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A.B.C.D (1982)
lyrics: Yosui Inoue
music: Yosui Inoue

the happy A, the chatterbox B, my friends
the marked C, the deep thinking D, all of my friends
i give you the blues
the song that i’m singing is a blues
dancing, dancing, dancing alone
dancing, dancing, dancing alone

the smart A, the snobbish B, my lovers
the lying C, the partying too much D, all of my lovers
all of you are blues
the blues in my heart
dancing, dancing, dancing more
dancing, dancing, dancing more

not sure when i lost it
i myself have also escaped it, the sadness in the eyes
will always stay in my heart
the same eyes that breathe, that dream, that feel happy

the amazing A, the attractive B, my friends
the smiling C, the always calm D, all of my friends
i give you the blues
my last words are the blues
dancing, dancing, dancing alone
dancing, dancing, dancing alone
dancing, dancing, dancing MORE

.

This song is one that hits me right away as soon as I heard it.  I like repetition and a strong beat, in fact, the military style songs I used to listen to on repeat prior to this one was Lili Marlene sung in German (which was militant, not swing style) and Leo Marjane’s “Bei mir bist du schön.” The intro of this song reminded me of a Django Reinhardt recording of “Bei mir bist du schön” sung by Leo Marjane in the 30’s.  It seems like Sawada also shares my fascination with the French back in the 30’s, but I don’t know about Yosui Inoue.  My daughter said it sounded like “the ants go marching one by one.”  I thought of The Adams theme song.  I don’t know who came up with A.B.C.D’s arrangement. Here is Django Reinhardt & Leo Marjane’s “Bei mir bist du schön”

Reijin was in 1982.  This gem here is 1972.  He really likes this taboo stuffs doesn’t he…… And it won him his first big prizes, I’m a bit puzzled. But maybe I shouldn’t be, because he managed to cry while singing this song at least 2 times.

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Doesn’t he look like the crying Nam Goong Min 10 years ago?  Moving on.  Let me go look up who wrote the lyrics for this masterpiece first. Michio Yamagami. Don’t know him. The tune isn’t even pleasant. Let’s see who wrote it. Kunihiko Kase. Whut! He’s supposed to be good. Why oh why….. Whatever. The point is, Julie sung this song and rose to fame in his early days.  I firmly believe it was his performance that gave any value to this crazy melodramatic song. I mean at least Goddess and Reijin were catchy, Goddess even had delicious lyrics. This tune is like crying over a dead cat.  I just bought my first Sawada record. It’s a 1976, I’m praying this song won’t be in there, but my hope looks slim.

許されない愛 – Forbidden Love (1972)
lyrics: Michio Yamagami
music: Kunihiko Kase

though it’s impossible to forget you
i still want to forget you
when we met it was already too late
after the fire of love burned
there was only ashes of despair left
i hold on to it tightly
and will continue to live on
but if you were here
if you were next to me, I would
run immediately to you and embrace you
i want to take you and run away

though it’s impossible to forget you
i still want to forget you
no one is willing to forgive this fated love
if you have a place you can go back to
then i can only pray for your happiness on my own
but if it’s the love that will consume your life
then i will be right by your side
and steal a place [for us] to run away

.
Which version of this hot mess should i feature first? Maybe his brown on bronze 1972 Kohaku performance?  I think he didn’t cry there but he looked damn near.

The reason why I brought this song up today is because of the next video. He won 2 prizes for it in 1972, “Japan Records Award” for his mad singing skillz and the “Japan Cable Award” for …. mad singing skillzzzz again.  The clip with him in an all pink suit (not sure if it’s his favorite princess pink suit or he actually went out and bought a peach one for the occasion) is when he won the Japan Records Award, a coveted prize.  His old time friend and fellow singer, Akiko Wada, who also won, was so excited (probably for both of them) that she grabbed him by the wrist and dragged him up on stage, it’s a famous incidence.  Sawada looked so meek following her up on stage because Wada was tall, short haired, and manly looking woman, while Sawada was the skinny long hair maiden lol..  You will notice that he used his hand to tap his head, which is what Japanese people do when they are embarrassed or feel foolish, I have seen him doing that when he forgot lyrics or when he sang badly.  When they got onto the stage, the Wada was still holding him firmly by the wrist and didn’t let go for another 5-6 seconds. You can even see that he put his other hand on her shoulder to help calm her.  All of this confounded him so the excitements of winning his first big award didn’t kick in until he started singing his winning (depressing) song.  And then he was just crying his eyes out ha ha.  And he rolled with it like a champ, sort of like hey this is a sad song! LOL  So cute.  It’s worth sitting through this Forbidden Love number the 2nd time….. By the way, the voice over the whole clip is his, he had some sort of talk show program that ran for quite a while, this show was broadcasted almost right after the award in 1972, his young voice sounds so charming.

