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, June 6, 2015

Frank Nagai and Kazuko Matsuo -- Kokudo Juu-Hachi Gou-sen (国道18号線)

Got together with the work colleagues yesterday for a semi-annual drink down at my old university watering hole, The Madison Ave. Pub. We did the nachos-and-alcohol thing and I went for a Maddy's that consists of whiskey, Kahlua and lots of other stuff. I held my own...something that I couldn't do back 25 years ago when I arrived in Japan to live for the first time. I still cannot even drink a college freshman under the table but I can say that I am able to survive through a night at a bar...Japan did that for me.

So, on that note, allow me to bring another Saturday night special from the wilds of Akasaka and Ginza. It's another round of Mood Kayo with the duo who is practically synonymous with the genre, Frank Nagai and Kazuko Matsuo(フランク永井・松尾和子). The pair who brought over the classy "Tokyo Nightclub" back in 1959 came together once more with another club-friendly ballad, "Kokudo Juu-Hachi Gou-sen" (National Route 18) in 1964.

The lyrics were by Tetsuo Miyagawa(宮川哲夫)who also gave the words to the haunting "Muhyou"(霧氷)for Yukio Hashi(橋幸夫)while the music was composed by Tadashi Yoshida(吉田正)who had also written the notes for the above-mentioned "Tokyo Nightclub". The above version of "Kokudo Juu-Hachi Gou-sen" is what I would expect for a Nagai/Matsuo duet: lots of hearty sax with shimmering strings and ritzy club piano while the two serenade each other over a stiff drink. The title highway probably refers to the lifeline between the might be several hours between the resort town of Karuizawa and the metropolis of Tokyo but Frank will be more than happy to get behind the wheel to see his Kazuko.

This version is probably the original considering the older-sounding arrangement with the horns. I prefer the more bluesy take at the very top of the article, but I do like this video showing the bright lights of Tokyo and Yokohama. On a teacher's salary, there was no way that I could ever darken the doorway of any of the clubs that Nagai and Matsuo may have frequented, but for me just walking downtown of either city would have satisfying enough for me.

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