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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Tulip -- Semete Saishuu Densha Made (せめて最終電車まで)

(cover version)

One of my fondest first reactions to Japan since coming here in June 2013 was starting to ride trains to work. I suppose I am just fascinated with trains since they remind me of elektrichkas from childhood, though I don't really go out snapping photos of different models. I just enjoy watching scenery pass by the window while listening to humming of the engine. Although GTA back home does have its GO network and VIA Rail connections, they are not that extensive, don't run frequently and are not used much for travel like in Europe and Asia. In Japan, on the other hand, you can access plenty of areas by rail, whether through Shinkansen, JR, local networks like Meitetsu and Kintetsu, and even old-fashioned locomotives that have become a novelty in remote regions of the country. But let's not get derailed from the main topic here. One major phenomenon surrounding trains in Japan is the last train of the day. Since my job is usually in the evening and sometimes finishes after 10 pm (you know, parents not picking up their children on time), catching a train home is a big deal for me, especially if my school is at a remote town with no other connecting transport available. And when I do board one of those last trains, it's usually crowded and smells of sake and beer, due to locals dropping by izakaya bars after work and staying there till the last minute.

The story in Tulip's (チューリップ) 1975 folk/rock piece “Semete Saishuu Densha Made” (せめて最終電車まで...Until the Last Train Calls) takes place at an izakaya during those late hours, but instead of an enkai or a casual drink with friends, it deals with a farewell meet-up that would conclude a regretful breakup. The band's leader and main vocalist Kazuo Zaitsu (財津和夫), who wrote and composed this song, sings about the protagonist's wish to stay with the girl he once loved until the last train takes her away. He is not interested in filler talk or acting drunk but just savoring those last moments together in peace. Being a fan of Tulip's and Zaitsu's work, I don't usually hear him use colloquial jargon in lyrics, but this time he gives an impression of a guy who's emotionally unsettled and just wants to be direct. Even the music is a bit grittier than the band's usual fare, who in the 70's normally emulated the mellower side of The Beatles sound. This is Tulip in the rock Beatles mode. And they did a good job at that. Even before I could understand the lyrics, I enjoyed this song simply for melancholic mood of it all and the images of a lonely night bar by the station that aurally pop up in the intro.

“Semete Saishuu Densha Made” was never released as a single, but it appears on the band's 6th studio albumNippon” (日本). The image in the video above that displays a red umeboshi (unfortunately, that video has been taken down) on a white plate is the album's cover. The song has become one of fan favorites, especially when performed live.

And last but not least, here's the full translated lyrics, courtesy of Found in Translation.

Do as you please
There's no happiness for people like us
If you think about it, we've been together forever
So long, that even the color of the tatami mat has faded

So at least stay with me until the last train calls
That's the last present you'll ever need to give to me

Let's not get stuck on dried up conversation
It'll only make the drinks taste worse
And even if we pretend to be drunk and laugh
Our faces just don't look right

So at least stay with me until the last train calls
That's the last present you'll ever need to give to me

What do you mean to be butting in now
Complaining of the cigarettes and drinking
The one I'm worried about is you
With no place to go on a late night like this

So at least stay with me until the last train calls
That's the last present you'll ever need to give to me


1 comment:

  1. There is something somewhat Takuro Yoshida and Off Course about this song....very appealing, especially with the refrain.

    I'm not sure about in your neck of the woods, but in Tokyo, the sage advice there was trying not to be on the JR Yamanote Loop's final train of the night on Fridays. Apparently, bodily fluids are a LOT more in evidence. :)


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