This Wada-Sawada couple were gossip worthy materials back in the days, apparently.  But they were just good friends, going back to the days both of them were in Osaka.  The wiki article on Wada said that she was something like the the alpha delinquent girl on the street, but Sawada alone  would not bow to her.  (デビュー前、地元大阪では女番長(当時の類語としてズベ公、スケバン)として名を馳せていたものの、唯一沢田研二(正義感が人一倍強く、血気盛んだった)にだけは頭が上がらず、睨まれ縮こまってしまったほどである.)

Wada-san was so manly lol.

I remember now, later on she showed up in a comedy skit with Sawada, man she’s tall.

Here they are again, you can see that they are very familiar with each other:

This song’s only saving grace is that the lyrics are so easy to understand. Like you could have dumped the entire thing into google translate without needing me.

 

Sawada sang this song in the mid 70’s, a surprisingly somber song compared to his usual repertoire outside of recitals in my opinion.  I highly recommend it.  I like this song sung in Sawada’s young, still somewhat boyish voice. The weariness of the lyrics and the somber music make a great contrast to the sweetness of the voice and even a note of innocence in it.  I’m not sure if I have my reasons stated correctly, just a feeling. He sang it like a melancholy lullaby.

流転 — Wanderer (1976)
lyrics: Tokiko Kato
music: Katsuo Ōno

a man sees himself in a dream
he’s by himself and is blown by the wind
he’s left to be carried by waves and storm
and he’s alone in his lonely existence

along the way there had been companions
strangers met in glamorous metropolis
but if they wanted to talk, then the night was getting late
and in the morning, only painful goodbyes awaited.

the more they talked about dreams
the whiter lonelier the morning were
without a single word [each] turned their backs
no one talked to each other and got on the train

there had been women he loved
there had been women who clung
what was he looking for
was it a journey of endless goodbyes

looking back, when was it, how long ago
the dreams he used to have as a kid
the ship with white sails docking in the harbor
the men who crossed and returned from the turbulent seas.

Since then, not sure if it was because he was too busy
now all there’s left is a tired and worn out man
a wandering emptiness
wandering without knowing whither
wandering without knowing whither

 

recorded performance is below. I think Tokiko Kato, the singer, lyricist (etc., etc.) who provided the lyrics to this song, is the lady playing the guitar — I just googled, yep, that’s her.

TUI ĐÃ QUAY TRỞ LẠI, VÀ TUI VỪA MỚI COI 1 BỘ PHIM, NGẠC NHIÊN HONG? THÚ DZỊ HONG ? Cả 6 năm chả coi bộ phim nào chứ ít gì…..

Cái phim “chủ nhân” của bài hát này tên là Tạm Biệt Chiến Hạm Không Gian Yamato (Farewell Battleship Yamato — Warriors Of Love / さらば宇宙戦艦ヤマト 愛の戦士たち)…. tên gì dài vỡi, quảng cái chắc nói trẹo lưỡi.

Tiền thân của bộ phim dài 2 tiếng rưỡi mang tên “Tạm Biệt….”  được công chiếu năm 1978 phía trên là bộ phim hoạt hình 26 tập mang tên “Chiến Hạm Không Gian Yamato,” một trong những bộ phim hoạt hình có ảnh hưởng mạnh nhất đến thể loại “cải lương vũ trụ” nảy nở tràn lan sau này.  Thậm chí nó là thằng hoạt hình đầu tiên đoạt giải Seiun Award, trước cả phim Nausicaa của Miyazaki.  Nhưng mà “Chiến Hạm….” nó có những 13 tiếng đồng hồ để trải lòng, còn “Tạm Biệt….” thì chỉ có 2,5 tiếng, thế nên xét theo độ mặn thì tui chọn “Tạm Biệt…”

