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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ichiro Araki -- Kimi ni Sasageru Horonigai Blues (君に捧げるほろ苦いブルース)

Just a couple of nights ago, commenter Mr.Fathat and I were having a chat when he mentioned one of his favourite Japanese songs, "Kimi ni Sasageru Horonigai Blues" (Some Bittersweet Blues For You). I had never heard of this song or the singer/composer/lyricist Ichiro Araki(荒木一郎), so I was already quite intrigued. What further amped up the stakes was the above still for the YouTube video with Araki in his 70s hair dressed in formal Japanese attire in a sepia-tinged scene that looked like it was out of early 20th-century Japan (Meiji or Taisho Eras?); and the picture was surrounded by what looked like a newspaper page out of the Cold War.

I took a liking to the song almost immediately since it had a jaunty beat, and the melody fell into that interesting melange of Western and Japanese styles brought together as New Music that had its heyday in the 1970s. It was rather like that return of early jazz brought through American pop music from that decade that I used to hear on the radio as a kid. When I heard "Kimi ni Sasageru Horonigai Blues", I got somewhat reminded of Keiko Maruyama's(丸山圭子)album "Tasogare Memory"(黄昏めもりい)from 1976 which had tracks with that similar melodic feel.

Araki's lyrics are indeed bittersweet but it was rather interesting when I looked up the term horonigai on, and along with "bittersweet", it also produced the phrase "something that has a strong taste that adults favor". Perhaps it's this latter definition that would fit the words here. Araki is singing a tribute to a former love who may have gone on to bigger and better things, but although there is some sadness, there is also simultaneously a feeling that he's out of the woods of letdown and that he has also moved on. In fact, in accordance with that second definition for horonigai, I think he may actually have embraced that pain as a good lesson in life. He certainly likes that specific term as he compares it to the taste of freshly-brewed coffee and the sound of someone playing an intro to a serenade to no one in particular.

Interestingly enough, I found this video of composer/rock singer Ryudo Uzaki(宇崎竜童)and veteran singer-songwriter Ami Ozaki(尾崎亜美)performing a cover of Araki's song.

Araki himself is quite an interesting fellow. According to J-Wiki, along with the fact that he was a singer from 1966 to 1984, thanks to him falling in love with modern jazz as a high school student, he also acted in many movies and TV shows, and has been a music producer, businessman, novelist, a magic critic, and a card magician. A man of many hats indeed who has also gone under a number of pseudonyms such as Napoleon and Suzuka Suzuki. The Tokyo native is also the child of an actress and a literature critic, and as a young man, he even won a prize at a national stamp competition for his own collection.

A mere musician or a Renaissance man? You be the judge.

1 comment:

  1. I already learned something new about him. Thanks for telling more about him!


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