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, March 14, 2015

Eikichi Yazawa -- Somebody's Night

Years ago, as I was reading one of the many weekly magazines that showed up on the shelf in my neighbourhood tonkatsu restaurant under Minami-Gyotoku Station in Ichikawa City, I saw a yonkoma (4-panel) comic strip depicting rocker Eikichi Yazawa(矢沢永吉). In the first panel, he was just standing perfectly still behind a microphone in that white suit which seemed to almost drown him. Then, in the second panel, he was starting to shiver a bit in some discomfort as he stayed frozen while some fellow walked behind him. In the third panel, the fellow immediately knew how to resolve the singer's dilemma by putting a scarf behind his neck and over his shoulders. Finally, in the last panel, Yazawa was back emoting and singing while the fellow walked away...satisfied at his good deed for the day.

The take-home here is that one of the coolest singers in Japan has that one legendary image. Elvis had the curled lip and pelvis while Mick Jagger has that distinctive strut and swagger. Yazawa throttles mike stands and has that scarf. And he's got that cool charisma whenever he shows up on the telly. I'm not sure whether the hosts and the other guests are charmed or terrified by him.

In any case, I wanted to feature the one song that I know him best for, and that would be "Somebody's Night". In fact, I associate Yazawa's 25th single so much with the man himself that whenever those two words pop out in any mind or in conversation...they always echo as an excerpt from that song. The official music video has all those beautiful bodies in black surrounding Yazawa and strutting away with attitude. Smoldering is what I call it and I just get images of James Brown when I see the rocker sweating away.

As much as it's great to see the guy rock in performance, though, I like the original recording of "Somebody's Night". The music was by Yazawa and Masao Urino(売野雅勇)took care of the lyrics behind the likely dangerous entry into a steamy affair, one with perhaps the potential for a lot of guilt afterwards and maybe worse. I'm thinking of one scene with Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin in "Sea of Love" here.

Released in April 1989, the song peaked at No. 2 and became the 65th-ranked song of the year. It also was on his 17th album, "Jouji"(情事...Affair)which came out in June of the same year. The one surprising thing about the Hiroshima-born singer-songwriter is how long he's been around. His career started in 1972 when he started up the rockabilly band Carol and his debut single as a solo artist was "I Love You, OK" in September 1975.

I completely forgot that Yazawa used to be the pitchman for Suntory's brand of BOSS canned coffee for years (I became so accustomed to craggy Tommy Lee Jones as the face of the product in recent times). Contrary to his cool self on stage and TV, he was portrayed as the bumbling salaryman in all sorts of unpleasant situations while muttering "Maitta na..." (Not my day...).

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