"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast..."
It's a quotation I've heard countless times over the years and yet I didn't finally find out the source behind it until just a few minutes ago. Apparently, it was made by English playwright and poet William Congreve for the 1697 play, "The Mourning Bridge".
Scoot ahead almost 300 years and go half a world away. I wonder if Hideaki Tokunaga（徳永英明）had been thinking about this quote when he wrote and composed "Kowarekake no Radio" (Broken-Down Radio) as his 10th single for release in July 1990. His lyrics relate his longing to hear the sounds of his old black radio again, the first one that he had ever bought, just to get away from the troubles of the day. The music also has that longing for a more innocent time while Tokunaga's angelic vocals sound even more plaintive than usual because of the lyrical content.
"Kowarekake no Radio" is even more poignant now than when it was first released since I'm not sure whether people listen to radio for actual music anymore. I think it's more for listening to talk or shock or news while most folks can create their own personal radio station through downloads. I was definitely a heavy-duty radio listener back in the 1980s due to my own awakening to music on both sides of the Pacific. I listened to "Sounds of Japan" and dance music remixes on Saturday nights, while going through the dial on weekdays to discover any appealing melodies as well as the Top 10 tunes. My silver SONY was a good companion during the all-nighters in high school and university.
Anyways, getting back to the point at hand..."Kowarekake no Radio" peaked at No. 5 on Oricon and became the 23rd-ranked song for 1990. Although Tokunaga hadn't been invited to the Kohaku that year, he was brought on twice in 2006 and 2009 to sing that particular ballad. It was also used as the main theme for a TBS drama called "Tokai no Mori"（都会の森...Forest of the City）.
The trigger for me to talk about one of Tokunaga's most famous hits is that I was watching NHK's morning variety show "Asaichi"（あさイチ...Morning Market）and found out that the broadcaster is celebrating 90 years. Of course, its origins are from radio. Sometimes, I wish "Sounds of Japan" could come back although I know that Internet radio has plenty of J-Pop out there already. There's something about an actual human behind the selection of the tracks that makes things a lot more personable.