The theme for the most recent episode of NHK's "Kayo Concert"（歌謡コンサート）was heading out for the countryside. And when it comes to those kayo, the oft-used theme for them is trying to run away or refresh oneself after a romantic breakup. So I heard a lot of sung stories about sudden loneliness and/or getting back on that horse emotionally.
Strangely enough, a few days before the broadcast, I put on an old 33.3 rpm record of Michiya Mihashi（三橋美智也）unabashedly titled "Michiya Hit Album No. 1" with a young sly and slimmer enka singer looking out at me. The first track was his 1957 hit "O-Saraba Tokyo". Now I know the meaning of saraba which is "farewell" but with the honourific "O" in front of it, I could only translate the title as "Fond Farewell, Tokyo". Quite the grand exit from the Big Sushi.
And like those songs I heard on Tuesday night on "Kayo Concert", the lyrics by Hiroshi Yokoi（横井弘）relate a poor fellow so broken up by a now-deceased relationship that he feels the need to leave Tokyo. There's not so much a mention about getting out to the hometown or to a more rural landscape to take a deep fresh breath; it's just trying to flee the metropolis. "O-Saraba Tokyo" is another one of those enka-Mood Kayo hybrids. Tadaharu Nakano's（中野忠晴）music has that languid country-style lilt to it which would peg it as an enka for outside the big city but with those rich horns in there as well, I could imagine it being sung by Mihashi in a Ginza nightclub.
The ballad definitely hit a nerve among the fans since it did get Mihashi his 3rd gig on the 9th Kohaku Utagassen at the end of 1958, and according to J-Wiki, Radio Tokyo's "Ninki Tokyo Mutsu no Uta"（人気東京六つの歌...The 6 Popular Songs of Tokyo）music program had "O-Saraba Tokyo" at No. 1 on its own chart for 50 straight weeks! It might as well have been the official theme song for the show.
Above is a cover of the old chestnut by another enka darling Kouhei Fukuda（福田こうへい）whose version is straight enka.
|Yup, I can imagine Mihashi's teeth would be gleaming.|