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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ann Lewis -- Shampoo (シャンプー)

Not sure if this also applies in the West, but in Japan whenever there is a romantic breakup, especially when the relationship had been a long one, the custom is that a woman with long hair would cut it down to a bob (the guy can apparently keep his money on haircuts). So I guess if any woman heads out to work or play with a radically different do, her colleagues may exclaim "Oh dear, I hope it wasn't too painful..." or "Why, that jerk! Dumping her like that...". Therefore, it's not just the fall season that signifies the end of a beautiful relationship but a drastic visit to a hair salon.

I decided to start off with this tonsorial anecdote since it would seem to be the theme of this unusual but lovely ballad by Ann Lewis (アン・ルイス). The reason I say "unusual" is that I've never heard Lewis sing something that wasn't hard rock from her 80s period or one of her very early sweet songs from the first half of the 1970s.

As it is, "Shampoo" is a track from her 8th album from August 1979, "Pink Pussycat". I've seen the cover for this album numerous times in books and at the CD shops in Japan, and yep, that was my image of Lewis because of all of those rock tunes. I would have approached her with trepidation. And yet, here is "Shampoo" done in this slightly gospel bluesy style almost along the lines of Minako Yoshida(吉田美奈子). Perhaps it's not surprising then that Yoshida's frequent songwriting partner, Tatsuro Yamashita(山下達郎), was behind the composition of this ode to the breakup while Chinfa Kan(康珍化)took up the duty of writing the melancholy lyrics.

There was that old chestnut in America titled "I'm Washing That Man Right Out of My Hair" which was always performed gleefully as if the woman was celebrating a lottery win by finally ridding herself of that jerk. "Shampoo" instead has quite the opposite emotion in which the protagonist is crying her tears in the shower as she tries to wash away the sadness of the breakup from her now-shortened hairdo. Lewis tries to encourage her to forget about the past and look forward to the future. There are other fish in the sea, y'know.

Always nice to hear a new side from a singer that I've known for decades.

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