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.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Izumi Yukimura -- Omoide no Waltz (想い出のワルツ)

Back in the days when my ears were merely beyond embryonic, songs like "Till I Waltz Again With You" were what I was first listening on the American side of things due to my Dad's collection of standards and what was still being played on US variety shows in the 1960s. Sid Proesen wrote and composed this old chestnut for Teresa Brewer in 1952, and it was a huge hit for her as it stayed on the charts for 22 weeks with 7 straight weeks at No. 1. If the account listed at Wikipedia is indeed true, then this could have been the song that sparked Elvis Presley into thinking "Hey, I might have a chance at this singing gig!"

Some months later across the Pacific, "Till I Waltz Again With You" also became a launching point for another veteran singer. In 1953, the song under the Japanese title of "Omoide no Waltz" (Waltz of My Memories) was the debut single for Izumi Yukimura(雪村いづみ). At the tender age of 16, she gave this slightly softer and jazzier version of the song in a voice that surprised the heck out of me since it sounded so much more polished than what a teenager would sound like behind a mike. And the above version is in the original English.

I gave a very slim background on the Tokyo-born Yukimura for my first article involving her so allow me to give some more details. Her childhood was sad in that her father who had been so much into music as a member of a Hawaiian band and introduced her to modern music committed suicide when his daughter was only 9 years old. In addition, her mother's company went bankrupt which meant that Yukimura had to drop out of junior high school despite her good grades. Most likely, because of her father's influence, she showed a desire to become a singer and so worked for free at a dance hall in Shimbashi called Florida in 1952. Later that year in May, she got a role at the Nichigeki Music Hall in a play as a cigarette girl and then made her professional debut as a singer for which she received her accolades.

Her debut with "Omoide no Waltz" got high praise and it also sold an amazing 200,000 records. Yukimura became so famous so quickly that she was even called The Cinderella of the Century. She was then placed with the other popular starlets Hibari Misora and Chieni Eri(美空ひばり・江利チエミ)to be seen as the unit San-nin Musume(三人娘...The Three Daughters). Some years later, she made her way to the United States where she appeared on the Dinah Shore Show on NBC and was the first Japanese entertainer to grace the pages of "LIFE" magazine.

The Japanese lyrics for Yukimura's hit cover version were provided by Seiichi Ida(井田誠一). Yukimura also appeared on the Kohaku Utagassen a total of 10 times with her most recent appearance to date in 1989 when he paid tribute to her late friend, Misora. However, none of those times featured her debut song.

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