Sunday, September 4, 2016
Masako Mori/Hiroshi Madoka -- Ettou Tsubame （越冬つばめ）
I've known veteran Masako Mori（森昌子）for her teenage love song towards a teacher, "Sensei"（せんせい）back in the early 1970s. However, she is also famous for a much more mature tragic ballad that she recorded a little over a decade later in 1983 titled "Ettou Tsubame" (Hibernating Swallow).
The title may sound no more dramatic than something from a show on the Nature Channel. However, reading the lyrics by Shinichi Ishihara（石原信一）, there is the sad tale of a woman whose love has gone sour since the supposed man of her dreams has found other women to fulfill his flock. And yet, she can't or won't leave the jerk.
Yoshihiko Shinohara（篠原義彦）composed the music whose guitar and strings ebb and flow with the tide. So whenever I hear the song, because of the kanji for winter in the title, I always imagine the poor woman from the song stuck in some house near the shores of one of the northern prefectures during the cold months. The other notable part about "Ettou Tsubame" is the refrain of "hyururi~, hyururi~rara~..." which may signify the cry from that swallow in the title. By the way, Shinohara also happens to be the real name of Hiroshi Madoka（円広志）, who had become famous some years earlier for a catchy pop song of his own.
Although I don't think the above video is from the 1983 Kohaku Utagassen, she gave such a moving performance there (her 11th appearance on the NHK special) that she got quite weepy in the middle. This was apparently not lost on the powers-that-be since Mori was awarded Best Vocal Performance at the annual Japan Record Awards. "Ettou Tsubame" was her 42nd single from August 1983, and it peaked at No. 27 on the charts.
A number of cover versions have been done of "Ettou Tsubame" over the years including Madoka's own version from 1984.