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, July 14, 2020

Hiroshi Itsuki -- Nagisa no Onna(渚の女)

I was watching a recent episode of "Chiko-chan ni Shikarareru"(チコちゃんに叱られる!...Don't Sleep Through Life), that hit NHK information variety show starring the all-knowing 5-year-old Chiko-chan, and none other than enka legend Hiroshi Itsuki(五木ひろし)was one of the guests, albeit remotely due to the pandemic. And one of the questions posed by the CG girl was "Why do people put their hands in their pockets?"

Chiko-chan was apparently more than happy to use Itsuki as an example since it seems that many of the covers for his singles feature the singer with his hands in his pockets such as the one for his February 2015 maxi-single "Nagisa no Onna" (Woman on the Beach). Incidentally, the answer, which of course followed Chiko's customary admonishment of not falling asleep at the wheel in terms of knowledge (no matter how arcane), was that putting one's hands in one's pockets had to do with physically assuaging doubt or anxiety. Not quite sure whether Itsuki in the cover above ever seemed especially anxious about something.

In any case, as for "Nagisa no Onna", it's a mix of enka and dramatic classy pop that reminds me of some of the material that his fellow enka singers brought out during the late 1970s going well into the 1980s. Perhaps I could even categorize it as a hybrid between the traditional genre and the Fashion Music that Mayumi Itsuwa(五輪真弓)and Asami Kado(門あさ美)sang.

The music was created by Itsuki with lyrics by the late Yoko Yamaguchi(山口洋子)who had passed away in 2014. According to the J-Wiki article for "Nagisa no Onna", Itsuki laid down the melody to the lyrics that Yamaguchi had written back in 1989 in tribute to the singer's hometown of Mihama-cho, Fukui Prefecture. And in fact, the number itself had been recorded in that year as the coupling song to Itsuki's single "Omokage no Gou"(面影の郷...Town of Shadows). On hearing about Yamaguchi's death in September 2014, he decided to release a new version of "Nagisa no Onna" and its coupling song was a new version of "Yokohama Tasogare"(よこはまたそがれ), arguably Itsuki's most famous classic and also another song for which Yamaguchi had provided the lyrics back in 1971.

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