May 1st: in Canada, it's just a regular day (although the debut of "Avengers: Age of Ultron" today pretty much launched blockbuster season with warp drive). In Japan, it's the early days of Golden Week, one of the major holiday seasons of the year over there. A lot of folks are heading out on vacation on the various planes and trains for those precious few days of leisure, but I do wonder if everybody needs a second vacation after going through the hell of the crowds during exodus and return. As for me, I always enjoyed my relative stay-cation; never went outside of Tokyo or Chiba in all of my Golden Weeks. Plenty of things to do and plenty of friends to see in my area.
So, to start off my contribution to "Kayo Kyoku Plus" for May, I've gone with the appropriate "Vacation". And yep, for those old-time music fans, it is indeed the cover of the Connie Francis classic from 1962 (and not the Go-Gos tune from the 80s). In my household, I heard the Japanese version as often as I did the original, but was never quite sure who sang the cover. In any case, there was an audiotape that my parents' played that had one of those brassy young ladies from the 60s belting out the tune.
I found out that it was both Mieko Hirota（弘田三枝子）and Yukari Ito（伊東ゆかり）who released their own cover versions in the same year that the original had come out. Ito was the one that I had first associated with "Vacation" since I knew that she often did covers of the old American tunes throughout her career. However, Hirota is the one who probably had the most successful version since it sold about 200,000 records after its release in November 1962. For Hirota, it was her second cover song after her take on Helen Shapiro's "Don't Treat Me Like A Child" which seems to be her debut single from 1961.
Here is Ito's version above. I'm actually not quite that surprised if it is indeed the case that Hirota's version outsold Ito's cover. There's quite a bit more oomph in the former's take on the Francis classic. Incidentally, Francis along with Gary Weston and Hank Hunter created the song which would be the singer's final Top 10 hit, but the Japanese lyrics were handled by the late Kenji Sazanami（漣健児）which was a pen name for Shoichi Kusano（草野昌一）.
After hearing the Japanese version on audiotape all those years, my family was able to catch the performance on videotape after purchasing our first VCR machine in the early 80s. And often was the case on those myriad predecessors of "Kayo Concert" that there would be a rendition of "Vacation". Above is another former 60s teenybopper singer, Mie Nakao（中尾ミエ）, taking care of things with a whole bunch of friends. In fact, I also assumed that Nakao had also been the original Japanese singer of the song, but I don't think she ever released her version of it. It certainly seems that she has adopted it in her arsenal on TV, though.
Of course, I gotta leave you with original by Connie Francis herself. We're not quite in vacation mode here in Toronto, but the weather this weekend will more than make up for it...especially after a long hard winter.