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, April 5, 2018

Motomaro/Mari Amachi/Yoshio Hayakawa -- Salvia no Hana(サルビアの花)

This afternoon, as I was plowing through some translation work, I decided to listen to one of the CDs from the "Good Times Diva" series for the first time in a long while. Specifically the disc of choice was Volume 2 which you can see at the bottom with the Cameron Diaz-looking figure in blue. There was one haunting ballad from the 1970s which got me interested enough to write an article about it.

Lili Iwabuchi(岩渕リリ)was the singer on Volume 2 who tackled "Salvia no Hana" (Salvia Flowers), a sad song about a man devastated from losing the love of his life to another man. However, Iwabuchi's version is not up on YouTube (although she is represented by her other songs); incidentally, "Salvia no Hana" was her 2nd single released in April 1972. There isn't much on her J-Wiki article except for a brief discography that only has 4 singles and 1 album for the years of 1972 and 1973.

There's no J-Wiki article at all for the folk trio Motomaro(もとまろ)and that is because they even had less of a presence in the kayo kyoku world than Iwabuchi. I actually had to look for their biography on a Japanese site called "Folk Song Cafe", and basically, after being encouraged to enter a folk song contest on a TBS program "Young 720"(ヤング720)while they were still at school, they ended up winning for 5 weeks and getting a recording contract. The record they made was their own cover of "Salvia no Hana" which came out in the same year. But since none of the three members had any interest in pursuing a professional singing career, that one song was it and Motomaro broke up.

A couple of years later, 70s aidoru Mari Amachi(天地真理)gave her own take on "Salvia no Hana" as a track on her 8th album "Koi to Umi to T-Shirt to/Koibito-tachi no Minato"(恋と海とTシャツと/恋人たちの港...Love and The Sea and A T-Shirt)which came out in June 1974. Clear-voiced as ever, Amachi's "Salvia no Hana" is a straight pop version with a melancholy trumpet that also stood out in Iwabuchi's cover.

Investigating this song more deeply, I found out that the original was by far the most affecting and effective in terms of the melody and the singer behind it. Yoshio Hayakawa(早川義夫), who composed and performed "Salvia no Hana", was a member of a psychedelic rock band called Jacks(ジャックス), and I heard some of their stuff a few hours ago, so I'm gonna have to talk about their "Marianne"(マリアンヌ)sometime soon.

Hayakawa released his first solo album in November 1969, "Kakkoii koto wa nante Kakkowarui daro"(かっこいいことはなんてかっこ悪いんだろう...Cool Things Are Uncool), which included the original "Salvia no Hana" with lyrics by Yasuko Aizawa(相沢靖子). Listening to his "Salvia no Hana", you would almost think that he was the poor guy whose girlfriend had left him. No screeching or wailing from him, though. He's just a forlorn palooka resigned to his single fate as he is tinkling on that piano in a nearly deserted bar while whoever's left is using the song to nurse their drinks and troubles. That piano makes the whole song.

Since then, Motomaro and Amachi are just two of the many artists who have covered "Salvia no Hana". I've glanced them on YouTube but apparently there have been covers by Aming(あみん), Yoshihiro Kai(甲斐よしひろ), and Rumiko Koyanagi(小柳ルミ子).

I will be honest with you. Considering the kana reading of the title, I had thought that it referred to the nation of Serbia and had initially written a lot of the article with that in the title. I was rather wondering what flowers from this particular European country had to do with a romantic breakup in Japan. It turns out they never did. Just in case, you can get this little briefer on this plant from the mint family.

Meanwhile, I shall see about getting something up for Lili Iwabuchi and Jacks.

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