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Archive for the ‘Lyrics’ Category

川の流れのように The greatest song of all time?

What is the greatest popular music song of all time?

Is it “She Loves You (Yeah,Yeah,Yeah)” by the Beatles? Could it be “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin? Is your choice “YMCA” by the Village People? Well, all of those are valid choices to be sure …

However, please allow me to make a case for “Kawa no Nagare no Yō ni”, which translates from Japanese as “Like the Waters of a River”.

The music was composed by Akrika Mitake with lyrics by Yasushi Akimoto. They composed this ballad for the famous Japanese enka singer Hibari Misora. The song was to be her last single, and she died shortly after it was released in 1989.

From Wikipedia:  “… was voted the greatest song of all time during a national poll in 1997 by NHK, with more than 10 million votes. It is often the song of choice for artists  performing live tributes to Misora.” According to linguistics blogger Larry Kenny “it is learned routinely by high school students in Japan.” and “The song embodies the very essence of enka, if not the very essence of the Japanese people.”  I would be able to agree with that, as it is a very moving song. Mr. Kenny has provided a great English translation, and has written a wonderful article about the song linked here.

Several famous singers have recorded the song. I am including a little YouTube playlist here.

As performed by Hibari Misora:

This recording is by Cantonese singer Teresa Teng.

Here is a version with American “soul” singer Diana Ross and opera singers Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. Dam!

How about this version by Mexican singer Mariachi Vargas?

You can probably find many others through various YuteTube links. If I was not tearing-up so much, I could probably practice the song with this karaoke:

Mr. Kenny also has created this version that [his singer Evan Ross] sings in English. Now the singing is not as “enka” as some others, I will admit, but [they have] created a very respectable, heartwarming rendition.  (Much better than I ever could.)

[Evan Ross] sings his beautiful translation of the lyrics in English. [Mr. Kenny] actually provides two English translations of the song in the article. One is a “literal” translation of the words from Japanese, and then he created another “non-literal”  descriptive version. Wow. Just wow. Mr. Akimoto’s original lyrics are so meaningful, so filled with eternal truths … that they may transcend language barriers and even create new meanings. The following is Mr. Kenny’s non-literal interpretation.

Like a dream, like a dream, passing day after day
down this long, narrow road I’ve been walking
If I turn, looking back I can see far away
the old town that I loved long ago.

Roads that wind and twist in every way,
Bumpy roads that have seen too many days
With no map to guide us, every path we cross in our lives,

Ah, just like the waters of a river, countless bygone days,
one by one how gently, how slowly they go,
Ah, just like the waters of a river, on unendingly,
into the sky painted colors of evening flow.

In our journeys and lives, though they start and they end,
still the road never stops, on forever,
as we reach toward a dream, making memories and friends,
we draw near the people who we love.

As the rain beats down upon our heads
and the mud covers all the road ahead
on we walk because soon a bright new day will come again

Ah, just like the waters of a river, slow and gracefully,
lay this body down, let them take me away,
Ah, just like the waters of a river, like the seasons flow,
as we wait for April sunshine to melt the winter grey.

Ah, just like the waters of a river, slow and gracefully,
lay this body down, let them take me away,
Ah, just like the waters of a river, on eternally
as we hear the rushing current flow out to the bay.

http://www.larrykenny.com/enka/kawa.php

I think the lyrics are especially poignant as Hibari Misora passed on soon after the song was released. The lyrics introduce imagery about the philosophy of life — by analogy — flowing like a river. It is nostalgic in that the singer/listener is looking back over their life, not with regrets but with the appreciation of a life that was lived. I have to wonder if she knew she was near the end of her life when she made those live performances. If she had no regrets, and had nothing but love at the end … well — it shows.

I hope you can find your own fluid meaning there.

Finally, “Kawa no Nagare no Yō ni” was also recorded by my favorite enka singer Iwasa Misaki. There are no [legit] music videos of Misaki-san’s recording on YourTube. There are even a few non-Misaki fakes out there! However, let me share this SoundCloud link to Miss Misaki’s great interpretation of the song.

Are you ready? Sitting down? Clasping the armrests? Tissue box nearby?

Wasamin’s version always turns me into a big, blubbering sack of protoplasm. If you enjoy it even half as much as I do, you can order the CD single from CD-Japan linked here. The song 川の流れのように is the third song (a second B-side?) of her three-track CD-Single of Gomen ne Tokyo. Note: Only the REGULAR edition CD-single has the song!

