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.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Chiharu Matsuyama -- Kisetsu no Naka de (季節の中で)

The Toronto Maple Leafs, a once-successful Original Six team of the National Hockey League, has been mostly a laughing stock for almost 50 years. I cannot remember the event but my team apparently did win the Stanley Cup when I was all of 18 months old but since then, nothing much although we did have a good run sometime in the early 90s one year. This past season will end up being another horrible one for the Leafs (being dead last in the league) although this time, there is some hope as it looks like the current management structure has actually been pushing things into the right direction in the midst of a massive rebuilding. Meanwhile, the players will do their usual thing and hit the golf links way too early and muse about life in the green season.

All this resigned ranting about a hockey team just so that I can provide an intro about a Japanese folk song that was released some 11 years after the Leafs' last championship. "Kisetsu no Naka de" (During the Season) was Chiharu Matsuyama's(松山千春)5th single from August 1978 and was the songwriter's first No. 1 hit. In it, he muses about life and the future while gazing up at the sky. I envision Matsuyama lying down on some grass and considering that he is from Hokkaido, that patch of green probably covers a lot of acres (or hectares as we say here in Canada and in Japan). In any case, I'm sure that at least there will be a few hockey players at least who may be doing the same thing in a couple of months.

"Kisetsu no Naka de" is one of Matsuyama's big hits, and it starts out like my perceived impression of a folk song...rather languidly but then some 40 seconds into it, the song blasts into a flourish and then keeps up a fairly jaunty pace as the singer continues in that trademark nasal croon. I didn't notice the little bit of synth in there but I've always enjoyed the strings that accompany the refrain.

The song hit No. 1 on Oricon and became a million-seller. It is currently his 2nd-most successful single after "Nagai Yoru"(長い夜...A Long Night). It was also used for a Glico chocolate commercial starring the cute couple of Momoe Yamaguchi and Tomokazu Miura(山口百恵・三浦友和), and was even used in the opening march for the Spring National High School Baseball Championships in Koshien in 1979...which is a huge deal in Japan. Eventually, "Kisetsu no Naka de" became the 26th-ranked song for 1978 and even rose a couple of more ranks at the end of 1979.

According to J-Wiki, Matsuyama was not a big fan of appearing on TV and so he often rejected any requests to appear on the music shows, but seeing how many of his fans really wanted their hero to show up on the tube, he finally relented to appear just this one time on "The Best 10". His big appearance took place in the middle of a concert in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, and apparently aidoru Momoe Yamaguchi who was supposed to appear on the show to do her number had yet to arrive at the studio due to a shoot on another program that had run late. So after Matsuyama finished "Kisetsu no Naka de", the assistant director probably furiously made the international sign for "STRETCH IT OUT!!", and the singer decided to have an impromptu talk session with his fans. The result was that time ran out and the only sign of Yamaguchi for that particular episode was a photograph of her during the signoff. Not great for her fans but knowing how much Matsuyama would be more than willing to give his opinions on air in later years, the singer probably had an epiphany on that day.

Just had to finish off with master impressionist Corocket's take on the distinctive voice of Matsuyama.

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