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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, December 5, 2015

Noboru Kirishima -- Tabiyakusha no Uta (旅役者の唄)


I'm not sure why, but over the past few days I had the urge do an article on a ryukoka that I wasn't that familiar with and one that was not by a ryukoka artiste I favour, like Yoshio Tabata (田端義夫). Consulting the J-Wiki pages of composers of the pre/post-war era Yoshiji Nagatsu (長津義司) and Masao Koga (古賀政男) for ideas, nothing tickled my fancy then and there when skimming through their works, and so I decided to re-watch a medley of ancient kayo which you can see up there to choose the song that either the bespectacled Noboru Kirishima (霧島昇) or the beatific Minoru Obata (小畑実) had sung. As you can see from the title, I went with the latter whose name I never knew how to pronounce until recently, with the reason being - I had not covered anything by him before.

"Tabiyakusha no Uta", which was what the frowning, sad-faced Kirishima sang at that time, isn't as jovial as Obata's "Kantaro Tsukiyo Uta" (勘太郎月夜唄), and I actually did not like this post-war song (released in 1946) the moment I heard it. But with the ryukoka medley on constant replay (I think I've mentioned this in one article before), Kirishima's forlorn delivery and the fast-paced haunting melody of "Tabiyakusha no Uta" slowly grew on me, eventually becoming a tune that would get stuck in my head from time to time... Yup, it is doing just that right as I'm writing this and won't go away for another day or so.


Anyway, remember me saying that nothing on Nagatsu or Koga's J-Wiki articles caught my attention? Well, I only found out when selecting "Tabiyakusha no Uta" that Koga was the one who had composed it. Another look at the great composer's repertoire after that revealed that Kirishima was one of his frequent collaborators, and "Tabiyakusha..." was one of the multiple works produced from this collaboration. I guess I did not see that sooner due to never looking at the song's title whenever it came up and its melody not having the high-pitched notes from the mandolin (still not sure) that I can easily associate with Koga.

In the title as well as Yaso Saijo's (西條八十) lyrics, the words "Tabiyakusha" are mentioned. I did some research on it - turns out that "Tabiyakusha" are basically actors from this genre of Japanese theater called taishu engeki, or theater for the masses. The actors move from theater to theater to act, hence the "Tabi". So I think "Tabiyakusha no Uta" had Kirishima singing about the journeys of the roving thespians.

He looks so worried...
columbia.jp

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