If you want one, I will buy you a copy!

Why not listen to some Enka music? … What feelings do the lyrics pull out of you, or what pictures from your life can you imagine?  … Try to observe nature as if it were a beautiful sound of a song … think of someone you loved … Think of your favorite memories of places you enjoyed … 

Find again what you love about your life. Enka.

Starlight: It took 28 lightyears for 川の流れのように to reach my world.

PS: What is your favorite all time song? You can list your choice in the comments below. If there is a YouFlube link for your favorite please provide that too.

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“… I’m certain as a lost dog … pondering a sign post…”

… Which is probably another way of being … not very certain?

Those words are a nice lyrical image from the song I would like to share today —  “I Want to Vanish” by Elvis Costello. The version provided here by a YouTube user is a clip from his special concert called “The Case for Song”.  Indeed it was a great VHS tape from the mid 1990s, however Netflix has the DVD if you are interested. Please let me know if you ever find it in a bargain bin.

The song is from his 1996 album “All This Useless Beauty” — one of my favorite records by him – (cough) — although this particular tune was NOT one of the ones which I liked on the album (The full album is linked here). I usually would skip this particular song. There were others — Distorted Angel, You Bowed Down and the title track which I liked a lot more.

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The other day however, I caught the song, thought about it and … well … I finally got it. (Denny slaps head.) My friends know that I can be that oblivious, insensitive lout.

Notable here is how Costello’s (or McManus’) voice breaks at various points during the song. One of the enjoyable attributes about Elvis’ (i.e. Declan’s) many emotional songs is that “his voice always breaks at just the right time.”  Unfortunately, in the year’s following the this album, especially in the late 2000’s his voice started to become ALL BREAK. His recent records all sound terrible. His singing has gotten pretty bad, and the songwriting is just not there anymore*. I used to have a lot of respect for this washed-up, overly opinionated, fat bastard, but he has made it rather difficult in recent years.

… oh … Ahem … Yes, I can be an insensitive lout … but from where, and from who — did I learn that? Another coincidence — I actually owned the same polka-dot pattern shirt he wears here. Some amazing toss of the cosmic dice. Wait … I wonder if there is such a thing as a “cosmic” tossed salad? No matter … and yes, I have digressed, as per usual.

The studio version (linked here) is a little clearer, but I prefer the more emotive live performance above, mistakes and all.

If you like puzzling song lyrics, please enjoy “I Want to Vanish”

I want to vanish
This is my fondest wish
To go where I cannot be captured
Laid on a decorated dish
Even in splendor this curious fate
Is more than I care to surrender
Now it’s too late

Whether in wonder or indecent haste
You arrange the mirrors and the spools
To snare the rare and precious jewels
That were only made of paste

If you should stumble upon my last remark
I’m crying in the wilderness
I’m trying my best to make it dark
How can I tell you I’m rarer than most
I’m certain as a lost dog
Pondering a sign post

[Chorus]

I want to vanish
This is my last request
I’ve given you the awful truth
Now give me my rest

To leave on a positive note, here is a non-Costello version of his song sung live by what looks to be a high school band in this 2015 YT video.  This is a rather obscure song choice for cute teenage girls to sing.

Really odd.  I can verify that in the 1970s and 80s, being an Elvis Costello fan was a very effective girl repelent . Admittedly, not as foul of a girl repellent as being a Star Trek fan however. The girls participating here could not be any more endearing. I have to wonder how they were put up to it. Perhaps their music teacher was a Costello aficionado … or maybe they just lost a bet. At any rate … good work kids! Better you should bring the lyric sheet next time though.

————————————————————————————————–

* or perhaps I have just moved on to Hanako Oku to take care of me emotionally. She looks better in the glasses anyway.

ho glasses dark de7f00abf46a102b8f44db3c07e8f963

Starlight: Giving you “the awful truth” for a thousand days now. 

Pokémon Nicknames: Natu and Xatu

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Natu ( in Japanese: ネイティ  “Naty” ) is a dual-type Pyschic and Flying Pokémon. It is known as the “Tiny Bird Pokémon”.

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Is the bird really the word?

