Thursday, May 26, 2011

Old-Fashioned


Eigo Kawashima - Old-Fashioned (1986)
Music: Koichi Morita
Lyric: Yuu Aku

I don't know much about Eigo Kawashima, other than that he had a great head of hair and that he died from liver failure at the age of 48 back in 2001. I've listened to some of his other songs and found them pleasant enough, but none of them really jumped out at me the way this ode to the virtues of the old-fashioned Japanese man did:

Ichinichi nihai no sake o nomi
Sakana o toku ni kodawarazu
Maiku ga kita nara hohoende
Ohako o hitotsu utau dake
Each day he has two drinks,
Not bothering much with conversation.
When the microphone comes to him,
He just smiles and sings his usual song.
Tsuma ni wa namida o misenai de
Kodomo ni kuchi o kikasezu ni
Otoko no nageki wa horoyoi de
Sakaba no sumi ni oite yuku
He never shows tears to his wife,
Nor lets his children hear a complaint.
A man leaves his grief in a glass
In the corner of a bar.
Chorus 1:
Medatanu you ni hashaganu you ni
Niawanu koto wa muri o sezu
Hito no kokoro o mitsumetsudzukeru
Jidai okure no otoko ni naritai
Not wanting to stand out or make a fuss,
He doesn't get carried away with things that don't become him.
He just keeps watching people's hearts(?).
I want to be an old-fashioned man.
Bukiyou da keredo shirakezu ni
Junsui da kedo yabo ja naku
Jouzu na osake o nominagara
Ichinen ichido yopparau
He is awkward, but not boring,
Simple, but not crude.
Once a year he gets drunk
On fine liquor.
Mukashi no tomo ni wa yasashikute
Kawaranu tomo to shinjikomi
Arekore shigoto mo aru kuse ni
Jibun no koto wa ato ni suru
He's kind to old friends,
Believing their friendship will never change.
Though he has things to do here and there,
He puts himself last.
Netamanu you ni aseranu you ni
Kazatta sekai ni nagasarezu
Suki na dareka o omoitsudzukeru
Jidaiokure no otoko ni naritai
Never jealous, never in a hurry,
He is not caught up in the world's vanities.
He just keeps thinking of the one he loves.
I want to be an old-fashioned man.
[Repeat chorus 1]
Karaoke is big in Asia (in fact, karaoke is a Japanese word), which is why the first verse takes place in a karaoke bar. There's a certain sense of dramatic irony in listening to this song and knowing how Kawashima would eventually die, even if he didn't actually write the lyric himself.

Translation notes:
The song is completely devoid of grammatical subjects, so it was just a judgment call as to how much of the song to ascribe to the singer and how much to the archetypal old-fashioned man whom the singer is describing. The implied subject could be "I" everywhere if the singer were describing the things he himself were doing to be like an old-fashioned man.

I wasn't sure whether さかな refers literally to bar snacks, or figuratively to conversation at a bar. I went with the latter since it seemed a bit less mundane.

I don't really get the penultimate line of each chorus (人の心を見つめつづける and 好きなだれかを思いつづける). These seem really out of place, and I'm wondering if I'm missing something.

Finally, I don't really understand the two lines following the first chorus (不器用だけれど…). It's not clear to me whether these refer to him or to the liquor he's drinking. I don't really have a good handle on the nuances of  白ける. I'm guessing, very tentatively, that it means he's a bit socially awkward, but not in a way that makes others uncomfortable.

Overall, this was somewhat simpler, gramatically, than "Natural," but a bit trickier in terms of the nuances of the vocabulary used. I'm reasonably happy with the way it came out.

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