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.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Yumi Matsutoya -- Toki no Nai Hotel (時のないホテル)

Up to now, the only Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実)song that I have covered from this album with the intriguing cover photo of the singer is "Yosoyuki Gao de"(よそゆき顔で), the wistful mid-tempo track about a woman enjoying one last day alone on a drive before she gets wed the next day.

"Toki no Nai Hotel" (The Timeless Hotel) is Yuming's 9th album from June 1980 and probably among all of the covers of her many albums, the one for this particular release is the most standout for me. By this point in her career, the singer-songwriter was already getting bolder in her own shots so to see her in that flashy outfit making that pose in the revolving door of the Brown's Hotel in London caught my eye most definitely. I would love to stay in that hotel if I ever get to London but noticing that it has labeled itself a 5-Star Luxury Hotel on its website, in all likelihood, the closest I will ever get to it is looking at it from across the street taking a photograph of it. Apparently, Mrs. Matsutoya was already enjoying the fruits of her labours.

(from around 5:08)

I haven't heard every one of her albums under her more poppier banner as Yumi Matsutoya but among the ones that I own, I think "Toki no Nai Hotel" is more mixed in the genres. There's some mellow AOR interspersed with the slightly rock ballads for example. However, I also feel that Yuming was getting deeper and more dramatic with her storytelling. In fact, I wonder whether she saw herself as a movie script writer when she crafted this album.

Case in point is the title track itself. I first saw the performance of "Toki no Nai Hotel" on the video of her "Wings of Light" tour where I found out how much of an entertainer she was on stage. And that was the trigger that got me to buy the album so many years ago; I hadn't known at the time that "Yosoyuki Gao de" was included.

"Toki no Nai Hotel" has Yuming describing a tale of intrigue along the lines of an old wartime spy novella with an antenna in that powder puff and a transmitter in the lipstick holder (actually written in the lyrics). I have the feeling that the singer saw herself as a J-Mata Hari...perhaps that photo of her in the cover may have been her trying to flee the enemy. Unfortunately the video doesn't have her doing so but in the original recording, much of her vocals are filtered through an old-style wireless which adds to the moodiness. It's an unusual song to be sure since her music seems to be acting out all the drama.

The opening track is "Cecile no Shuumatsu"(セシルの週末...Cecile's Weekend), a rock love song that sounds as if it would have been performed by acts like Heart back in the States. I don't have a solid hold on the lyrics but I think it's the guy who has come from the wrong side of the tracks to woo the good girl with Yuming singing about the inner turmoil that his proposal has brought. It will be one intense weekend for Cecile.

(karaoke version)

I had first thought that the melody for "Ame ni Kieta Jogger"(雨に消えたジョガー...The Jogger Who Disappeared Into The Rain)was a little too cheery if languid since my assumption from Yuming's way-out inclusion of "Myelogenous Leukemia" into the lyrics suggested that the heroine or hero was not too long for this world. However, looking into the words a bit more, I realized that the young lady was probably studying medicine in the library and came across the term while admiring that handsome jogger running in the rain.

There's a bit more on the movie front here with "5 cm no Mukogishi"(5cmの向う岸...The 5cm Opposite Cliff). According to the J-Wiki article on the album, Yuming may have received inspiration for the song from the 1979 flick "Agatha" starring Vanessa Redgrave and Dustin Hoffman since the latter looked pretty short standing next to the statuesque actress at 6 feet. The song deals with the trials and tribulations that a romantic couple is going through when their peers gawk at the fact that the boyfriend is 5 cm or 2 inches shorter than the if that is a problem...really? However, the happy beat of the song illustrates that the situation is more mirthful than sad. The above video has the song being performed by a band called Otokogumi(漢組).

If there were a Hollywood movie made based on the song, I would have Steve Carell (although he is an inch taller than I am) and Famke Janssen as the couple...7 cm difference. Hilarity ensues.

Unlike "5 cm no Mukogishi", the following song is very dark and very long. "Compartment"(コンパートメント)is the longest song that Yuming has ever made to date at a little over 7 minutes, and it's the sad story of someone who has finally had enough of life and decides to end it all in a train compartment by overdosing on sleeping pills. I wonder if Yuming took more inspiration from "Agatha" when creating this song since the movie dealt with the mysterious 11-day disappearance of mystery writer Agatha Christie with the movie's speculation that attempted suicide was the reason.

"Toki no Nai Hotel" went as high as No. 3 on the Oricon weeklies. I guess if I were to describe this particular album to a new Yuming fan in a short phrase, it would be to say that it is her trip to the movies.

P.S. In trying to find the song "Toki no Nai Hotel", I encountered the YouTube channel of one Nammy Mikami(三上ナミ)who has been singing the old standards. She also has her own website.

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