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.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

THE BOOM/Akiko Yano & Kazumasa Oda -- Chuo Sen(中央線)

In terms of commuting within the Greater Tokyo Area, I got to know Japan Railways as much as I did the Tokyo subways. Often, I took the looping green Yamanote Line and since I had to regularly hightail it out all the way to Chiba City at one point in my teaching career, I got to take (and sleep on) the yellow Sobu Line. However, due to priorities in commuting, I never took the orange Chuo Line all that much although it had a truly long range between Tokyo Station and the wilds of Mt. Takao which is officially within the Tokyo city limits.

Man, it has been a long time since I wrote about the band THE BOOM. I did write about their most famous hit "Kaze ni Naritai"(風になりたい)back in late 2012, so it's been around 5.5 years.

But this song here is another whose melody is quite familiar to me. "Chuo Sen" was THE BOOM's 19th single from June 1996 although it had actually been the coupling song to the band's 5th single, "Sakadachi sureba Kotae ga Wakaru"(逆立ちすれば答えがわかる...You'll Know The Answer Once You Stand On Your Head)which came out in July 1990. Written and composed by vocalist Kazufumi Miyazawa(宮沢和史), it strikes me as being a pretty cool and languid ballad about someone reminiscing of a past love while waxing romantic about the titular JR line. Mind you, considering how crowded the Chuo Line could get, Miyazawa must have had some imagination. The single peaked at No. 84 on Oricon. "Chuo Sen" was also a track on THE BOOM's 3rd album "JAPANESKA" from September 1990 which broke the Top 10 by landing at No. 4.

Also, one would be forgiven if he/she thought that "Chuo Sen" would be a shoo-in as a campaign song for the actual line. But then again, why would JR need to create a commercial for a commuter line that is guaranteed tons of passengers every day? In any case, the song was used instead for the contracting firm, Shimizu Corporation, and the Matsumoto Yamaga Football Club in the J-League as a cheer song by its fans.

A decade later in 2006, Akiko Yano & Kazumasa Oda(矢野顕子・小田和正)provided a wonderful duet for their cover of "Chuo Sen" in Yano's 26th album "Hajimete no Yano Akiko"(はじめてのやのあきこ...The First Akiko Yano). This version really brings relaxation, and it doesn't so much evoke images of train riding than it does bring images of sitting beside a placid pond. The album reached as high as No. 42.

Now I've found out that Yano had made an earlier cover of the ballad in her 13th album "Super Folk Song" from June 1992 which peaked at No. 10. The arrangement seems to be the same for both Yano takes.

To finish off, Miyazawa and Yano also performed a duet that nikala can tell you about.

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