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, March 21, 2012

Southern All Stars -- Itoshi no Ellie (いとしのエリー)

Another SAS classic, this was the band's 3rd single and the song that got them noticed as more than a novelty act. A bluesy ballad, Keisuke Kuwata's (桑田佳祐)gravelly voice was a good match. It was released in March 1979 and then became the final track on their 2nd album, "Ten Numbers-Carat" a month later. The single didn't get the top spot on the Oricon but it would become the most commercially successful hit for Kuwata and company until 1992; however, the band couldn't have been too sad about getting No. 2 on the weeklies and eventually No. 11 for the year. The album also peaked at No. 2 and became the 3rd-ranking album of 1979.

Another interesting story behind the naming of a song here. Originally, "Itoshi no Ellie"(Ellie, My Love) was to have been titled "Kokoro ni Tsubasa wo Motsu Otoko"(心に翼を持つ男....The Man Who Has Wings in His Heart). However, on one of the music ranking shows popular in the 70s and 80s, "The Best 10", it was related that the final title was derived from a shortening of the name of Eric Clapton, an artist that Kuwata greatly admired. In addition, it's been said that the lyrics may have incorporated impressions of Kuwata's sister, songwriter and lyricist Eriko Iwamoto(岩本えり子). When Kuwata himself was approached about these two theories on a radio show, he basically confirmed them and added that he just liked the sound of "Ellie". In any case, I think this title comes off a whole lot smoother than the clunky original.

In 1989, Ray Charles covered the song as "Ellie, My Love" and sang it as the jingle for a Suntory Whiskey commercial. It became a huge hit on the Oricon charts reaching No. 3, and became Charles' most successful song in Japan. Other Japanese artists, such as EPO and singer/saxophonist Ayaka Hirahara(平原綾香), have also covered it.

Just a bit of trivia here. A pun was made of the English title for "Itoshi no Ellie" when the hit American show, "Ally McBeal" arrived in Japan. Japan's title for it would be "Ally, My Love".

This is Ray Charles' rendition of the song here. It didn't make any huge dents on American Billboard but, still when I listen and see the video, he can do no wrong.


  1. itoshi no ellie se la escribio a mi mama Ely... que viajo a japon en esos años y lo conocio por casualidad...

    1. Hola, Alejandra.

      Desafortunadamente no puedo hablar español pero gracias por sus cometarios. ¿Escuchas mucha música japonesa ?


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