Sau khi thuyền trưởng Okita qua đời, các chiến sĩ trên tàu Yamato tản mác khắp nơi một thời gian dài, nhưng mọi người vẫn luôn nhớ về nhau như anh em một nhà. Học trò cưng của thuyền trưởng Okita là Kodai nay đã trưởng thành, nằm trong quân đội không gian của trái đất, trong chuyến đi từ trạm không gian ngoài hệ thái dương về đến trái đất thì nhận được một tín hiệu khó hiểu.  Sau khi giao tín hiệu này cho trung ương để tìm hiểu thêm thì mọi người nhận ra đó là một tín hiệu cầu cứu đến từ một hành tinh xa lắc. 

Các lãnh tụ của liên minh trái đất (tui đặt tên bừa) thì ôm chủ trương nếu chưa đứa nào đánh đến mình thì mình cứ yên thân một chỗ, còn đám anh em của Kodai thì nghĩ xa hơn, tin rằng sứ mệnh của con tàu Yamato ngày xưa là giữ hoà bình cho vũ trụ, nếu hành tinh bạn mà cầu cứu thì phải đi tương trợ.  Hai bên khác chính kiến nên cãi nhau, hậu quả của cú bất đồng chính kiến đó là anh em Kodai tập hợp tất cả mọi chiến sĩ cũ của tàu Yamato ngày xưa quyết nổi loạn, chống lệnh trung ương, bay thẳng ra khỏi thái dương hệ đi tìm nơi xuất phát ra tín hiệu SOS.

Điều bất ngờ là cô người yêu sắp thành vợ của Kodai, tên là Yuki,  cũng chui theo lên tàu Yamoto, vì Yuki tin tưởng vào sứ mạng và lý tưởng của Kodai Mặc dù nguy hiểm, nhưng vì Kodai chống lệnh cấp trên thì đường nào cũng tiêu nên Yuki làm liều, trốn theo ông quân y, chui lên tàu trong chức vụ nhân viên y tế. 

Vượt qua bao hiểm nguy, gặp những đồng minh mà có một số lãnh tụ ở trái đất đã âm thầm gửi theo để hỗ trợ Kodai, cuối cùng con tàu Yamato tới được nơi phát ra tín hiệu SOS, và nhận ra rằng cả một vũ trụ đang lâm nguy trước một kẻ thù vô cùng mạnh mẽ và ngông cuồng.  Chiến hạm Yamato, niềm tự hào của Trái Đất lấy trứng chọi đá như thế nào, mời đón xem bộ phim với cái tên dài gần 2 tiếng rưỡi…..

Tui biết đến cái phim này là vì idol của tui hát bài cuối phim, xong có người viết về cái bài hát này lồng trong bối cảnh của phim. Nghe bảo phim này quyết tâm ngược khán giả không chừa thằng nào trong rạp, mà tui tin là họ nói đúng, tại lúc tui tra nó trên youtube thì phía dưới là các quý ông quý bà trung niên Nhật đã chui đầu vào rạp xem phim này hồi nó công chiếu năm 1978, và người người kể rằng xung quanh thiên hạ không ai không khóc, có người bây giờ vừa nghe nhạc dạo cất lên là chuẩn bị rưng rưng.  Còn idol của tui thì có 1 cái giọng mà để ổng bung lụa thì có thể về VN hát nhạc bolero, nó vô cùng mùi mẫn.  Cho nên tui thiết nghĩ ông đạo diễn nào mà dám chơi trò giết hết 80% nhân vật phe ta trong phim để cho toàn rạp điếng người mà còn dám đi thuê idol của tui lúc đó đang sốt xình xịch để ổng ca 1 bài đ̶ư̶a̶ ̶đ̶á̶m̶ ̶ niệm khúc ngay sau khi màn ảnh tối hù thì tui cần phải coi phim để khóc ké.

Kết quả là tui thấy phim làm “đạt.”  So với phim thời nay thì Tạm Biệt Chiến Hạm Yamato không còn có gì mới lạ, bạn coi nó thì sẽ đoán được chuyện gì sẽ xảy ra trong 10 phút tới. Nhưng đoán được rồi không có nghĩa là bạn sẽ coi thường nó, bởi vì chất lượng của phim tốt, nhân vật được khai thác tốt, nhạc hay, và chất lượng của phim nó chả thua gì mấy phim của Miyazaki thời Nausicaa này nọ.  Thậm chí tui vừa coi phim này vừa nghĩ, tui bảo đảm bà Đồng Hoa đã coi phim này rồi, tại nó làm tui nhớ đến cái truyện Ký Ức Lạc Tung Trong Giải Ngân Hà của bả.

