Tonight's theme on "Uta Kon" (うたコン) was about the heart of a man and a woman, usually after they've been ripped up, stomped on and generally destroyed. Well, OK, maybe I'm being a bit harsh on the description here.
However, there were a few ballads in which there was still a chance of recovery in the relationship, one of which belonged to veteran Yoichi Sugawara（菅原洋一）. I first wrote about him all the way back in early 2013 for his duet with Silvia, "Amant" (アマン). I believe I mentioned that the old crooner was once a mainstay on the Kohaku Utagassen with his renditions of jazzy Mood Kayo which stood out among all of the aidoru, enka and pop stuff that was going on during the rest of the show.
The ballad that he performed tonight was "Shiritakunaino", a heartfelt ballad about a fellow who doesn't care about the past of a woman he loves. On first listen, I thought that Sugawara was crooning that his love would still remain strong no matter what kind of trouble the lady had found herself before, but as it turned out, it was more about him pleading that she not remember any of her past affairs and just focus on the current one between him and her.
"Shiritakunaino" was actually a cover of a 1953 pop ballad, "I Really Don't Want to Know" created by Don Robertson and Howard Barnes. The Japanese version had its lyrics written by Rei Nakanishi (なかにし礼) and then released in October 1965 as a B-side to one of Sugawara's early singles "Koi Gokoro"（恋心...Heart of Love）. It may have been a B-side ballad but later in 1967, the song actually caught fire with listeners to the point that the crooner finally got his first invitation onto the Kohaku Utagassen that year (he would appear a total of 22 times on the New Year's Eve special until 1988). And for veteran Nakanishi, it was his first success as a lyricist.
After all these years, I'm still a sucker for these corny jazz ballads that would be the ideal accompaniment in an old-fashioned nightclub or bar. May I say that Sugawara is still doing fine at the age of 83?
The original song has been covered by a number of singers including Andy Williams and Elvis Presley but the most famous version according to Wikipedia is the one by the legendary Les Paul and Mary Ford as the husband-and-wife duo.
And hey, just for the heck of it, here's the couple's take on the classic "How High The Moon".