Natu evolves into Xatu (in Japanese: ネイティオ  “Natio” ) at level 25, where it remains a Psychic/Flying type. (There is no Mega-Evolution.) Xatu is known as the “Mystic Pokemon”.  Thus I like to teach it Psychic, Ghost, Dark or Fairy special-attack type moves.

pokedex_178___xatu_fr_by_pokemon_fr-d4uokmv

Both Natu and Xatu are stylized with colors and graphics similar to American Indian iconography and themes. In fact, Xatu looks somewhat like a teeppee (tipi) tent, or wigwam.

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Natu is a cute little bird so it deserves a cute name. “Teepee” or “Tipi” might be good to go along with the theme. Maybe “Psy-Chick” for females?

natu IMG_0215

I called one Natu “Nanu Nanu” after the catch phrase of the 1970s TV character “Mork”, played by the late actor Robin Williams.

nanu nanu one giphy

natu IMG_0216

“Nanu Nanu” was a Williams ad-lib, but it became to be known as a goofy but mystical way of saying either “hello” or “goodbye” every episode. (Some fans have equated the phrase with Star Trek’s Mr. Spock saying “Live Long and Prosper” as a mystical hello/goodbye greeting.)

Another name I like to use for little bird Pokémon is “Little Wing”. This name does sound a little like a Native American name … I use it because of the classic Jimi Hendrix song “Little Wing”.  

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“When I’m sad, she comes to me …  

          With a thousand smiles, she gives to me free …”

The song (lyrics linked here) has been covered by all reputable blues bands, but you will not find the Hendrix original version on YouTube (cough …R.M.I.).

natu IMG_0210

Other Indian-themed names are “Wigwam, “Wompum, or “Peyote.  Of course you can have a mystical experience with peyote. I discourage using “squaw” as part of the name (“Psycho Squaw“) for example, because the word is sometimes used as a slur. Of course, these days using ANY Native-American word might be trouble … or taken the wrong way … if you ever  have to deal with the mentally-deficient  politically correct ninnies who dominate college campuses.

Xatu can learn the TM “Fly”.  My name “Flying Luck” is based on the phrase “I don’t GIVE a flying luck!”  I have also used names like “Flying Jung” a play on the “Dying Young” film and the famous psychologist Carl Jung. Since Xatu is a “Mystic Pokémon” why not name one “Mystic Pizza” after that famous Julia Roberts movie?

I like to think that these Pokémon cosplayers would like to learn some mystic moves with me.

I like to name them “Arizona” because the coloration is like the classic “SouthWest” type I suppose. I also use the name “Anasazi” after the southwestern American native civilization which mysteriously disappeared.

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On that note, you could name the little bird “Pueblo” ,”Adobe” or “Stucco“.

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On the Name Rater’s site (he is angry because of YOU) I saw a couple of interesting nicknames. “The Word” (because the bird is the word!) for Natu. Also for Xatu, the names “Tomahawk” — another Indian/bird reference,  and “Psyclone” which is an appropriate air name because Xatu is a flying type. Thanks for the ideas NR, I might name one “Tommy Hawk“.

I named a Xatu which was evaluated with “outstanding potential” the term “Dreamtime“. Actually, the dreamtime is more of an Australian Aborigine phrase for the mystical experiences and visions one may have. The term also correlates with the mystical religious experiences one may have in a sweat lodge.

cosplay 3b3a8cb9e855bfb9ba19609327b09c29

During my dream-time I want to see a beautiful vision like her!

Ha! “Xatu the Future” (episode linked here).

What is the name for your mystic little bird? Please comment!

References:

http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Main_Page

http://www.serebii.net/

All images are just snagged from the Inter-Webs public domain. All credit for the art goes to the original starving artists. The models (ahem …) can come and see me to work out a payment.

Denny Re-Blogs: Genki de Itene — Oku Hanako – Chinese to English

utakata CD cover

“Genki de Itene” is a track on this album. Image belongs to the artist and record company.

Dear Readers:

Please visit fellow WP Blogger Edward on his site:

https://okuhanakochinesetoenglish.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/genki-de-itene/comment-page-1/#comment-93

He always does a great job translating Hanako Oku lyrics.

Those who follow my blog know that I am a big fan of Oku Hanako, who I term “The Little Great One”.

Oh, what the little lady has done for me … Please enjoy Edward’s post — and follow him if you are a fan of Japanese music!

I added a few video links on the comments section of his blog. Better watch them quick.

