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.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Yumi Arai -- Watashi no Francoise (私のフランソワーズ)

Starting to get into Japanese pop music when I did, I found myself having to go back through a singer's catalogue as much as I did following him/her into the future. Made things quite an adventure. That has certainly been true with Yumi Arai/Yumi Matsutoya(荒井由実・松任谷由実)whose career is steadily approaching 50 years. With things beginning in the early 1980s for me, Yuming(ユーミン)was already an established pop star and accomplished songwriter with her eminently listenable music. So it was an interesting journey going back into early days when she had her maiden name of Arai and was being a part of this New Music trend in Japanese music back in the 1970s. Her voice was surprisingly mellow back in the day.

I pulled this one out of the vaults, specifically from her 2nd album "MISSLIM" from October 1974. When I first listened to "Watashi no Francoise" (My Francoise), I felt it was quite a tribute to this lady who I hadn't known about. Was she a departed friend or someone that inspired her from Yuming's past?

Well, according to the J-Wiki article on "MISSLIM", this heartfelt ballad was created in honour of French singer-songwriter Françoise Hardy. Yuming, who has made a reputation for weaving her songs out of her observations of women in regular life, probably didn't hesitate to talk about her own loves and feelings so I think her admiration and love for Hardy poured out as her words for this song. I translated one verse which says it all:

My Francoise
I come home to your music
Whenever I feel sad

I think singer YO-EN does a great version of the song as seen above, and she does sound like Yumi Arai here. Considering her musical love letter, "Watashi no Francoise"  reminds me to a good extent of Anri's(杏里)debut single "Olivia wo Kikinagara"(オリビアを聴きながら)which came out 4 years later.

Referring back to the video at the top, after merely listening to Yuming's body of work for a number of years, to see the singer show some excellent chops as a concert entertainer on a videotape of her "Wings of Light" tour was quite the revelation. But I also realize that even earlier than that, she had quite the style and presence on stage.

As for "MISSLIM", it reached No. 8 on Oricon and became the 44th-ranked album for 1975. A year later, the Oricon rankings had it all the way up to No. 14.

To wrap up, here is Yuming's own idol with her breakout hit, "Tous les garçons et les filles" from 1962.

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