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, October 16, 2021

Masashi Sada -- Kakashi(案山子)/Sunday Park


I think that I may have heard this song first on an episode of singer-songwriter Masashi Sada's(さだまさし)NHK late-night program "Kon'ya mo Nama de Sada Masashi"(今夜も生でさだまさし...Masashi Sada Live Tonight As Well), and even for a Sada song, it was especially heartwarming due to the compassionate lyrics by the man himself.

"Kakashi" (The Scarecrow) was Sada's November 1977 single and in it, the protagonist apparently faces a scarecrow deep in winter snow and uses it as a representative for a younger sibling to ask them about how they are doing in their new life on their own in the big city. The usual questions of concern abound such as "Are you well?", "Have you made any new friends?" and "Do you need money?". It hit me personally since my parents probably wondered about those questions when I made my first foray to Japan after graduating from university and then when my brother struck out on his own some years later. I figure that when my niece decides to leave the flock someday, my brother and his wife may be posing those same questions.

"Kakashi" is slow and sweet and oh-so-sentimental with a touch of country although its official genre is New Music. Sada created the song out of a few situations in his life including a time when he and his younger brother, Shigeri(佐田繁理), were traveling by train from Oita to Fukuoka Prefectures and Masashi was looking out at the wintry landscape. He saw a scarecrow in the snow and felt sorry for it and matched that image with his first time on his own in the city. "Kakashi" sounds so caring that I wonder whether Sada ever came up with an answer song telling everyone that he was OK. 

The single peaked at No. 15 on Oricon, and it's been performed twice by Sada on NHK's Kohaku Utagassen in 1996 and 2006. It's treated as one of his trademark tunes alongside other hits such as "Kanpaku Sengen" (関白宣言). I gather that the story from the song was so evocative that Fuji-TV produced a two-hour drama special based on it in July 2011 starring Maki Horikita(堀北真希).

The B-side to "Kakashi" is "Sunday Park", and it's another mellow ballad but this time, it's more in the AOR style rather than folk or country. There's even a bluesy saxophone included to give it a bit more urbanity. Sada's lyrics are more melancholy here as the protagonist sits in a city park on a weekend feeling a bit sorry for himself over a recently lost romance while senior citizens sit around the trees and the kids are riding the swings. Along with the wonderful arrangement, the other thing that I noticed is how sustained Sada's voice is in the higher registers...perpetual falsetto, in a way.  

Both songs from the single were included in Sada's hit March 1978 album "Anthology"(私花集). His third solo album, it sold around 890,000 records as it struck No. 1 on the chart and became the 6th-ranked album of the year. In 1979, it hung around to rank in at No. 39. Getting back to "Sunday Park", according to the J-Wiki article for "Anthology", that particular song was apparently also based on something in the songwriter's life. Well, what is that adage? Write what you know.

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