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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.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Kozo Murashita -- Yume no Ato(夢の跡)


Kozo Murashita(村下孝蔵)...one of my touchstones, along with Iruka(イルカ), Yumi Matsutoya(松任谷由実)and Hi-Fi Set(ハイ・ファイ・セット)when it comes to my memories of the radio show "Sounds of Japan". Yup, the late folk-&-pop singer with the voice of velvet was a frequent presence in the program as some of his songs greeted my ears.

And so I'm very glad that I was able to finally acquire his April 1982 album "Yume no Ato" (Remains of A Dream) since a number of those songs that I heard on "Sounds of Japan" are part and parcel of this album. In fact, I've already spoken about three of them, the calming "Ashita Areba Koso"(明日あればこそ), "Yuko" and "Kagero"(ゆうこ・陽炎), the last two songs on opposites sides of the same single. By the way, all of the tracks on the album were written and composed by Murashita with Kimio Mizutani(水谷公生)handling the arrangement.


The title track launches things right off the bat, and sure enough, I remember it as yet another one of Murashita's songs that made it onto my old radio show. "Yume no Ato" is a bittersweet song about a man returning to his old town and his old flame's apartment after a year, and seeing that her name is no longer there. Perhaps the theme is "You can't go home again" but the melody is the bouncy and jaunty and folksy stream that I've usually characterized as a Murashita composition. Interestingly enough, the description of that town in the song reminded me of a lot of places such as Nagasaki for which I was translating travel articles about up to earlier this year.


"Rishuu"(離愁), which I heard for the first time when I got the CD, has been translated on jisho.org as "sorrow of parting". However, I would like to use an oft-used phrase and adopt it as the translation for this ballad "Parting Is Sweet Sorrow". A couple spends their last few hours and minutes together before they split apart forever. Murashita can really write up a setting in his lyrics. In this case, he includes a dog barking in the distance, the first train of the day arriving, a radio at low volume, and the scene of the man waving to his departing former girlfriend as a sign of friendship. All this happening while there is deep sadness welling up in the guy. I think a lot of us have been there.


"Shatou"(斜塔...Leaning Tower)is the big surprise. Yes, I do remember hearing this one, too, on "Sounds of Japan" but I had no idea it was a Murashita effort. I should have, since Murashita has a distinctive voice but for whatever reason, I couldn't remember. Probably the reason is that it's not only very genki (that "woo, woo, woo" in the intro, for instance...almost like something from a doo-wop group) but his lyrics are a celebration of living life large in the big city...namely Tokyo. I think it describes a fellow, maybe the singer himself, arriving in the metropolis and just soaking in all of the neon, the pay phones and the taxis milling about. I definitely can relate to that feeling of urban euphoria.


Listening to these concert versions of Murashita's songs has been quite revealing since he could have been singing in a huge stadium and yet his style and delivery were such that it sounded as if he were singing around a campfire to his closest friends. He had that intimate touch. That is certainly the feeling with the final track "Yuuyake no Machi"(夕焼けの町...Town in the Evening Glow)for which Murashita sings about the warmth and love for his hometown. As he expressed in the lyrics, it may not be rich in money but it's still rich in beauty. And once again, I heard this first on "Sounds of Japan".

So you can imagine that coming to "Yume no Ato" was like coming home again. A lot of good memories are imbued into this one album. For anyone who has enjoyed these songs, I would heartily recommend it. The album peaked at No. 49 on Oricon.


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