Another CD that I purchased over the Holidays was Yumi Matsutoya's（松任谷由実） "Benisuzume" (紅雀...Strawberry Finch) from March 1978. I've been able to get an overall awareness of how the long career of Yuming has progressed from her early years as a New Music pioneer in the 1970s into a more mainstream pop sound into the 80s and beyond, thanks to all of the albums I've collected over the decades since I first heard her on "Sounds of Japan". It's basically been like filling in a puzzle as I started with her discs from the late 80s and early 90s, then jumping back into her first phase when she was the single Yumi Arai（荒井由実）before adding some more CDs in the gaps.
"Benisuzume" has ended up as one of the keynote pieces of the puzzle then. It is Yumi's 5th original album, but even more importantly, it is the first album that was released after she took on the name Matsutoya. That album cover of her all glossed up has been an image that I've seen for years and wondered what was inside the album due to that rather enigmatic expression and pose, without knowing about the significance of it.
Well, I've had Yuming's 4th album, "The 14th Moon" from 1976 which was her final album as Yumi Arai and was basically a happy farewell of sorts to her New Music ways, and I automatically considered it a classic. As for "Benisuzume"...well, the songs are somewhat more subdued, and the fellow critiquing the album in "Nihon no Josei Singer-Songwriter" （日本の女性シンガーソングライター...Japan's Female Singer-Songwriters）put it even more succinctly by saying that despite its No. 2 ranking on the Oricon weeklies, it was considered to be a pretty plain effort. However, he did recommend it for all those who wanted to hear a more introspective Yuming.
I will say that it will probably be one of those albums that will have to grow on me slowly. After all, it took me a good while before I finally appreciated the oeuvre of Taeko Ohnuki（大貫妙子）. And so, that is why I won't be doing an article on the whole album for some time yet.
It might be the case that Yuming's representation on YouTube might be getting as sparse as those for Johnny's groups. So I've only got cover versions here but I did want to highlight one song from "Benisuzume", "Ku-gatsu ni wa Kaeranai" (I Won't Go Home in September). I actually first heard this one on the Fall & Winter discs of her 2007 "Seasons Colours" collection and enjoyed it for that wistful feeling of a time gone past. I'm not 100% sure of the meaning behind her lyrics but it seems as if the singer was relating about someone arriving at the absolute bottom and feeling appropriately but also quietly stating that he/she won't give in or up and so will not head back to the hometown in September.
Reading the write-up of that journalist in "Japanese City Pop", he mentioned that there was a bossa nova feel to the overall album, and so I realized that "Ku-gatsu ni wa Kaeranai" could be put into the same boat, although there is some orchestral enhancement. Perhaps Yuming wanted to start this new stage in her career with a definite difference but also at a more measured pace.