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.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hideo Murata/Hibari Misora -- Muhomatsu no Issho (無法松の一生)

Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho yes! Now this is a Murata song. "Muhomatsu no Issho" is fierce with an air of authority, which is pretty much how I view Hideo Murata (村田英雄) - the perfect song to start off the enka veteran's 44 year-long career. Plus just seeing him stand on stage with his head held high while wearing a dour expression on his face and growling out the song so awesome. It kind of looks as if he's going to deliver a beat down on someone who crossed him! But I suppose that's appropriate, especially with the song featuring a violent character from a novel who picks fights over every little thing.

As you can see, "Muhomatsu no Issho" was based on the 1938 book, "Toshima Matsugoro Den" (富島松五郎伝), which was later renamed "Muhomatsu no Issho" in 1943 by the author when the first movie adaptation was made. The story, set in Kokura, Fukuoka, revolves around the titular Matsugoro, a rickshaw-puller who also goes by Muhomatsu (lawless Matsu) because of his rough and tumble, quick to anger personality (I can easily imagine Murata as this character), and his relationship with an army general's widow and son.

The 1958 movie commercial.

For how Muchi's debut single came to be, legendary composer Masao Koga (古賀政男), having heard the then young rokyoku singer over the radio, decided to create a song with Otojiro Yoshino (吉野夫二郎) regarding the story of Muhomatsu since the theater plays and movies (as of 1958) had element of rokyoku in it... or something on that line. And so "Muhomatsu no Issho", the song, was made and released in July 1958, 3 months after the 2nd "Muhomatsu no Issho" movie a.k.a. "The Rickshaw Man" was shown. Many years later in 1981, the words "Dokyo Senryo", which was actually the name of the B-side to the single in the late 50's, were officially added to the tune's title, eventually making it "Muhomatsu no Issho (Dokyo Senryo Iri)" (無法松の一生〈度胸千両入り〉). I'm not sure why the need for that, but it makes the title look pretty cool.

What I like best about "Muhomatsu no Issho" is Koga's melody. The combination of shrill strings and the shamisen makes it rather ominous and foreboding. Then about a third of the way into the song the tapping and thumping of the taiko comes in to set tone for when Muchi describes the Gion festival and the notorious Muhomatsu getting into yet another tussle.

With it being one of Murata's well-known works - he only sang it once on the Kohaku in 1975 though -  "Muhomatsu no Issho" had been covered multiple times by other enka singers. Aya Shimazu, Fuyumi Sakamoto, and Kiyoshi Hikawa are some examples, but the one that I'd like to show here would be Hibari Misora's (美空ひばり) rendition simply because it introduced me to the song. I sort of hijacked Mom's phone as she was watching listening to the Queen of Kayo on YouTube and found the video you see below. At that time (just a few months ago) I knew "Muhomatsu no Issho" was a popular Murata song but I never got around to listen to it so I took that opportunity to do so. As expected, Mom didn't like it even with her favourite Misora behind the mic, but I thought the music and Misora's muscular delivery was definitely worth another listen. Now it's one of my Muchi-favourites. Misora's cover can be found in one of her posthumous cover albums, "Misora Hibari Showa wo Utau" (美空ひばり 昭和を歌う), from 2002.


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