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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.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Akira Kobayashi -- Mukashi no Namae de Deteimasu (昔の名前で出ています)


It had been about 2 weeks since I caught "Uta Kon" (うたコン) since the week before I was watching a movie and getting a nice if slightly pricey yakitori dinner with a couple of old friends. But I was back in front of the screen on Tuesday night and I was quite fortunate since the partial theme for that "Uta Kon" happened to be about Yokohama. And a lot of songs about that port city are old kayo.

One song under that theme was one that I had never heard before. Titled "Mukashi no Namae de Deteimasu" (Under My Old Name), I found out that this a single by former 50s young turk Akira Kobayashi(小林旭). Now, my image of him has always been of him during his appearances on shows like "Uta Kon" as a middle-aged guy built like a proverbial wall (I'm thinking a J-Robert Mitchum) instead of his early heartthrobbing movie-star turns, and musically speaking, the song that I always associate with Kobayashi is his "Atsuki Kokoro ni"(熱き心に)from 1985.


As I mentioned in that article, "Atsuki Kokoro ni" was quite unusual in that it was neither fully enka nor fully pop. Singer-songwriter Eiichi Ohtaki(大瀧詠一)crafted this song to sound somewhat like a heroic cowboy theme for the big guy Kobayashi and it turned out to be another melodic feather in his ten-gallon cap. However, "Mukashi no Namae de Deteimasu" which was released a decade earlier in January 1975 has turned out to be his most successful song.

Written by Tetsuro Hoshino(星野哲郎)and composed by Gendai Kano(叶弦大), "Mukashi no Namae de Deteimasu" is a more traditional enka or Mood Kayo song compared to "Atsuki Kokoro ni". Again, it's one of those tunes that I couldn't really peg down to a single genre. Kobayashi sings it from the point of view of a woman...a club hostess, to be exact...pining away for a long-gone flame after years working in Yokohama, Kobe and Kyoto under different aliases. And perhaps she is saying this just to herself but she is letting her love know that she is back under the name that he had known her as.

The pining away for a lost love is a typical enka trope but it is enveloped in this Mood Kayo arrangement including the sorrowful chorus of Singers Three (I automatically thought of Yujiro Ishihara). And kayo singers crooning from the view of the opposite sex is nothing new but I'm sure a few pairs of eyes were raised when the burly Kobayashi took on this singing role.


"Mukashi no Namae de Deteimasu" was a slow burner after its release in 1975 but Kobayashi performed it in a lot of the country's various cabarets and other establishments, whether they were in the big cities or in the smaller regional towns. As a result, its fame gradually grew to the point where the song finally broke the Top 10, reaching No. 6 at its highest. In fact, it became the 5th-ranked song for 1977, 3 years after its release, and hung for another year, becoming the 60th-ranked song for 1978. It even broke the 2-million-record barrier in sales and got Kobayashi his first appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen.

To be honest, I'm starting to actually like this song even more than "Atsuki Kokoro ni" just because I'm a Mood Kayo softie at heart. As for the final video above, I just had to let viewers see Seiko Matsuda(松田聖子)perform a nice version of "Mukashi no Namae" in front of the master himself. Imagine the premier aidoru of the early 80s performing a shibui Mood Kayo. Will wonders never cease?


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