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, June 12, 2018

Douji Morita -- Sayonara Boku no Tomodachi(さよならぼくのともだち)

It seems as if I have been discovering about the deaths of famous Japanese people either through NHK or the login page of Mixi this past year. The latter was today's harbinger as I found out that reclusive Japanese singer-songwriter Douji Morita(森田童子)passed away on April 24 2018. Apparently JASRAC only found out itself just a few days ago.

Morita's most famous work is "Boku-tachi no Shippai"(ぼくたちの失敗)from 1976 which gained some new fame in the early 1990s as the theme song for "Koukou Kyoushi"(高校教師), the very dark high school drama that became the talk of the town in Japan (and one of the more popular shows that my university club had put on for viewing). JTM posted a detailed article on the show and the song back in 2013, and though I only saw glimpses of "Koukou Kyoushi", that haunting song by Morita stuck with me as something that combined innocence, tragedy and smiling through the tears.

JTM mentioned it in his article, but Morita's entry into music was sparked by the death of her friend at the age of 20. Her debut single was "Sayonara Boku no Tomodachi" (Goodbye My Friend) from October 1975 and was based on that friend. In it, her elegy includes snippets of what endeared him to her: his long hair and beard, his kind and beckoning gaze through a university coffee shop window, and the toothbrush and coat he had left behind when he was no longer able to return to his home.

I found "Boku-tachi no Shippai" very haunting and even scary as if the protagonist of the ballad were portraying the words with a wistful smile but blank, perhaps psychotic, eyes after suffering that final downturn. But with "Sayonara Boku no Tomodachi", I felt that there was a certain warmth in the sadness through Morita's reminiscings, helped by the cello that she may have been playing since it's been listed that that was one of her instruments.

Perhaps his death affected her very greatly since it's been said that all of her songs and albums including "Boku-tachi no Shippai" have tended to carry that very mournful tone. "Sayonara Boku no Tomodachi" was also on her debut album "Goodbye Goodbye"(GOOD BYEグッドバイ)which was released a month after the single. It peaked at No. 44 on Oricon.

Although the article through the Mixi website stated that her death was unknown, both her Wikipedia and J-Wiki articles mentioned that she had passed away from heart failure at the age of 66. Her obituary in the original Japanese can be seen here. Her true name has never been revealed.

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