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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.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Keiko Matsuyama -- O-Wakare Koshu Denwa (お別れ公衆電話)


Another song I picked up on during the most recent edition of "Uta Kon" (うたコン) back on Tuesday night was a mournful ballad titled "O-Wakare Koshu Denwa" (Parting in a Phone Booth), originally sung by the late Keiko Matsuyama(松山恵子).

Even at the intro, as soon as I saw the title, I just went "Wow! What a perfectly appropriate title for a Mood Kayo/enka tune". There's nothing so bittersweet than breaking up by phone at some rainy train station although I wonder if the method today is by LINE in Japan. What would be the emoji for breaking up, by the way? Still, although it's the most difficult way, I think parting in person is the right thing to do.

Anyways, "O-Wakare Koshu Denwa" was released in 1959 as one of Matsuyama's signature songs when she was around 22 years old. This is one of those songs that I couldn't really decide whether it was an enka tune or a Mood Kayo affair. The singer's lament on love lost would certainly indicate a Mood Kayo but despite the sad horn section, the tempo and the melody still remind me of an old-style enka. What also stands out was the use of that organ at the intro and outro along with the brief piano solo during the instrumental bridge.


The performance during "Uta Kon" and the performance by Matsuyama herself above bring a much less intimate and brassier feeling to "O-Wakare Koshu Denwa" so that it does really feel like a full Mood Kayo. Despite the song wrapping around the setting of a phone booth, perhaps the booth is now in the middle of Ginza. The song was written by Tetsuro Fujima(藤間哲郎)and composed by Munekata Hakamada袴田宗孝....not quite sure on the reading of the family name).

Keiko Matsuyama was born Tsuneko Okazaki(岡崎恒好)in 1937 in Fukuoka Prefecture although soon after the war, her family moved to the city of Uwajima in Ehime Prefecture. Debuting in 1955 with "Yoimachi Waltz"(宵町ワルツ), she would release many singles and even appear on NHK's Kohaku Utagassen for a total of 8 times including consecutive appearances between 1957 to 1963 although she wouldn't perform "O-Wakare Koshu Denwa" on any of those shows as well as on her final appearance in 1989. Matsuyama passed away at the age of 69 in May 2006. To commemorate that particular song, a special phone booth was constructed in JR Uwajima Station.


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