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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.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Hachiro Kasuga -- Naa Hacchan (なァ八ちゃん)

"I Love You Madam"; Captain Hachi; Guitar Hachi

Did I wait till 8th August 2018 to do this? Yes, I did. And all that waiting for the sake of my nutso fascination for reiteration in cases like this. Here we go again.

As you can see, quite a while back I wrote about Hiroshi Itsuki's (五木ひろし) "Chikumagawa" (千曲川) on 5th May, because Go-gatsu Itsuka no Itsuki (Itsuki of May 5th), and I derived great amusement with the multitude of fives present. So I thought having a Hachi-gatsu no Hacchan (Hacchan of August) would provide me with just as much joy, just that this time it's the number eight, hence my year long wait to put this out (you read right, one year).

That said, since I put 5 pictures of Itsuki for "Chikumagawa", would you like to take a guess as to how many photos of Hachi I'm putting here? Yeah, I did go back to Marubell, and this time I got the bromide I'd been vying for since my first visit, the one on the extreme left - t'was only available the second time round; I call it the "I Love You Madam" shot. Also, I got Captain Hachi, and my new favourite on the extreme right which I simply call Guitar Hachi.

Anyway, coming back to the topic at hand, "Naa Hacchan" was one of Hachiro Kasuga's (春日八郎) singles from 1962, and the main draw of the song is that not only is the singer's name Hachiro, but so are the composer's and the lyricist's - Hachiro Matsui (松井八郎) and Hachiro Sato (サトウハチロー). Indeed it's a Hachi song! Oh, if only I knew what date it was released on!

"Naa Hacchan" comes in at the 18:17 mark.

I first came across "Naa Hacchan" around the time when I was trying to sample more of what Kasuga's discography had to offer, and this funny little title with one of his nicknames caught my attention while I was digging around through YouTube. Though not exactly what I was used to hearing from Hachi at the time, I felt that what I heard did match the vibe of its name: a swinging jazz ditty with a playful touch; I can almost imagine Kasuga swaying side to side in the Itsuki way! ...Well, almost. Hachi didn't move all that much on stage. But "Naa Hacchan" here was so catchy it latched onto my brain in no time.

Original "Naa Hacchan".

However, I soon realised that what I was listening to was actually a live remake from his 1964 "Hana no Stage" (花のステージ) concert, wherein whatever hits he had then were rearranged into jazzy/pop numbers, when I visited another video with the same song. The difference between this and the "Hana no Stage" take was so jarring, with it having a considerably slower tempo and a strong old-fashioned Japanese flavour all the more accentuated by the strong backing vocals at certain bits of the song; it was as enka as it gets. Eventually I learnt that this enka-y version was actually the original, and admittedly I was disappointed because the fun and romping number I fell in love with was actually just a live and one-time remake of a typical enka tune. I wouldn't say I outright dislike it - I don't - but I just feel that it's a bit draggy for my liking... sorry Matsui.


Moving on, to me, this contrast in musical arrangements in the original and "Hana no Stage" version really changes the image of the lyrics, which I would say is about fancying the idea of getting an escort to accompany one when lonely (probably the Hacchans discussing amongst themselves for all I know). In the jazzy rendition, the image my mind conjures up is of a Hacchan in a snazzy suit with a lady in one arm strolling the streets and barhopping in an uptown, more westernized part of Tokyo like Ginza or Akasaka from dusk to dawn. The enka one, on the other hand, being more traditional and languid, has me imagining the Hacchan in a kimono receiving sake from his companion in a quiet, cigarette smog-filled izakaya in some uramachi of Asakusa.

Thinking of the difference in this way, it makes me appreciate the original "Naa Hacchan" a little more, but I still much prefer the 1964 live version.

I'm sure Guitar Hachi is from the same shoot as the one 2nd from
the left. Iwouldlikemorefromthatphotoshoot,please.  

P.S. I found it very amusing that I have exactly 8 Hacchan bromides in my collection at the moment. I didn't even realise it until I counted them for this write-up - 5 from the first trip, 3 from the second. That adds up nicely, naa, Hacchan?

3 comments:

  1. Hello, Noelle.

    Well, as they say, the best things happen to those who wait, and so certainly the wait to create "Naa, Hacchan" must have been well worth it. And considering the three Hachiros involved here: 8 8 8...I think that's a very popular number in Chinese culture, I believe?

    Your comparison on the jazzy and enka versions of "Naa, Hacchan" duly illustrates how a song can "feel" different just through changing the arrangement. As with you, the jazzy take had me thinking of Kasuga wearing a 1920 straw boater hat and a tuxedo while striking up that Dixieland band. Meanwhile, the original enka version had me thinking of the usual cherry blossoms wafting over a red arched bridge somewhere in Japan.

    Although I like both versions, if I had to choose, I would also have to go with the jazzy cover.

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    Replies
    1. Hello there, J-Canuck.

      Yes, the wait was worth it. :) And you're right in saying that 8 is a popular number in Chinese culture. I wasn't thinking it when doing this, but 8 has a pretty big significance to Chinese people because it's said to be a prosperous number - if I'm not mistaken, 8, when said in Chinese dialects like Hokkien and Cantonese, sounds like the word for "prosper". As such, local lottery cash prizes or lottery-related stuff tend to boast the number 8 - e.g.$8888 cash prize... Frankly $10000 sounds more appealing to me haha!

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    2. Yes, having been raised in Canada all these years, I like totally round numbers as well. :) Speaking of which, I have to check out my weekly lottery numbers.

      Anyways to quote a famous Vulcan, "Live long and 888".

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