Nếu có ai thắc mắc về vụ khóc thì tui không khóc, tại vì lúc tui đang chuẩn bị bùi ngùi, tự dưng con út của tui nó gắt ngủ lăn đùng ra đất gào khóc còn hơn cả 10 cái chiến hạm chết, tui bực quá tụt mood luôn.  Tui đề cử bộ kinh điển này cho những ai muốn viết review về thể loại cải lương vũ trụ, dù sao cũng nên biết chút ít về thuỷ tổ của thể loại, nhỉ.  Mà tui nghi sẽ có cả mớ vào bảo “không coi đâu.”  Mỗi lần tui review cái gì ngược chổng vó là toàn dân mong manh lao vào bảo không coi.

à đế tui chuyển ngữ nốt mấy lời bài hát da diết, tựa đề của nó là “Thương gửi em từ Yamato”

.nếu nàng hiền hoà hơn cả đoá hoa

nếu nàng đẹp hơn những vì sao sáng

thì hãy ra sức che chở cho nàng….

nàng đáng được ta đổi bằng sinh mệnh

tất cả những gì ta cần nghĩ đến

chỉ vỏn vẹn là về người trong tim

nếu có điều gì anh cần nhắn gửi

thì đó là điều duy nhất muốn nói với  em….

chỉ là bây giờ  đừng bắt anh nói lời tạm biệt

chỉ là bây giờ đừng bắt anh nói lời tạm biệt

nếu có ngày nào đó bài hát về lại trên môi

và ngày nào đó tình yêu sẽ trở về trong lồng ngực

thì hãy giang tay đón nhận lấy điều này

đó là bằng chứng chúng ta đã từng yêu chân thực

khi chúng ta nghĩ đến tương lai mai sau

hãy làm [điều cần làm] cho những người chúng ta yêu dấu

nếu có điều gì anh cần nhắn gửi

thì đó là điều duy nhất muốn nói với em

chỉ lầ bây giờ đừng bắt anh nói lời tạm biệt

chỉ là bây giờ đừng bắt anh nói lời tạm biệt

nếu có điều gì anh cần nhắn gửi

thì đó là điều duy nhất muốn nói với em

chỉ lầ bây giờ đừng bắt anh nói lời tạm biệt

chỉ là bây giờ đừng bắt anh nói lời tạm biệt


バタフライ・ムーン — Butterfly Moon (1981)
lyrics: Yoshiko Miura
music: Kenji Sawada 

red scarves swaying in the wind
men are all surrounding
break into steps, whistle some music, carnival

on the tables along the path
tequila and champagne
if you drink like you are bathing in them
you can grow feathers on your back.

hey! life is butterfly,
always flying from one flower to the next
life is butterfly,
always flying under the moonlight, hey!

no matter, things you hate, people you hate
just link arms and dance til sunrise
foolish men and foolish women’s lives are all the same
it’s useless to bow your head to pretend what you are not

hey! life is butterfly
always light up and then it flowers
life is butterfly
burn bright until you reach the end

hey! life is butterfly
always  burn bright and then it flowers
life is butterfly
burn bright until you reach the end, oh yeah!

la la la butterfly la la la la butterfly
la la la butterfly la la la la butterfly
la la la butterfly la la la la butterfly
la la la butterfly la la la la butterfly

I like this song but there isn’t much to say about it.  Sawada wrote the tune and someone else gave him the lyrics.  I wonder if he wrote the tune with ideas about the lyrics in mind, and then went to the lyricist to ask for the words. The lyrics sound like him, the kind of song he likes to sing.
There only one live performance I could find on youtube:

 

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Kenichi Hagiwara ((萩原健一;  26 July 1950 – 26 March 2019) used to sing in a band called PYG with Kenji Sawada after The Tigers disbanded in 1971.  Originally Hagiwara was the lead singer of The Tigers’ rival band, The Tempters, but after the group sounds era was coming to an end by the early 70’s, Sawada formed PYG with lead singers from his 2 rival bands, The Tempters and The Spiders.  Sawada seemed to have maintained all of his friendships with these people after they went their own separate ways.  Before Hagiwara passed away, he was reported to have said that back in the group sounds (GS) days, one time after a concert, a bunch of GS singers got rounded up by the yakuza, shuttled to a high class club and ordered to sing for them.  Everyone was very frightened, but Julie alone refused to sing. He said it flat out.

