peaked at No. 16 on Oricon and sold almost 130,000 records after its release in July 1973. She also won the Best Newcomer Prize at the Japan Record Awards that year.

Many years later, eclectic band Sandii & The Sunsetz did their own version of "Crying in a Storm" as a single released in June 1989. It went as high as No. 84 on Oricon.

Out of all of the different versions of "Namida no Taiyo", the first one that I ever listened to (or at least remembering listening to) was this one by singer-actress Minako Tanaka(田中美奈子). There must be something about good fortune attached to the song since as was the case with Jackson and Anzai, this particular song was also the debut tune for Tanaka. It was released just a month after Sandii's version and peaked at No. 18. Might I say that she looks rather turn-of-the-decade fetching? :)

Finally, Melon Kinenbi(メロン記念日)released the most successful version of "Namida no Taiyo" according to the Oricon rankings. The Hello Project group's 12th single came out in June 2004 and peaked at No. 15.

Of course, other singers have covered "Namida no Taiyo" but J-Wiki highlighted the above folks so I'm assuming they are the acts that had the most success with it. All of this immortalization of this one song came from a fortuitous meeting at a radio station.

I've gotta say that I'll have to cover Reiko Yukawa under the "Creator" tag sometime soon. I had no idea that she was behind the lyrics for this kayo chestnut, and she has gone on to write songs for a number of pop artists such as Akiko Kobayashi(小林明子), Junichi Inagaki(稲垣潤一)and Ann Lewis(アン・ルイス)into the 80s.

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