International Sad Hits Volume 1

I stumbled over this CD a few weeks ago, and immediately ordered it from some second-hand dealer in the US: International Sad Hits – Volume 1: Altaic Group. Four artists from different countries (2x Japan, Korea, Turkey) and very different music style, but connected in one thing: That they don’t fit into the happy-peppy culture of AKB48, JPOP, KPOP and the like, but singers and songwriters that probe the depths of sadness. With two of my favorite Japanese appearing in the list (Tomokawa Kazuki and Mikami Kan), there was no way I could not buy this CD.

international-sad-hits-volume-1

The four artist combined in this excellent CD are: Fikret Kızılok, a Turkish musician, singer and songwriter. Quoting from the pamphlet:

However, in 1983 Kızılok returned with one of his most important and best albums: Zaman Zaman (Time to time). […] These albums presented an alternative to the horrible pop scene emerging in Turkey — they criticized the political situation, the so-called intellectuals, and the pop stars.

The Korean artist is 김두수 (Kim Doo Soo), who was the great surprise of the CD for me. The sadness and beauty that is transmitted through is music is special. The pamphlet of the CD states:

The strictness of his home atmosphere suffocated him, and in defiance against his father he dropped out, and walked along the roads. He said later that, “Hatred towards the world, and the emptiness of life overwhelmed me. I lived my life with alcohol every day.”

After some problems due to political crisis, and fierce reactions to his song “Bohemian” (included) made him disappear into the mountains for 10 years, only to return with even better music.

The third artist is one of my big favorites, Tomokawa Kazuki (Official site, Wikipedia) from Japan. I have written often about Tomokawa, but found a very fitting description in the booklet:

Author Tatematsu Wahei has described Tomokawa as “a man standing naked, his sensibility utterly exposed and tingling.” It’s an accurate response to a creativity that seems unmediated by embarrassment, voraciously feeding off the artist’s personal concern.

The forth artist is again from Japan, Mikami Kan, a well known wild man from the Japanese music scene. After is debut at the Nakatsugawa All-Japan Folk Jamboree in 1971, he was something like a star for some years, but without a record deal his popularity decreased steadily.

During this period his songwriting gradually altered, becoming more dense, surreal and uncompromisingly personal.

Every song on this CD is a masterpiece by itself, but despite me being a great fan of Tomokawa, my favorite is Kim Doo Soo here, with songs that grip your heart and soul, stunningly beauty and sad at the same time.

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さよなら

さよならの詩

生も死もひとつのブランコの分岐点において ゆらゆらそのゆれをほほえんで見ているしかないのですね。

桜の国の散る中で死人の口がうたうたう 天国と地獄はよく似てる。

太陽の光を見えなくても、前向きにしないといけないけど。。。

雲の浮ついた行き先と気にしながら歩く覚悟の寂寥が今揃って火を噴く 足跡のない雲道を黒馬の群れが突き進んでゆくで。

頑張ろう。

友川かずき、ありがとう。

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友川かずき:未発表ライブ

やっと手に入った:友川かずきの未発表ライブ、10枚組BOX。今年の1月初めて友川氏をライブを見聞いた。彼のライブ・ペルフォーマンスは素晴らしかったから、他のライブを聞きたかった。いつも東京か大阪の方なので、出席は大変難しい。そのかわりに、10枚組ライブのみ発表を買った。
Tomokawa-Live-Box

曲もちろん、CDと箱のデザインも特別だ。一枚づつ友川が書いた絵に飾られていた。レコードも紙ケースも絵を見せている。添え物にとして、A3のサイズの絵も加えられている。とっても豊かな箱だ。
Tomokawa-Live-Content

入っているCDは

  • DISC 1 京都市立芸大 1985年11月24日
  • DISC 2 早稲田大学 1989年
  • DISC 3 マンダラII 1989年4月6日
  • DISC 4 友川&トシ マンダラII 1991年7月15日
  • DISC 5 銀座ケルビーム 1992年12月1日
  • DISC 6 酒遊舘 1993年10月2日
  • DISC 7 新宿Galeria Q
  • DISC 8 スターパインズカフェ 2009年12月12日
  • DISC 9 ベストセレクト ライン音源集
  • DISC 10 渋谷アピア ピンマイク音源集

これからまた家に沢山の友川を聞かせられている (笑)

曲の列挙とケースの写真はここへ

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Tomokawa Kazuki – Runaway Lad (友川かずき・家出青年)

vengeance-bourbon_tomokawa-kazukiDuring the live concert of Tomokawa Kazuki I attended last weekend, one of the songs caught my attention – it was the song Runaway lad (家出青年). He spoke a lot about (against) atomic reactors, and this song carries his ideas.