Denny 

元気でいてね (Genki de Itene) · 要好好的过喔 · Stay Well In: [Album] Oku Hanako BEST -My Letters- – CD 2 track 14 [Album] Utakata – track 13 [Album] Kimi no Egao -Smile Selection- – track 7 English This is wrong! Who decided this? A round object might look rectangular from another point of view It […]

via Genki de Itene — Oku Hanako – Chinese to English

More images of Hanako Oku can be found on my Pinterest site for her linked here.

IDOL HISTORY 101 – Part 27: Onyanko Club’s controversial song.

Before there was AKB48, the groups’ boss Mr. Yasushi Akimoto produced another group of young idols! Onyanko Club was popular in the 1980s. The group had 52 members, and arguably became the template for many idol groups which followed.

I stumbled upon this video posted by a user on YouTube, and wanted to share it. The song is “Sailor fuku wo nugasanaide”.  It stirred a little controversy back then, as you will see here —  teenage girls are singing about their sexuality. Hmmm … Young girls singing songs with suggestive lyrics – who would of thunk it? The song is actually kinda innocent by today’s standards.

Parents: Teenagers really do not think about sex and discuss it with their friends do they? There is an academic point in there to discuss I suppose. I like the clip because it is just so damn goofy. What a time -warp. It is yet another reason why I think Japanese popular culture can be at times so darn cute  … from my  foreign perspective. It is all starlight to me remember. If you are fan of Japanese music, this clip it should be an important part of idol history. The video is sub-titled in English for your pleasure …

(Spoiler: Don’t worry grown-ups — it all ends all OK. The protagonist really does not do it.) 

AKB48 paid tribute to Onyanko Club and covered the song. Thank you YouTube user. Note that it is an older AKB show clip – when the group was at its peak … (cough) when Acchan was still the center. So many of my old favorites were there — Shinoda-san and Tomochin, etc. I’d rather not get into a pissing contest as to whether the group is now past their peak – just enjoy the nostalgia.

Nostalgia embedded in nostalgia perhaps!

Starlight: This video will disappear in 5 … 4… 3… 2…

“… I just can’t contain, this feeling that remains …”

“There she goes …”

original version

Well I am feeling no pain. Last month I had to replace a body part which was no longer functioning as it should. Oh? … well, just a knee. So yes, I am part robot now. I am happy to report that my surgery was successful and my rehab is way-ahead of schedule. I will finally be able to start that Major League baseball career! I will be able to — not just chase after Sakura Miyawaki — I will be able to catch her as well.

sakura and haruka running zKH5Kik

I might need a few more weeks rehab before I can catch Harrupi however!

I owe it all to a certain lady. Am I rambling? It may be because of the medication. I was prescribed Oxicontin for my pain. I told my doctor “Pain pills —  no way – I can work through pain.” I never liked taking pain pills. In general I am anti-drug use, and I always thought these things were over-prescribed. Plus, I thought I would be able to work through the pain. Turns out I needed them.

… and Oh, it has been wonderful. One tablet relieves my pain. Two tablets are a party. Lady Oxi as I will call her, provides the relief I need as I am doing my rehab exercises, but there is one other unexpected benefit she provides. She makes me happy. I mean, er… the pills adjust my mood.

She makes me happy  — and I was not expecting that. How are you doing today? Have I told you how great you look these day?  I think that you are a really cool person. I feel great just being around a friend like you.

I want to share a great song with you today. The song is “There She Goes” by The La’s. The song is about a girl I guess, but it could just as well be about how I feel about Lady Oxi. When she touches me, there is a noticeable difference in sensation … there she is now …welcome back … it has been hours and I have been missing her terribly … no one does it for me like her …

Please enjoy the music video below for this addicting little song. Lyrics are linked here.

There was also a good cover version by the band Sixpence None The Richer. They also do a great version of the song (linked here), but the music video is terrible, and kills my mood.

Would you like to learn how to play it on guitar? Please enjoy this guitar tutorial video Bob (and everyone).

I must feel good, because I don’t mind this exercising. It has been great talking with you. You are a super, super person! You know I love you. Give me a hug before you go.

Starlight: Yikes! There are only 8 tablets left!

 

Denny’s Classroom — Two centuries of British songwriting, Part 27: “Bodies” by the Sex Pistols

british song

Good morning class. Today in “Two Centuries of British Song and Poetry” we travel back to the late-twentieth century. We will study the origin and development of  “punk rock” theory. (Denny rustles lecture notes on the podium.) We will celebrate and explore the musical and lyrical genius of Mr. Johnny Rotten and Mr. Sid Vicious (now deceased). The song is “Bodies” from the “Never Mind The Bollocks” album by The Sex Pistols, released in October 1977.

