Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Spider and Ballerina - Booklet of Lyrics and Japanese People (Translation of the post on 31st Jan)


Continued from the last post dated on 2nd Feb . (Many of you might have forgotten by now! It was about..."Spider and Ballerina")
As a Japanese, I am interested in whether fans abroad get the same impression as us that lyrics of the song sounds quite "Western" when it is translated into English.

First of all, unusually for Fujifabric, the song begins with English - not words, but in full sentences.
"Everybody needs you     Everybody wants you"
Interestingly, these two sentences are written not using English alphabets but in Japanese characters, so Shimura sings in Japanese accent (his accent is on purpose or not, I am not too sure though...)


This is my personal opinion that by writing English words in Japanese characters, Shimura tried to establish a quasi-Western World in the song.  That is why "map", "Ballerina", "winding maze", "spider" are like characters in children's bed time stories in the West.  The word, "Spider" and "Ballerina" sound Western very much to Japanese anyway, and highlight the lyrics beautifully.

The following phrase after "Junbi ha OK   kochira mo OK   Itsudemo ikukara" (meaning "Are you ready?   I am ready, too   Anytime, I will go") is one of my favourites among all Fujifabric songs.  Turnaround or cliche (I am not too sure what is the right term for it in English.  If anyone knows, would you kindly tell me, please) sounds so great!
This song is written by Soichiro Yamauchi, and the lyrics by Masahiko Shimura.
They have proved in this song how talented they are -  not only creativity and their good instrumental technique, but also an excellent taste of music!

This phrase leads to the next word, " ticklish-like   A-ha-ha" forming a light merry sound.
It' s best in the song!


On the 22nd Feb (it is Day of Cat in Japan, and Shimura kun is known as a cat lover), a collection of poems (lyrics) written by Masahiko Shimura will be on sale in Japan.  Fans in the West might be wondering, "What is that all about?"

Well, in Japan, no matter if it is a full album or mini-album, a CD always comes with an accompanying booklet of the lyrics which is written in the way that the lyrical writer of the band orders.  Not only in the West, but also here in Thailand, a booklet of lyrics does not always come with a CD, but in Japan, the lyrics of music is something very important.
Perhaps, it is because Japanese literacy has been enjoying short poems like haiku or tanka over centuries, and  it makes us feel that respect should be paid to lyrics of music to a certain extent, too as it is a kind of poem.  No matter if it is rock or enka (a kind of melodramatic Japanese popular song), listeners need to understand lyrics in order to enjoy the music fully as it is such an important element.

(For example, fans of an American rock band, Greenday, established a website introducing the lyrics of Greenday's songs, and in here, fans write in the words of the lyrics by themselves and discuss if the word is correct.)

The booklet is used for several purposes - to enjoy the lyrics as literature, to confirm unclear words, to sing along, etc.
Even considering such a cultural background of Japanese music, publishing a book of a collection of lyrics is not usual, and this already shows that Shimura's lyrics is highly evaluated.

Please accept my apology that "Spider and Ballerina" has not been translated yet, but when English translation  of all Fujifabric's songs is finished one day, please enjoy reading them as a collection of poems.  You might discover a new side of Fujifabric!

Today's song is "Spider and Ballerina".


Anonymous said...

I was trying last night to think of a Western popular musician who could be classified as a poet, whose lyrics would be worth reading without the music, and honestly I could not. Not sure why this is. Western culture has produced many great poets in the past.

Sadly since the 1980s there has been very little in the way of music worth listening to either. But it's not all bad. I do like the people here. They are very honest and kind to children and animals, and I can't imagine living anywhere else. I am glad though that I have a high speed internet connection and can source my inspiration elsewhere.

Of course I know that I am missing out on a very important element of Shimura kuns music in not understanding his lyrics, but it's possible to feel his intelligence just in the tone of his voice. It's quite obvious if you are sensitive what the state of someones soul is, just by how they express themselves. Besides which the complexity and beauty of his music can easily stand alone.

Jack Russell in Bangkok said...

Dear Sarah,
Thank you for your comment.

I love to listen to Western music before when I was a teenager. In fact, I never really listened to Japanese pops or rocks at that time, so I am aware of the fact that there are many many great musicians in the West in 60's, 70's and 80's.

I am not personally fond of rap and techno music much, which have become dominant in Western music market since 90's, and maybe that is one of the reasons it is difficult to find a popular musician who could also be classified as a poet.

It is my dream to visit Australia once! I am very much interested in organic farming and wild animals in the nature, and you have that all in one package!! My first friend abroad was an Australian, and I have heard a lot about your country.

It is such a wonderful thing to have an identity as what we are, where we are from owning a good knowledge about ourselves, and then, next step is to pay respect to the people from other culture.
Music can be acted as a catalyst to unite different nations all over the world, and computer helps a lot to make world music accessible to anyone through internet.

It is our pleasure to know that you understand Shimura kun's music so deeply and "feel what he is" though his music.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mai,
I hope that when you come to Australia, you will contact me. I would love to show you some of my favourite wild places! Though I am living in the city now, I have a dream to move back out to the country and establish an organic garden. I grew up running wild in the bush and on the beaches and lost my heart at an early age to this wonderful land. Truly, the power and majesty of the pristine wilderness here is awe inspiring.

I always feel a bit sorry for tourists here though, because the cities are quite dull, the distances huge and the wildlife shy and often nocturnal. It's not an easy place to see in a hurry. I hope I can help you experience it more fully, and understand why it is really the great love of my life. Though I need inspiration from other artists to make me feel less lonely, it is this land that really feeds my art and my soul. It is my Fuji san!

Jack Russell in Bangkok said...

To sarahmagdalene,

Thank you for your kind invitation!
We share quite a few similar interests, it might because we grew up in a similar environment.

It is very difficult for me to keep inner balance if I am too far away from the nature. Convenience and shopping cannot regenerate myself, and it took me years to realise that.

When I was in UK, it was much easier for me to recharge myself as natural walkways were everywhere in the town, and I started believing in the existence of fairies and goblins on the field. Are you interested in this kind of thing?

Anonymous said...

I believe in unseen entities if that's what you mean. Nature spirits, ancestor spirits, every rock and tree is inhabited. Even the earth itself is a living entity. I think this is why one never feels lonely in nature and also why it is so restorative. Given respect these entities are always benevolent. Life has taught me to be wary only of living human beings.