I got this anecdote from a fan’s comment on youtube, the original text is here:

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That story reminds me that it’s probably the same Julie that punched the guy who called him “bumpkin Julie” on the bullet train in 1976 that ended up with “mouth injury” for the guy and “hand injury” for Sawada.  Last night when I pulled up the first video clip below, which I have been avoiding due to the godawful red-polka-dots-on-white suit that hurts my eyes, while combing through the comments for interesting stories or any useful info, someone said “His hand is injured.”  Ah. That footage was aired in 1976 :))

Here’s Julie singing sweetly in French after that train incidence (he had to go on national TV to apologize and then didn’t get a Kohaku invitation that year). It looks like both “Elle” clips were filmed for the French audience, so that would explain how he got out of his 1 month time out at home. They must have filmed him against a green screen and then shipped that to the French, the French cut him out and put him on a psychedelic background…… Watch his right hand. It will help you ignore the suit. He also has another purple polka dots on white suit which is equally godawful, I’m ignoring the clip with him wearing that suit for now.

Ha, it’s French! I can do French!  Kinda….. I mean sometimes his pronunciation got me muddled.  Kenji Sawada actually got, like, 4 French records released in europe, and about 2-3 English records released in Australia, England and elsewhere in Europe.  Watanabe Productions wanted to spread his fame abroad but it didn’t catch on. He did make a little bit of a name for himself in France when his first French record came out, it made it to the chart in France at one point, so some French people know about him, and you will occasionally see French comments under his video clips, especially the French songs.

Elle (エル) — She (1976)
(no clue who wrote it)

elle, like a sweet symphony
played softly
in the middle
of the night
a child’s dream
and i love her, oh i love her

elle, like the italian sky
with a flock of white birds
like a whole life 
that makes time dance
and I love her, oh I love her

elle, she’s so beautiful
and she’s distant
an image oh~
elle, unreal like a dream
a faraway journey 

elle, like the drops of rain
falling on my day 
a nostalgia
a foolish memory
and i love her,oh  i love her

elle, she’s so beautiful
she’s faraway
like an image oh~
elle, unreal like a dream
a distant journey

elle, she’s so beautiful
she’s faraway
like an image oh~
elle, unreal like a dream
a distant journey …..

I found another clip of him singing the same song, this time with only 1/2 the amount of bandaging.  I think I remember now, even though he didn’t win much domestically, this was the year his Elle record made it to the chart in France, so some people from France showbiz came over to present him with some….thing.  I’ll dig that clip up in time.  This checker light blue suit didn’t make my eyes feel any better. Perhaps Elle is cursed with bad fashion, that’s why she ran away.

I mentioned earlier that I found him to be a boyish sort of man when he is not wearing his Julie persona.  The best videos so see him in this aspect are the ones he was the victim of Japan’s Candid Camera program.  They played all sorts of practical jokes on him, some are pretty tame, like this one where they got a Shinto priestess to do some weird stuffs with him, and he sniffed it out, so the joke failed. But other ones, they took his car apart, or they sent a beautiful actress to pose as his hardcore fan and stripped naked in front of him etc….  The Sawada featured in this clip is incredibly cute though.  Appearance wise, you wouldn’t be able to imagine how beautiful he can get, judging by the footages, lol.

 

 

This song is called “Love for you” and the first two lines goes “oh please, oh please, I want to give my heart to you” And then the rest of the song is pretty much repetitive following that line.  This song is usually the one that drove fans wild.

To talk about the beginning of Kenji Sawada and explain the name “Julie” that sticks, it all traces back to a group sounds band called The Tigers that was active from 1967-1970.  Kenji Sawada initially dropped out of high school to sing for a band called The Thunders in Kyoto when the earliest version of The Tigers, then named Sally & The Playboys invited him to sing for them  as early as 1965.  By 1966,  Sawada joined them as one of the 5 members (there were 6 of them in all,  but people switched in and out) and the name got changed to The Funnies.  They got hired by a club to sing once a week, got their fan base set up.  By 1967, they got scouted by some one from  Watanabe Productions, one of Japan’s largest and most powerful TV program producers at the time, got their band name changed to The Tigers, and debuted in 1967.  The article about The Tigers that I have provided the link is really worth reading. It contains amazing amount of info.

