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.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mimi Hiyoshi/Akina Nakamori -- Otoko to Onna no Ohanashi(男と女のお話)

I was going through my father's stack of old 33s and 45s when I came across the above single with that image of a rather striking young woman from decades back. Her name was Mimi Hiyoshi(日吉ミミ), a kayo singer who unfortunately passed away a few years ago at the age of 64. And although I couldn't find the original version of the above record "Osaka Koi Uta"(大阪恋歌...Osaka Love Song)on YouTube, I did find the first big hit of her career, "Otoko to Onna no Ohanashi" (Talk Between A Man and a Woman).

Hiyoshi was originally born Kazuko Koike(小池和子)from Saitama Prefecture just above Tokyo in 1947. She debuted in 1967 under the stage name of Kazuko Ike(池和子)but after her first three singles failed to succeed, there was a career reset with a change in name to Mimi Hiyoshi in 1969. Her 2nd single after the name change (her 5th single overall) was the one that finally got her into the stratosphere. "Otoko to Onna no Ohanashi" was released in May 1970 as this melancholy ballad with Hiyoshi singing from the point of view of the fellow trying to advise a lady on the facts of love (and love lost) after she's just been dumped. After listening to it once, I had thought the fellow was a particularly caring bartender but looking at the lyrics by Kyosuke Kuni(久仁京介), I think Hiyoshi could be playing a regular barfly with the heart of a wannabe Casanova.

Supposedly Hiyoshi was known for her coquettish voice, but I think for this song and even "Osaka Koi Uta" which I heard on the stereo, her vocals were much more commanding (although still high-pitched) in the "I've-been-there-I-know-what-it's-like" tone. Masakazu Mizushima(水島正和)was responsible for the melody whose guitar and strings added that layer of further softness to the singer's advice to the lovelorn.

"Otoko to Onna no Ohanashi" touched a chord with listeners. It reached its peak at No. 6 on Oricon and sold over 600,000 records. And she made her sole appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen on the power of this song. Hiyoshi released 48 singles and 13 albums up to 2010.

(excerpt only)

There were a few covers of the ballad over the decades, most notably by Akina Nakamori(中森明菜)for her 2014 album, "All Time Best - Utahime (Covers)"(オールタイム・ベスト 〜歌姫(カヴァー)〜). Her version comes off as a semi-jazz waltz that Akina pulls off admirably; she seems to have that voice for world-weariness down pat on those recent cover albums. I especially like the intro into her cover since it reminds me a bit of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five"

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