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.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Chiemi Eri -- Tennessee Waltz (テネシーワルツ)

This is a song that has been heard in the two homes that my family has had since I was a toddler. It certainly helped that my parents were long into the country music thing at the time. "Tennessee Waltz", written by Redd Stewart and composed by Pee Wee King, was released in 1948 but arguably the most famous version of it came from singer Patti Page above.

Now as much as I heard "Tennessee Waltz" on TV shows such as "Hee Haw" and annual showings of "The Grand Ole Opry", I was also introduced to the Japanese cover of the romantic ballad early in my life with the most famous cover by the late Chiemi Eri(江利チエミ)when she released it in January 1952 as her debut single at the tender age of 14 (I gotta say, though, that the above picture of her sure doesn't look 14)!. Eri's version had a mix of the original lyrics by Stewart and Japanese lyrics by Takashi Otowa(音羽たかし).

For Eri, "Tennessee Waltz" was a huge hit, selling 400,000 records and becoming the singer's trademark tune. Strangely enough, even though Eri appeared on the Kohaku Utagassen 16 consecutive times from 1953 to 1968, she never sang her debut song on the program.

The Japanese version of "Tennessee Waltz" has frankly taken on legendary status since it's been covered by numerous singers ranging from Hibari Misora(美空ひばり)to Atsushi from EXILE.

The impetus for me to write about the song tonight was that I heard a wonderful version of it by enka singer Kaori Mizumori(水森かおり). Mizumori is known as the Queen of the Regional Songs, and this is about as far-flung a region as she has ever sung about.

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