Thursday, January 22, 2015
Hibari Misora -- Yuukyou Kaidou （遊侠街道）
Somewhat along the lines of David Bowie, I've seen the late Hibari Misora（美空ひばり）in many forms: as the stoic iron lady in traditional Japanese dress, the tiny girl in the tuxedo and the genki jazzy entertainer in that sparkling gown among others.
When it comes to her March 1964 single, "Yuukyou Kaidou" (Road of Chivalrous People), it's that first persona that I envisage. Just like the single that came out some months later that year, "Yawara"（柔）, this particular song had Misora in strut-worthy proud mode as she sang about those samurai who fought the good fight while traveling down that lonely road which more than likely ended at their respective graves. Master enka composer and guitarist Masao Koga（古賀政男）was behind the quiet but grand music that melodically introduced the warriors while lyricist and scholar of French culture, Yaso Saijo（西條八十）, wrote what seemed to be the code of an austere life with the Sword of Damocles always hanging over those who practice it.
Last but not least, Misora sang it the same way that Koga had composed "Yuukyou Kaidou": quietly grand. There was nothing histrionic about her pride for the warriors. It was simply a straight tale of respect. The reason I wrote about it today was that I was able to find the 45" of it and played it on the stereo. The link above will give a very clear recording as opposed to my slightly scratchy copy, but I think the static adds that extra layer of nostalgia to it, although the needle on the playing arm may not be too happy.
The above is a karaoke video showing about what the lyrics wanted to illustrate about the feelings in the song.