30 April 2011

Mama... I want a boyfriend

(Listen to the ‘Mama... yo quiero un novio’ by FUJISAWA Ranko, 1954)

In my opinion, the Japanese people are a very diligent and fussy people in the world. Once they start working on something that originates from another country, they work really hard so much so that they become the second best, if not the authority, in the world.

Listen to the audio clip. Would you observe that the singer is actually Japanese if I didn't tell you so?

I found this record on eBay when searching for some Carlos Gardel's tango records. The song title 'Mama... yo quiero un novio' (Mama... I want a boyfriend) caught my attention first. After I saw the fourth line on the paper label, I clicked the 'Buy It Now' button straightaway without any hesitation.

Wow, a Japanese vocalist's performance of tango produced by a Argentine record company! I just feel compulsory to own this record.

FUJISAWA Ranko (藤沢嵐子) is a Japanese singer who started her career at an American club in Tokyo after the War singing Western classical works, jazz tunes and Japanese popular songs.

Enchanted by 'La Cumparsita' played by an Argentine tango orchestra, she found Argentine tango the music she really wanted to sing and therefore turned to tangos from other genres.

In 1950, Fujisawa made her debut at the Ciro Club in Ginza with the Orquesta Típica Tokyo, conducted by her husband HATAKAWA Shinpei (早川真平). She then made her first recording in the ensuing year for Japanese Victor.

In 1953, she performed at a theatre in Buenos Aires, where the president Perón was among the audience. She was actually on holiday and only planned to stay there for a couple of days, but was requested to sing for the audience in Buenos Aires at a theatre by the director of a radio station, who had heard her on Japanese radio before.

The performance was so successful that several local radio stations strove to engage her to sing in the air. She finally stayed there for two more months.

Fujisawa performed again in Argentina in 1954 and for the third time in 1956.

Truly awesome. A Japanese singer conquered the Argentinians with Argentine tangos. If I didn't see the Japanese name on the paper label of the record, I would never know that the singer is actually Japanese-born Japanese.

(Portrait image from MySpace)

16 April 2011

Clink, Clink, Another Drink

(Listen to the ‘Clink, Clink, Another Drink’ by Spike Jones and His City Slickers, 1942)

The famous British comedian Spike Jones, together with His City Slickers, produced a drinking song titled ‘Clink, Clink, Another Drink’ in 1942, with a ‘soundie’, an early version of the music video to be played in a special film jukeboxe, which is now available on YouTube.

The record of ‘Clink, Clink, Another Drink’ I purchased from eBay arrived last week. It reminds me of the round drinking culture in Britain. Although it seems to be more efficient to buy a round, as only one from a group has to leave to get some drinks rather than all of the group members queuing up in front of the bar, it makes people consume more. For example, if five chaps buy you drinks, you absolutely have to buy a round for all of them to successfully organise a piss-up.

This is why it’s so common to see a person come in for a pint but end up having probably five. Therefore, I believe that, having lived in the UK for five years, British people out-drink their European counterparts. While toddlers in the Continent are given wine with meals as soon as they are weaned, as the rumour goes, British children grow up eager to emulate the round drinking habits of their elders.

At the very end of ‘Clink, Clink, Another Drink’, it goes ‘From now on I'll stick to milk/ Nothing else to drink for me.’ To me, it doesn’t imply going teetotal; it simply means there is no more wine/spirits/beer left. Pubs close at 11 o'clock in England and Wales, or 12 o'clock in Scotland, on weekdays, so the last round has to be ordered in time or otherwise nothing left to drink.

Enjoy this short hilarious piece.

Clink, clink, another drink
Plenty in the cellar when it's gone.
Drink, drink, the glasses clink
Making tinkly music till the dawn is breaking.

Clang, clang, who cares a dang?
What's the difference when you're on a spree?
Over the teeth, behind the gums,
Look out stomach here she comes
Hi! Have another drink on me.

Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle, gurgle.
Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle, gurgle.
Trinkle, trinkle, trinkle, trinkle.
Slice of cheese and bite of pickle
Doesn't even cost a nickel
Now to wash it down.

Clink, clink, no more to drink
I had a cellar full, but now it’s gone.
Drink, drink, the glasses clink
Like the anvil chorus and my head is splitting,
uh, brinking, uh, busting. Oh brother!

Oh, ow, what'll I do now
Pink elephants running after me.
Oh, that stuff is smooth as silk
From now on I'll stick to milk.
Nothing else to drink for me.

11 April 2011

Birthday celebration with my son

It's been the fourth year of rabbit since I was born. There are 12 zodiac sings and therefore I am 36 years old now.

Although so insecure I feel about what's going on next year and the year after next year, I have managed to survive so far. It's absolutely awful to be on tenterhooks, but I am gratified to have a one-year-old son celebrating the date of my birth with me.

04 April 2011

Smoke gets in your eyes

(Listen to the British version 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' by Elsie Carlisle, 1934)

Of course we don't see clearly when we fall in love. However, I suppose when smoke gets in my eyes, wow, it's painful. Not only will it cause temporary vision loss, but also trigger coughs and bring tears trickling down the cheeks.

Before I bought this record, the only thing I knew about 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes' was that it is an oldie, probably similar to something like 'Moon River'. Never had I realised that it is a 1930s jazz standard, as old as the celebrated 'Over The Rainbow' and 'Summer time', nor had I been aware of this British version recorded only one year after its composition.

According to Stanley Green's famous Broadway reference book Broadway Musicals: Show by Show, which I purchased about twenty years ago at a secondhand bookshop, it is originally a song written for the 1933 Broadway musical Roberta by the composer Jerome Kern and the lyricist Otto Harbach.

Just like many other evergreen pieces, 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes' has been covered by several dozens of artists, of which the household name would probably be the doo wop group The Platters. The cover version they made in 1958, the very one I would think of when this tune rings out, reached number one on Billboard Hot 100.

Enjoy the British interpretation of this classic piece by Elsie Carlisle, the most popular radio performer in England in the 1930s. It's slightly faster than the covered one performed by The Platters.

Here come the lyrics for your reference.

They asked me how I knew
My true love was true
Oh, I of course replied
Something here inside
Cannot be denied

They said someday you'll find
All who love are blind
Oh, when your heart's on fire
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes

So I chaffed them and I gaily laughed
To think they could doubt my love
Yet today my love has flown away
I am without my love

Now laughing friends deride
Tears I can not hide
Oh, so I smile and say
When a lovely flame dies
Smoke gets in your eyes