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 21, 2020

Jiro Sugita -- Hitori ni Nareba(ひとりになれば)

I mentioned this in passing in my article for Akiko Kobayashi's(小林明子)"Kokoro no Honoo"(こころの炎), her cover version of "Somewhere Out There", the poignant duet between Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram for the 1986 animated movie "An American Tail". Although the single was released with just Kobayashi singing the tune, she actually did do a duet version of "Kokoro no Honoo" with singer-songwriter Jiro Sugita(杉田二郎)at one of her concerts which was recorded on her "In Concert ~ A Changing".

That was actually the first time that I had ever heard of Sugita, and from his performance of the song with Kobayashi, my impression was that he was more of a jazzy crooner like Akira Fuse(布施明). Little did I know at the time that he was responsible for the 1971 folk hit "Senso wo Shiranai Kodomo Tachi"(戦争を知らない子供たち)when he was in his folk group Jiros(ジローズ).

Last night, when I was listening to the New J Channel radio, I heard this haunting and attractive song from Sugita's first solo album "Apartment 1109"(アパートメント 1109)which was released in October 1972. "Hitori ni Nareba" (If I Were Alone) struck me with a woman's dreamy reprise of the title that swept through my headphones as Sugita gave his gentle view on loneliness. Written by Kohei Oikawa(及川恒平)and composed by the singer, "Hitori ni Nareba" has that folksy lilt but I think the melody even tilts a tad close to New Music or City Pop because I could envisage that individual young person making his/her way through life in the big city while cooped up in the danchi.

Although according to Sugita himself in the above concert video footage, it's Hiro Yanagida's band backing him up here, I read in his J-Wiki file that Off-Course(オフコース)had also been his backing group when they were still paying their dues. Regarding that video, it's just too bad that Sugita's live performance couldn't have that woman's haunting reprise included. For me, that's the secret sauce for "Hitori ni Nareba".

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