On the heels of not only the graduation songs article I wrote about earlier today but also yesterday's article on Shoji Koganezawa（小金沢昇司）, I'm introducing veteran singer Peggy Hayama（ペギー葉山）to the pages of "Kayo Kyoku Plus". Like Koganezawa, I had assumed that Hayama was already here since again her name is one that I've heard for years via TV shows and the like but when I checked the Labels, I had to sheepishly admit to myself that there had been no representation of her.
Well, yesterday, she did show up on "Uta Kon" (うたコン) last night, if just via old video tape, on a retrospective of graduation-themed songs. She sang "Gakusei Jidai" (Student Days) which was one of her singles from 1964, and sounding appealingly upbeat yet wistful, I decided to talk about this one tonight.
Written and composed by the late jazz musician Seiji Hiraoka（平岡精二）for Hayama, I think I actually like the version given in the very top video since it hews closer to Hiraoka's roots although I believe it's also a relatively recent take according to the arrangement. The performance video just here is probably close to what was actually recorded.
According to an NTT Docomo-sponsored radio show featuring guest Hayama back in 2012 (via J-Wiki), Hiraoka had initially meant the song to be titled "Daigaku Jidai"（大学時代...University Days）but Hayama insisted that it wouldn't be an appropriate title since she felt that the times back then were such that not everyone was heading to university. There was quite a back-and-forth between her and Hiraoka until Hayama won out so that "Gakusei Jidai" became the official title.
The lyrics were modeled on Hayama's own student days through the Aoyama Gakuin school system in Tokyo (the singer had attended the junior high and senior high schools there at least) that also happened to be Hiraoka's own alma mater. "Gakusei Jidai" also mentions about a chapel which actually refers to the Charles Oscar Miller Memorial Chapel in Berry Hall at the Aoyama campus of Aoyama Gakuin University. In fact, "Gakusei Jidai" has been called the second anthem for the university.
"Gakusei Jidai" was released in the pre-Oricon days so there were no rankings given but it did become a huge hit selling at least a million records and garnering Hayama her 12th straight appearance on NHK's Kohaku Utagassen at the end of 1965.
The song got its fair share of covers by singers over the decades including Masako Mori（森昌子）who seemed to specialize in school-based kayo in her early days. She provided her own version of "Gakusei Jidai" in her 1973 album "Chuugaku Sannen-sei"（中学三年生...Junior High School Senior）with a typically 70s arrangement of jaunty violins, flute and perhaps a vibraphone (xylophone?). Considering that Mori was only around 15 years old at the time, her performance was probably what Hayama had been insisting upon when it came to the title nearly a decade before...it wasn't just a song about university life but also of the life of any kid in the high school system.
Actress-singer Chieko Baisho（倍賞千恵子）gave a more near-operatic take on the song starting with a whirlwind of a string intro...perhaps reflecting the usual high-paced hijinks of students racing to school. Her version was recorded on her 1975 album "Baisho Chieko Best 20".
I'm sure there are generations of alumni who have heard the song and quickly reminisced back to those salad days in school. In any case, for all those in Japan who are making that big leap between levels in the education system, my congratulations!