Abortion is a serious and controversial topic. There are relatively few pop songs which cover the issue however. Who else to explore this debate than with these preeminent and prototypical late 1970s punk rock icons? (Ahem.) Perhaps it is best if we play the song first. Please hold your discussion points until AFTER the song plays. (Denny senses some distracted students.) The lyrics are here for you to follow along with.

She was a girl from Birmingham
She just had an abortion
She was a case of insanity
Her name was Pauline  (she lived in a tree)

She was a no one who killed her baby
She sent her letters from the country
She was an animal
She was a bloody disgrace!

Body! I’m not an animal
Body! I’m not an animal

Dragged on a table in factory
Illegitimate place to be
In a packet in a lavatory
Die little baby screaming!!!
Body! screaming fucking bloody mess
Not an animal
It’s an abortion 

Body! I’m not animal!
Mummy! I’m not an abortion!

[Spoken]
Throbbing squirm,
gurgling bloody mess
I’m not a discharge!
I’m not a loss in protein!
I’m not a throbbing squirm!

Fuck this and fuck that —
Fuck it all and fuck a fucking brat
She don’t wanna baby that looks like that
I don’t wanna baby that looks like that
Body, I’m not an animal
Body, an abortion

Body! I’m not an animal
Body! I’m not an animal
An animal
I’m not an animal…..
I’m an abortion…..

Mummy! UGH!

We should also enjoy this lovely live version from way back in 1978. This really really takes me back to my youth. I’m the guy with glasses in the third row. 

The lyrics – which are tame by today’s standards – were quite shocking in 1977, as were the Sex Pistols, as was British punk rock music in general. The protagonist of the song is an unborn fetus. It pleads to its insipid mother that “I am not an animal”. To no avail. It dies a “screaming bloody gurgling mess” during an illegal abortion. If you watch the live version, note that at one point Johnny Rotten twists his microphone cord around his neck to symbolize the abortion procedure against the unborn child. Sid Vicious was cutting himself on stage by that time, so the extra blood further illustrates the poetic complexity. The last lyric line is simply “Ugh” — the death of the would-be human baby.

rotten twisting abortion

What would the world have been like if the mother of John Lydon had an abortion?

The music is exemplary punk rock music. When I young musicians, and they sometimes tell me that “the Pistols” are one of their influences. I always say “Do you know what the Sex Pistols were really like?!?” It is true, their album is full of what would now be considered punk clichés. They invented the punk rock standard.  (I suggest that readers view the interesting mocumentary “The Great Rock-and-Roll Swindle” for a fuller story.)

The lyrics do open up a number of questions of course …

Now, I know what you are thinking: How right-wing reactionary they must have been …  writing an anti-abortion song. Of course, the Sex Pistols were anything but conservative – they were very much the opposite actually .. despite the Pro-Life message of this song.

20 week fetus

The 20 week fetus: I’M NOT AN ANIMAL!

I think the reason why they presented this horror show was to shake up the complacency of British society. Abortions by this time were legal, although restricted, in Britain. Middle and upper class British women having abortions would just be another thing for Mr. Rotten to be critical of. He would also be critical of “all the bloody starvation and oppression” in the world as well.  The ant-abortion statement here, I believe, is just another way for him to say “Fuck you England – you’re stupid”. Whatever is the norm, he would seek to tear down. Anything against the British majority — which would make him correct only 80% of the time! (Denny looks out at students to see if anyone is challenged by his last statement).

“God save the Queen – because this is a FASCIST regime … there is no future for you …. and England’s dreaming …”.

(cough). Oh, that one is actually another song for perhaps another lesson. It is thematic of the entire record however. (Denny desperately trying to get a student reaction.)

Now would that also be true for …

(Bell rings: Sound of students packing, getting up, leaving, talking.)  … As a reminder … (Denny speaking over the clamoring sounds of students packing)  … class … please post your comments to the course message board by Monday at 9:00 am. Oh, and I will NOT be in my office on Tuesday … but I will hold an extra hour after my regular office hours on Thursday.

Starlight: 1977 … Hmm … For right or for wrong … the Sex Pistols and punk rock were part of my transitioning to reject drugs, my neighborhood, my school, and my hometown.

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