|I scream, but only on the inside.|
Not too long ago in late May, Ikuzo Yoshi's (吉幾三) new single "Michi" (written as "Jinsei", but read as "Michi" - the literal slogan of the song) came out on to the shelves, and with that also came promotional events. Looking at his schedule, I was absolutely stoked to see that he'd be coming to a couple of cities in Saitama, and was determined to not only attend it, but also get the meet and greet ticket that allows one to shake hands with him. As such, despite coming home at midnight after Friday night out with some friends a couple weeks back, I dragged myself all the way to Koshigaya city (an hour from the Kawagoe area) later that morning so that I'd be able to find a decent spot to watch him in action.
I wasn't sure how the meet and greet tickets were distributed and was rather worried about whether it'd be given out on a first come first serve basis, especially since I didn't reach Koshigaya Lake Town particularly early. As such, I was over the moon when it was given to me the moment I purchased the single. Of course, the multitude of Yoshi posters was much appreciated as well; one will go up on my wall next to Hiroshi Itsuki (五木ひろし) and Natsuko Godai (伍代夏子). Anyway, the crowd that gathered was quite a sizable one, which is quite the feat for an enka singer of the previous generation, and I was only able to get a spot at the 3rd floor. And interestingly enough, there were a couple of young fans like me too, so I didn't exactly stick out like a sore thumb in the sea of elderly.
When Yoshi finally appeared on stage (in a suit, not kimono), I have to say that the feeling was different than that of watching Kiyoshi Hikawa (氷川きよし) in 2016. It wasn't so much surreal as it was kind of emotional since he was one of the very first singers I had come to like when I first got into enka - even before Mae-Kiyo! And the fact that I actually like "Michi" just made the event even better.
As for the meet and greet, Yoshi looked great up close: his smile was absolutely adorable and genuine, and he is indeed tall. He also seemed pretty surprised when I told him my origins. But what made this event worth more than every yen that was lost for the journey there (and back), and every ounce of stress I felt up to that point, was being able to get a hug from him. Yes. A HUG. FROM YOSHI. Yeah, he was kinda sweaty, and that sweat smell was mixed with cologne,
Well, in spite of it being a few weeks since then, I'm still living that experience. And I have only like "Michi" even more than before - objectively speaking, of course. I love grand and manly enka, therefore I love "Michi" - by now, I know this is a fallacious statement, but I'm gonna violently throw academic writing out the window here. The powerful and dramatic melody tied to lyrics about the trials and tribulations of a man create the perfect intro to a dignified showa era gentleman who's been through it all. The growling backup vocals just makes it more regal - and sound like a Saburo Kitajima (北島三郎) song, for that matter. Looking at "Michi", it's your usual Yoshi song, but I love how the husky fellow delivers his words with such conviction and passion. Unfortunately, only the short version of the tune is available at the moment, but you can already hear the might of "Michi" just from this bit.
|How cool is that Group Sounds cover album poster??|
P.S. A week after the event, I presented my haul to Shiro Jiisan, who's song choice has been Yoshi-heavy ever since I mentioned my liking of the gruff-looking singer. I also raved about how cool "Michi" was, and that culminated in his attempt at it (saw it coming, but was surprised nevertheless). He'd no idea how it went, though, and I had to take over with one week's worth of knowledge. "Michi" is a difficult song, so I advise more than one week's worth of practice if you're keen on taking it on. That aside, Shiro-san's a riot.