The Tigers was Japan’s answer to Beatlemania in the West, and because Japan’s music scene was like in its own world back then, it was completely possible for Tigers to replace the Beatles. In some TV clip I saw on youtube, at one point school officials complained about The Tigers because girls would cut classes to go do….something my limited Japanese didn’t allow me to understand. Watanabe Productions specifically built The Tigers up in the Beatles’ image, complete with the haircut that did not work out so well for Sawada at all.  And yet all the females were crazy about him, calling him beautiful etc etc.  Look at this face:

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It was something about his eyes. The HK wiki said it was his double eyelids…  I only heard Sawada said he was originally casted in a role, acting wise, because they liked his nose….. Man this The Tigers band did some weird fashion styles back in the 60’s.

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some sites put their late 60’s stuffs under a style called “baroque pop” because some of their songs had like full orchestra playing and some of the arrangements for their songs made those songs nearly impossible to sing live…. I’m just paraphrasing info from many sites.  The name Julie was because some of these group sounds people tend to take female nicknames, so when The Tigers was formed, all 5 members had nicknames, two of them female–Sally and Julie.  Julie was because Sawada was a fan of Julie Andrews.

The group had 2 lead singers, Toppo and Sawada. I read some really useful in depth info about this group from a page that I cannot find it anymore — oh wait, here is the link, I found it again 2 days after this post — http://60spunk.m78.com/tigerseg.html.   The site said The Tigers had a really good harmony because Toppo was high pitch, Sally was a low bass, and then Julie was sweet voice in between.  Whatever the reason was, The Tigers was one of the 3 hottest group sounds bands in Japan the moment they showed up on the scene.  To the point that in 1969, Julie was featured on the cover of The Rollingstone magazine, making him one of the 2 Asians ever featured on that cover up to that time (the other being Yoko Ono).  Their music included a lot of English covers, because the band had two people who knew English and could sing in English, Julie being one of them. Later on they had someone who was even somewhat fluent in English from having lived in the US for some years.

I saw a video of their concert in mid 1970’s and the super young Sawada was looking so good, bad hair and all.  His voice was already amazing back then.

If I remember correctly, the band was mostly active between 67-69, then in  70, the members did more stuffs on their own, including releasing their solo discs and stuffs.  By the January of 1971, the group formally held the last concert after which The Tigers disbanded.  Here’s a song from that concert, also one of their top numbers:

another clip of that concert

This group love each other though, because after all members went their own ways, they were still showing up with Julie from time to time.  For example when he won his huge award in 1977, The Tigers were there to congratulate him and hug him. In 1981 they held a 10 year reunion concert that was mad successful, and after that they got back again in 1982.  Disbanded again by 1983,  then showed up at the NHK Kohaku in 1989 which made Kenji Sawada go down in NHK Kohaku’s history as the only singer who performed twice during that competition, once as his own Kenji Sawada solo artist, and once as Julie, member of The Tigers (he did these 2 back to back).

They regrouped again in 2013 and drew huge crowds to their concerts.  These reunions did not have all the members.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that The Tigers is Japan’s beloved son, The Tigers fans are still alive and well today.

Here’s their 1982 concert:

Here’s their 1989 performance + Kenji Sawada’s own performance right after that number.

Here’s their 2013 concert that opened with an English cover (do you love me now that I can dance) :)))

Later when Kenji Sawada went solo, he would run into hardcore fans such as Japan’s famous actress Mitsuko Mori, who showed up as a guest in one of Sawada’s shows in the mid 70’s.  She had said on at least 2 occasions on national TV that she was a fan of The Tigers + Julie. The cute part I’m showing here is when she teaches him how to act in a skit, he approached her too “soft” so she wanted him to be more manly, then he approached her too brash so she wanted him to be manly but also gentle and ….something. Then he said OK i got it, I’ll be Julie.  And then she called him Kenji-san (first name, intimate) instead of Sawada-san so he melted into goo.

 

 

 


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