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.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Yujiro Ishihara -- Kita no Tabibito (北の旅人)

I think one of the reasons that I've enjoyed Yujiro Ishihara's(石原裕次郎)Mood Kayo renditions is that they're very comforting to me....almost on a lullaby level. The Big Man's voice had that gravitas but not quite the gravel of some of those other enka singers. You might say that his vocals could be compared to that glass of fine aged brandy; he was just made for listening to in a Ginza or Akasaka bar.

Ishihara's 2nd-last (and his first posthumous) single is "Kita no Tabibito" (North Traveler), released in August 1987, less than a month following his untimely passing from liver cancer. Considering the title and the sound of the song, perhaps it should've been released in the fall or even the winter. The smooth-as-silk strings, the Latin guitar and his voice are all fine attractors for an izakaya regular to come in from the cold...just like a good steaming bowl of oden.

Author/lyricist Yoko Yamaguchi(山口洋子)who passed away earlier this year was responsible for the lyrics of loss and longing in the north country. She also wrote Hiroshi Itsuki's(五木ひろし)breakthrough hit, "Yokohama Tasogare"(よこはま・たそがれ)and my favourite Ishihara tune, "Brandy Glass". Tetsuya Gen(弦哲也)composed the calming melody. The prolific composer also came up with other songs for many other enka singers (including Ishihara), such as the powerful "Amagi Goe"(天城越え)for Sayuri Ishikawa(石川さゆり)about a year previously.

"Kita no Tabibito", not surprisingly, went all the way to the top of the charts and became the 30th-ranked single of the year, selling nearly 220,000 copies. It also earned a special prize at the Japan Record Awards for 1987.

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