Saw the first episode of "Uta Kon" (うたコン) for 2017 last night. And everyone shook off the post-New Year's holiday stupor to give some pretty rousing performances. What was even better was that the finale had everyone getting on stage to sing "Ue wo Muite Arukou"（上を向いて歩こう）in honour of songwriter Rokusuke Ei（永六輔）who had passed away a number of months ago. As I said in my article a week ago on the show itself, I wasn't too thrilled with that usual sign off the producers went with so to see the hosts and singers doing the proper finish was nice to witness and hopefully that will be the way "Uta Kon" wraps up from now on.
One of the songs that was featured was Yujiro Ishihara's（石原裕次郎）final single from 1987 before his untimely passing. I was thinking about profiling that ballad but I decided to go all the way back when The Tough Guy first started as that whippet-thin force of nature who had been a juvenile delinquent before getting into show business alleviated some of those symptoms. Of course, there was his acting career but I've known Ishihara mostly for his Mood Kayo songs.
His first single was released in February 1957. Titled "Ore wa Matteru ze" (I'm Waiting For You), it showed that Ishihara was already perfectly capable of providing the bluesy cry-in-your-sake kayo at the ripe old age of 22. But that title was created in a way that a hardened young turk would belligerently spit out at a girl, although the lyrics by Masami Ishizaki（石崎正美）revealed a tenderness of the palooka who really wanted to see his old girlfriend, parted by circumstances. Still can't consider myself an expert on Japanese kayo history of the time but I think it was pretty daring having a torch song sung from the male point of view.
Of course, as with any Mood Kayo, Ishizaki provided the ideal ambiance with the rolling night fog and that wharf by the sea. The setting just begged for Ishihara to walk on the pier while wearing that trench coat. Kenroku Uehara（上原賢六）created the music which seemed to bring together the usual instruments for a Mood Kayo: the mournful horns, the languid guitar and even that accordion. I couldn't find out how "Ore wa Matteru ze" did in terms of sales but it did well enough that a movie was made later that same year in October starring Ishihara, of course.
The above video has an older, wiser and rounder Ishihara performing "Ore wa Matteru ze" on "The Big Show" (1974-1979) which was, you might say, the grand senpai for "Uta Kon" on NHK. The accompanying music was even richer with more of that nightclub swing. What I also found notable was how self-effacing Ishihara presented himself, admitting that although he enjoyed singing, he wasn't too good at memorizing lyrics. Frankly, I think his many fans were more than happy to have him sing anything.