'll be quick about this subject. Rosie O'Donnell on The View? Let's all pray she will be more Gay than Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares. Will she knock heads with Area 51... I mean Star? Will Joy and Babs finally talk about Gay people? Will we see an out'n'proud Mom on televisions across the country? Damn, I hope so. But enough of that.
Some of you know already know this, but I speak Japanese. It's something I became passionate about a few years ago. Call me crazy, call me obsessed, call me in Japanese and we can talk. And no, I don't have a Japanese boy obsession. Cars from all around the world have parked in my garage, oh-khay.
For years I've been enamored with the music that you hear in Japanese restaurants; that whiny female voice that sounds as if she is imitating a female cat in heat. Haunting and dark at times, bright and shiny at others, it always caught my ear as I was slurping up my miso.
During my first Japanese lesson, I was asked why I wanted to learn Japanese. I gave a long winded answer that ended with '...and I want to know what those women are singing about.' I can't remember who said it, but someone told me right there and then: 'Life.'
You either love Enka or you hate it. The name, when written in Japanese, consists of two characters, which literally mean to perform/act a song. Enka performers are truly part singer and part actor.
If you saw Kill Bill Vol. 1, when O-Ren Ishii gets scalped in the snowy garden at the House of Blue Leaves, the most amazing song begins to play. THAT is Enka. The first line means 'dying in the morning, the funeral snow is falling.' Gotta love that.
The song is called 'Shura no Hana' or 'Flower of Carnage.' Meiko Kaji, the singer, is a great way to ease into the world of Enka. Look for any of her Best of the Best albums for a good taste of the genre. The copy I found also has quite a number of other good songs including one called 'Jeans Blues' that I sang ( poorly ) with some queens when I was in Tokyo. I sound much better when I sing it in the shower.
For the hardcore melismatic glory of Enka, with heavy vibrato, wailing cats etc., check out Fuyumi Sakamoto. I have her 2004 Best of the Best ( notice the pattern ) and she amazes me with her voice every time I listen to it.
Even if you can't understand a single word, the emotions of each of her songs are perfectly clear. Pain, happiness, my-man-did-me-wrong, life. Enka songs are stories written from the heart.
And now the bad news. Enka doesn't really come cheap, and it's hard to find. The best luck I've had is online at www.cdjapan.co.jp. They offer a the best selection of Japanese music, anime, and films I've ever seen.
With you in 4/4,