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.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Yujiro Ishihara -- Omokage no Hito (おもかげの女)

Writing this article past midnight Sunday morning since I was out for most of the day helping an old friend celebrate his half-century of life. Plus of course, I did have that latest "Doctor Who" episode to catch (liked the premise but the ending was a little too pat...kinda like some of the old "Star Trek: The Next Generation" eps).

Because I am writing this in the wee hours on a weekend, I thought maybe a nice Mood Kayo was in order. One of the things I enjoy about going to a party is not only meeting up with old friends and making new ones but also watching the overall flow of things as the party continues. Basically I enjoy seeing the different talking groups form in different corners of the home and then morph over the course of the party. Of course, the food is great as well!

It would be rather nice if I could apply this ability to a typical nomiya or cuddly old bar somewhere in Tokyo. While nursing that sake or beer, I could surreptitiously observe the various goings-on at the counter and the tables...the company section carousing over beers or shochu in one corner while a couple are flirting over drinks just a metre down the counter.

Strangely enough, I could imagine the ghost of The Tough Guy, Yujiro Ishihara(石原裕次郎), coming down to one of those thousands of watering holes in the megalopolis to monitor what the mortals are up to. As usual, he's got another crooning song up his sleeve, his 1985 "Omokage no Hito" (Traces of a Woman).

I was surprised that the ballad was actually made in 1985 since listening to the arrangement took my memories back to the 1970s when he was crooning such classics as "Brandy Glass"(ブランデーグラス). There were those sibilant plucks of the guitar along with the haunting chorus in the background...and of course, the comforting tones of Ishihara himself during those final decades.

(empty karaoke version)

Written by Norihiko Sugi(杉紀彦)and composed by Yukihiko Ito(伊藤雪彦), The Tough Guy is showing his more tender side in relating the hero's melancholy over losing his love. It almost sounds as if he didn't lose her to death but other sad circumstances such as work. She could be that Ginza hostess who has gone onto another client at another table in that swanky nightclub while her former love is looking forlornly from afar.

One of the things I've wondered when it comes to enka or Mood Kayo tunes is the reading of the kanji for woman, which is officially onna(女). Often, though, titles carrying that same kanji have had it read as hito(人), or person. There is even the furigana above the kanji to ensure that listeners and karaoke singers know that it is to be read as hito. I'm not sure what this de-genderizing has been about all these decades but is it some method to put some thematic distance between the man and the woman? Unfortunately, I simply don't know.

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