I've spoken a number of times about some of the so-called long-lost songs in the mists of my memories...those old kayo that I used to hear but never knew their singers or titles. However, certain excerpts of it have stuck in my brain since forever. Well, last night, another mystery was solved after decades, and all I had to do was flip the side of a 45" which has one of the most internationally famous songs from Japan.
I found my father's old single record of the "Sukiyaki" song from 1961 by the late Kyu Sakamoto（坂本九）and played it on the TEAC. Of course, all the nostalgia and wistfulness flowed through me like The Force in Luke Skywalker. Then, I flipped it to the B-side and saw this really long title "Ano Ko no Namae wa Nanten kana" (What is the Name of That Woman?) before giving this one a chance.
Well, as soon as the needle hit the vinyl, and those first bars came through, my long-term memory engrams exploded in recognition. It was one of my lost boys coming back to roost in my brain. I remembered those frenetic violins and the rest of that old-style brassy orchestra flying away as this high-pitched voice collaborated to create what sounded like a really upbeat song that could have been a showstopping Broadway piece midway through the musical.
Instead "Ano Ko no Namae wa Nanten kana" was a short comical number partnered with one of the most famous if bittersweet kayo in Japanese music history. It was definitely a tough act to follow which might explain why it hasn't gotten much attention all these years. But it was still Sakamoto, it was still created by the same songwriters behind "Sukiyaki", Hachidai Nakamura and Rokusuke Ei（中村八大・永六輔）, and it's still fun to listen to.
Basically, Kyu is singing about a fellow who falls for some lady while seeing the back of her from a distance, presumably in some department store for reasons that will become evident within a few sentences. As those hearts flutter around the suddenly heads-over-heels lad, he starts wondering what she would way at any courtship attempts and, more importantly, he also takes a shot at figuring out what her name is. Is it Hanako? Midori? Misasa? The sky's the limit. And by the end of the song, he finally gets the gumption to approach the lass...only to find out it's a mannequin! Hey, I'm not judging here.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any actual stage performances of "Ano Ko no Namae wa Nanten kana" on YouTube but I would think that it would have had to have been performed on TV since I could easily envision a comical rendition with matching choreography. When I still just had that excerpt of the song in memory all those years, I had assumed it was actually Kiyoko Suizenji（水前寺清子）because of the sharp high voice and just the really happy nature of the song.
Now I can happily cross another long-lost song off my list and proudly consider it found.😃