Listening to this song the first time at the concert, it gave me the shivers, reading the lyrics, the shiver continues, and seems not to end. Music you will not hear on NHK, critical voices are shutting down in this country. We have to learn “to say no” (quote from the song).

Read on for the official translation. Continue reading

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友川かずき・復讐バーボン

vengeance-bourbon_tomokawa-kazuki今晩大阪のJanus友川かずきの「復讐バーボン」のリリース・パーティーに参加した。最近友川の音楽をよく聞いて、だんだんすごき好きになった。今日初めてライブに観る事ができた。友川かずきはもう40年位歌っているのに、自分の友達の間に誰も彼を知らなかったから、一人で大阪へ演奏を聞きに行った。新しいCDをまだ聞いていないけど、ライブの曲は友川ぽかったと思う。

1950年に生まれた友川かずき氏はまだすごく強く歌って、曲の間色な話した。話題は大阪のうどんと原発だった。曲にも、ステージの話にも、強い意見を述べる事が嫌いじゃないみたいから、あまり日本人ぽくないと思う。

今日色な歌を歌って、新しいCDの歌も、有名な歌も、面白いミクスだった。僕が大好きな曲も聞いた:サーカス桜の国の散る中。一人は引いていない、今晩永畑雅人(Piano, Accordion, Mandolin)、石塚俊明(Drums)、ギャスパー・クラウス(cello)と共に素晴らしい演奏を聞かせた。

tomokawa-norbert演奏後CDを買った観客はそれぞれ友川氏が書いてとサインされた絵をもらった!嬉しい!僕のはこれだ。

観客も結構面白かった。ちょっとワイルドの感じの人が多い。ビックリしたのは、若者もいっぱい来たよ。いつも「友川の音楽はお爺さんのだ!」と言われたけど、演奏でその感じ全くなかった。他の驚いた事は、僕以外の外国人が2人だった。

残念な事が一つだけある:友川氏の歌詞本を持って、サインをいただけると思ったのに、演奏の後その機会がなかった。残念だ。

やっぱり大阪へ行ったよかった!もしかしたら来週の東京の演奏へも行くかもしれない。

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Tomokawa Kazuki – Within the Country of Falling Cherry Blossoms (友川かずき・桜の国の散る中を)

tomokawa-sakuranokuniAnother one of the sad and powerful songs of Tomokawa Kazuki (Wikipedia). The song Within the Country of Falling Cherry Blossoms which also gave the title of the album. A strange interlude between sweet children voices and more-than-normal crying like crazy Tomokawa. It (probably) recounts the story of a father going (nearly) crazy over the loss of a newborn.

I heard this song long time ago at the house of a friend in Shiga-ken, and since then tried to understand it. Most Japanese I asked for translation covered their ears, they didn’t want to hear this song at all. I was baffled – what can be so bad that I don’t want to hear it. I even went so far in buying a book of lyrics of Tomokawa Kazuki, only to find that this song is not included.

I finally found a Youtube video with the lyrics given, so I started to write them down, and also to put them into English words. Although not very poetic, it might allow non-Japanese speakers to understand the content.

The song, although 10min long, even after hearing it many times, never left me bored, it always gives me the shivers, and for long time I was pondering its meaning. I am not sure if this is the correct interpretation, but whatever it might be, it leaves an incredible impression on me. The feeling of the father as he runs around like a madman in the winterly scenery of Akita is so alive.

For Japanese text and my interpretation of translation, read on.

Continue reading

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Tomokawa Kazuki – Circus

I am sick of happy J-POP! I have have enough from girls in miniskirts jumping around to computer generated music! So I am starting a series on Japanese music which one will not hear in the radio, which one will have a hard time finding people listening too. It is music that carries melancholy, sadness, black humor, sarcasm, deep thoughts. I would compare this music to the one of Fabrizio de André, or Édith Piaf. Music that is alive, that comes from personal feelings.

Today’s song: Tomokawa Kazuki – Circus.

Continue reading

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