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.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Billy Ban Ban/Mizue Takada -- Sayonara wo Suru Tame ni(さよならをするために)

A few months ago, I introduced the fraternal folk duo Billy Ban Ban(ビリーバンバン)via their late 2010s single, "Mata Kimi ni Koishiteru"(また君に恋してる), a ballad that also became further popularized by enka singer Fuyumi Sakamoto's(坂本冬美)cover version.

But I figured that I had heard about Billy Ban Ban for years and years, I should also write about their early era, and this was one of their big hits, "Sayonara wo Suru Tame ni" (To Say Goodbye) from February 1972. It stands out for an arrangement that is sprinkled with classical violin and characterized by those wonderful harmonies between Takashi and Susumu Sugawara(菅原孝・菅原進). At times, the ballad makes me think more of France than it does Japan.

As I said, "Sayonara wo Suru Tame ni" was a huge success for Billy Ban Ban as it hit No. 1 on Oricon and even became the 3rd-ranked single for 1972, selling approximately 800,000 records. That also meant that NHK came on calling and so the duo made their first appearance on the Kohaku Utagassen that year.

Ironically, though, there was some consternation over Billy Ban Ban's 10th single. At the time, the Sugawaras had been in a slump and they hadn't gotten that really big follow-up hit since their debut single, "Shiroi Buranko"(白いブランコ...White Swing)in 1969. But when "Sayonara wo Suru Tame ni" was placed onto their collective laps, younger brother Susumu initially refused to have anything to do with the recording because he had felt that it was a source of shame for folk singers having to sing something that was not one of their own creations. Certainly, "Sayonara wo Suru Tame ni" wasn't created by the brothers but by lyricist Koji Ishizaka(石坂浩二)and composer Koichi Sakata(坂田晃一).

Ishizaka's input was a bit of a surprise because I had been seeing him all these decades on TV as an actor and TV personality. Strangely enough, he was one of the stars on the NTV drama "San-chome Yon-banchi"(3丁目4番地...District 3, House Number 4)that had "Sayonara wo Suru Tame ni" as the theme song. Obviously, cooler heads prevailed and the show went on....much to their success.

According to J-Wiki, "Sayonara wo Suru Tame ni" has been covered by various artists in the years since its release, adding to its legacy. One example is Mizue Takada(高田みづえ)who covered it in her September 1983 album of cover songs, "Ano Hi ni Kaeritai"(あの日に帰りたい). Her version has a lighter pop touch although it still retains that drama of the original.

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