Yesterday, commenter Ranawaka Aruna referred me to a couple of his favourite kayo kyoku covered by Alfee's Konosuke Sakazaki（坂崎幸之助）at a live performance via YouTube. I recognized the latter song, "Saraba, Koibito"（さらば、恋人）by entertainer Masaaki Sakai（堺正章）right off the bat, but I initially informed Ranawaka that I hadn't ever heard of the first song.
Well, I should slap myself on the back of my head. I actually did know this song, "Hanayome" (The Bride) but just didn't recognize it in Sakazaki's version because of the different arrangement. After reading the title and the songwriters on the screen, I tracked the original version down to YouTube and as soon as I heard the honeyed tones of the female vocalist, a certain number of my memory engrams went PING!
"Hanayome", one of the representative songs of the folk period in the 1970s, was familiar but I hadn't ever found out about who actually sang it and when it did come out. Well, let me rectify that right now. The band was Norihiko Hashida and Climax（はしだのりひことクライマックス）, and for the guitarist and vocalist, Hashida, it was his 5th group of musicians that got together after serving with bands Doody Rumblers (1964), The Folk Crusaders (1965), Norihiko Hashida and Shoe Belts (1969) and Norihiko Hashida and Margarets (never released a record). "Hanayome" was the debut single for Hashida and Climax, released in January 1971.
For the Climax group, Hashida（端田宣彦）was joined by Yoji Nakajima（中嶋陽二）, Shogo Sakaniwa（坂庭省悟）and the lady with the golden vocals, Mie Fujisawa（藤沢ミエ）. The music was provided by Hashida and Sakaniwa; I really liked the brass and rolling drums at the intro, but it was Fujisawa's lovely delivery that sold the song to me. The lyrics were written by Osamu Kitagawa（北山修）who also worked with Hashida in The Folk Crusaders and also came up with his own hit with the late Kazuhiko Kato（加藤和彦）in that same year of 1971. The folk song dealt with a couple eloping to a faraway town, and although (according to J-Wiki) elopement had a pretty dark image in the past (and perhaps still does), the words in "Hanayome" made it clear that this wasn't so much an escape from a bad situation as it was a gleeful leap into something far more positive as the newlywed couple boarded that train for an amazing adventure. I'm not sure if the runaway bride and groom felt the same way after discovering the arduousness of taxes, child rearing and mortgage payments, but hey, let the kids celebrate for today!
And the listening public celebrated as well. The song hit the top spot on Oricon for 2 weeks in a row, and ended up as the 7th-ranked song for 1971 as well as a million-seller. Hashida and Climax also got that invitation to the Kohaku Utagassen when it was still being televised at the Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre near Ginza.
"Hanayome" also had me recollecting about another old kayo dealing with brides, Rumiko Koyanagi's（小柳ルミ子）classic "Seto no Hanayome"（瀬戸の花嫁）which came out in 1972. Incidentally, Hashida still had one more band up his sleeve, Norihiko Hashida and Endless before he went on a solo career.