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.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Miyuki Nakajima/Teresa Teng -- Hitori Jouzu (ひとり上手)

Before the first big snow of the season tonight, my family and I had a pretty nice dinner at a oyster bar surprisingly close to the house. I say surprisingly so since in my neck of the woods, it's usually the fast food or family restaurant franchises that hold sway. Oyster bars are places that I often associate with the downtown area. Still, ironically enough, I'm not a huge oyster fan...certainly not raw. I'm more for the deep-fried variety with tartar sauce. But that wasn't available at this place, so I had a decent surf n' turf.

(cover version)

The threat of a winter storm in the next several hours makes this song all the more appropriate since it is by singer-songwriter Miyuki Nakajima(中島みゆき)...she of the dark lyrics penned next to jaunty melodies. It's not easy to find a fully intact original song by her on the Net; I usually have to settle for karaoke covers so I'm hoping that this one sticks around a while.

"Hitori Jouzu" (Better Alone) is Nakajima's 9th single from October 1980 and I'm really quite drawn to that intro, especially how that guitar just anchors that melody of uncertainty so well. Well, it may start off uncertainly but it quickly goes into an adventurous jaunt although her lyrics talk about a woman who's struggling to get over being dumped while mucking through the winter landscape. The miserable lass is internally telling everyone to not label her as someone who is better alone; she wants that heel back.

There is something about that one amazing song which makes it so Nakajima-esque. As soon as I hear it, I automatically think of the eccentric singer. It may be New Music...the adoption of a non-Japanese arrangement but it just wouldn't be a piece that I would ever have heard in the West. It and Nakajima are inseparable.

"Hitori Jouzu" got as high as No. 6 on Oricon (her 2nd Top 10 single) and it ended up being the 36th-ranked single of 1981. It was also placed as a track on her 8th album "Ringetsu"(臨月...Full Term)from March 1981 which became a chart topper on the Oricon album weeklies. It later became the 7th-ranked album of the year.

The late Teresa Teng (テレサ・テン) covered the song in a slightly City Pop way for her 1983 album "Mànbù rénshēng lù"(漫步人生路...Walking Life's Road). My apologies on the transcription of it...I only had Google Translate to help me out there.

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