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.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hachiro Kasuga -- Otoko no Butai (男の舞台)

Lookin' pretty good there, Hachi. Kinda prefer the white
double-breasted blazer though.

Seeing Hachiro Kasuga (春日八郎) decked out in a proper kimono feels like sort of a rarity. I'd usually find pictures of him in either in suits or tuxedos, but I suppose those suit (haha, pun intended) the image for most of his songs in his discography better. However, there are a few of his entries where I find western outfits would not suffice, like one of his earlier singles from September 1955, "Otoko no Butai".

(Video got removed)

The premises of "Otoko no Butai" revolves around what may be a kabuki actor and his struggles that come with the profession. What I find interesting is that Hiroshi Yokoi's (横井弘) incorporated certain elements that relate to a kabuki play, such as the geza - as I learnt from this site, it's basically like the performance's accompanying score - to make the fellow Hachi sings about look like he's an actor in his own play. In that sense, it reminds me of Tomio Umezawa's (梅沢富美夫) "Yume Shibai" (夢芝居), although that one seems to lean more to using theater to describe the ins and outs of love rather than the life of a thespian.

Of course, like most songs, what first drew me to "Otoko no Butai" was none other than its music. Brought to you by Tadaharu Nakano (中野忠晴), the melody leans to the traditional side with the shakuhachi rasping away and the shamisen taking the lead - must be because of the kabuki theme. It's also got this dramatic and even slightly regal flair when the trumpets and western strings kick in, especially at the start. I can just imagine what an entrance that would have made with Hachi marching on to the stage in a kimono and hakama as this song plays. Actually, I think "Otoko no Butai" could fit someone like Michiya Mihashi (三橋美智也) too - I was thinking, maybe Hideo Murata (村田英雄), but the melody feels a bit too light (for want of a better word) for him.

To end off, here's a video that's a mix of Hachi's songs taken from his recitals from 1964 to 1976. I love the version of "Otoko no Butai" here for its fuller arrangement and - oh boy, Hacchan's vocals here - hot dang, it was amazing... I'm not sure exactly which recital it was from, but his voice sounded a little less shrill and slightly lower so I'm guessing it'd most likely be from the 70's. The song is in at the the 10:58 mark.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Noelle.

    There is indeed a feeling of a coronation in this song. I can see one of those larger-than-life kabuki characters strutting proudly on the stage as "Otoko no Butai" is playing.


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