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.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Michiya Mihashi -- Akai Yuuhi no Furusato (赤い夕陽の故郷)/ Hachiro Kasuga -- Umineko no Naku Hatoba (海猫の啼く波止場)

Well, out of the 45"s grab bag today, I got a 2-for-1 deal. To explain, I found this relatively thick single record that had two different and legendary kayo singers and their songs with the only thing in common being their release year which was 1958. So I said, why not cover them both in the same article?

On one side is Michiya Mihashi's(三橋美智也)"Akai Yuuhi no Furusato" (Home of the Red Setting Sun) which begins and ends with the singer bellowing "Oi!" as the beckoning call of the ol' hometown. Pure and clear as the waters of that countryside hamlet, Mihashi's voice calls out for the working stiffs in Tokyo to come back and spend some happy times again.

The deep twang of the guitar and the occasional appearance of the marimba joining the traditional strings had me thinking that this ode to the heartland would have been performed in some city nightclub trying to get the customers dreaming of home once again. Perhaps it could have been thought as being somewhat counter-intuitive since folks heading back to the countryside would have meant fewer patrons in those dancing-and-drinking lounges but hey, I'm betting even the proprietors wanted to head back home once in a while.

"Akai Yuuhi no Furusato" was written by Hiroshi Yokoi(横井弘)and composed by Tadaharu Nakano(中野忠晴). Imagine coming back home at sunset to a welcoming family with the bath and a good hot meal all ready for you.

The flip side has Hachiro Kasuga's(春日八郎)"Umineko no Naku Hatoba" (The Wharf of the Black-Tailed Gulls). This one was written by Ryo Yano(矢野亮)and composed by Isao Hayashi(林伊佐緒)(although for some reason, J-Wiki has Yokoi writing this one...a definite error since my 45" has Yano as the lyricist).

Given my relative lack of knowledge in the enka/Mood Kayo genres, I had been having my problems distinguishing the voices of Mihashi and Kasuga. Well, thanks to discovering this record, I no longer have to worry. Whereas Mihashi has those pearly higher tones, Kasuga has a slightly more garrulous and lower delivery. As for "Umineko no Naku Hatoba", Kasuga's ballad kinda wavers into the Mood Kayo territory as the singer talks and croons about ending up falling in love with that special woman on the wharf. But is the hero happy about it? Being a Mood Kayo, not necessarily. With the horns and especially that mournful saxophone, the palooka is probably at some bar near the titular wharf filled with alcohol and a lot of complicated emotions about what to do since being in love with the sea was far simpler than actually going head-over-heels with a lady. Ah, that is life.

My respects for the owner of this old player and the 78" version of the song. In a way, I guess the song does sound like something from an even earlier decade.

1 comment:

  1. Those are some contrasting singles right there. I've seen many records having the same 2-in-1 deal online, but I got the impression that both would have a similar vibe. In Michi's lighter and jauntier "Akai Yuuhi no Furusato", I get the image of a fellow returning to his hometown with the orange rays of the setting sun painting that happy face, all ready for the family, bath and dinner. Hachi's one on the other hand sounds like the what would happen if the same guy was unable to return to his hometown for that hot meal, and had to be stuck in the congested city for probably a few more months. No hot meal with the family, but hot sake (or brandy, considering the Western-sounding music) with random strangers.

    Anyway, I definitely prefer Michi's single due to familiarity and a more upbeat melody, but the jazzy and melancholic "Umineko no Naku Hatoba" is beginning to grow on me. I find the lonely sax and Hachi's muttering at the beginning of each stanza rather atmospheric.

    On a different note, I had no idea an umineko refers to a black-tailed gull. Looking at the kanji, I always thought it referred to those cats that call the bay their homes. And so the enka's love affair with flying creatures continues.


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