Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu
Hey yo hey, dudes.
Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu! or "Please put up with me this year as well!"
Happy New Year from the frozen inaka! New Year has come and gone. Stacks of rotund smooth gelatinous rice cakes topped with a single bright orange mikan are displayed in every shop window. My brats are rolling in wealth from being spoiled by relatives. Red seafood like crab, lobster and sea bream can hardly be kept on the fishmonger's block.
I long for fried cheese.
It's so cold now that when I wake up in the morning I can see my breath. Suddenly the heated toilet seats make sense. I'd forgotten to turn my seat heater on when I got home and I was unkindly reminded. Japanese homes are not heated centrally except in Hokkaido. I have three portable electric heaters, a ratty eletric blanket and many layers of warm clothes to get me through the brutal winter. As I am secluded to the one room I bother to heat, I like to burrow underneath my blankets and relax with some genmai-cha and pretty music.
Lately on the roster has been MIA DOI TODD'S "What if We Do?" because her voice is more like an aroma and this song is a tempting invite, somehow both casually and elegantly offered.
I wish I could tell you the name of the next song constantly played on my IPod of late but I can't read Korean. Here's what the CD came up with:
"봄봄 Ul 3523"
All I can tell you is the singer's name is KIM JUNG MI and the album is called NOW. I'd never heard anything from Korea except pop and hip-hop so it was refreshing to hear some psychedelic 70's folk rock from the land that gave us kimchee. The recording If you're curious at all, e-mail me and I can send you the track. It's lovely.
Directly after this track, I like to play "Aqueous Transmissions" by INCUBUS. Thank you, Incubus. I don't even know what Brandon Boyd is singing about, I'm too caught up by the Mulan charm of the shamisen, Chinese violin and flute arrangement.
Speaking of pretty, MAAYA SAKAMOTO'S string of solo albums never really interested me even though I devoured most of her faithful collaboration work with the anime powerhouse composer YOKO KANNO. Sakamoto recently released an album with some English tracks called "Shonen Alice". Two of the songs therein were on constant replay on my Ipod not long ago. "Chibikko Folk" and "Kingfisher Girl". The latter is sung in English and is either sappy or gorgeous depending on who you are. When I hear it, I think of many things fanciful. Like old faded Russian cartoons, fairy tales or stained glass. Sakamoto's voice is sweet and uncomplicated and though it is somewhat evident that English isn't her native language, the melodic arrangement makes up for it. Yes, this song probably belongs on an anime soundtrack but hey, that's always been Maya's bread and butter and my old pastime.
At any rate, it's a song I'd one day like to sing to my kids.
If I ever got confident with Spanish, I'd also learn to sing MECANO'S "Hijo de la Luna". Beautiful, haunting. The original version is fine by me but BELLE PEREZ has done a completely acoustic version which I find even more intriguing. The song is actually a bloody waltz between a scheming moon and a foolish dark gypsy. I can't listen to this song without seeing the story. It's one of those.
I first fell for MATTHEW SWEET because his video for "Girlfriend" featured an ancient anime from the 80's, back when anime was still something you had to dig for. I always considered that song my favorite but then I found "Devil with the Green Eyes".
I've always been a fan of songs written like childhood flashbacks. NIZLOPI'S "JCB Song" reminds me faintly of GLEN PHILLIPS' "Drive By" only Nizlopi is a Brit dude recording from his bedroom. This lyric makes me ache to be a lad with a dad who knew what to say to lads.
"I'm Luke, I'm five and my Dad's Bruce Lee"
RHETT MILLER'S old band the OLD 97's did a great song called "Designs on You" which I play when I miss my sister. Oh yeah, if you haven't heard A PERFECT CIRCLE'S acoustic version of "Three Libras", it's way more haunting, creepy and beautful than the album version ever managed in my opinion.
SONGS TO SEEK:
What if We Do?/Mia Doi Todd
봄봄 Ul 3523/Kim Jung Mi
Chibbiko Folk/Maaya Sakamoto Kingfisher Girl/Maaya Sakamoto
Hijo de la Luna/Belle Perez
Devil with the Green Eyes/Matthew Sweet
Drive By/Glenn Phillips
Designs on You (acoustic)/Old 97
Three Libras (acoustic)/A Perfect Circle