Saturday, November 28, 2015

I don't know that song.

Sono uta ha shiranai no desu.

Since most non-rowers (and many rowers…though I doubt any rowers are reading this) do not want to hear about rowing all of the time, I’m imposing a rule on myself that I can write about rowing in every other post. So today, I’m going to talk about music (but not the time I got asked by one of the music majors to come sing with them in the choir when she heard me coxing. That would be writing about rowing).

Sometimes, songs are popular in one country but not another. As a thirteen year old quasi-American, I loved Billy Joel. When I moved back to Japan, I tried to find like-minded people. I’d find them every so often, but they’d all say “I love ‘Honesty!’” I’d never heard of the song, and I’d say so, and they’d look at me funny. 

It’s a song in the album 52nd Street, and while acclaimed, it wasn’t phenomenally popular, and it wasn’t in the US release of the Greatest Hits album available at the time, which is why I didn’t really know about it. It was popular in 1980 or thereabouts, when I didn’t listen to very much music. Apparently it was used in a commercial or something in Japan, and it WAS in the Japan release of the Greatest Hits album.

When I recently went to Indonesia for work stuff, people would ask me where I was from (after they figured out I wasn’t an ethnic Chinese Indonesian), and I would say Japan, and then they would say, “I know a Japanese song! ‘Kokoro no Tomo!’” and they’d break into song.

I would have to smile uncomfortably because I’d never heard the song before in my entire life. I have now heard it three times, all in Indonesia. At first, I thought it was because my knowledge of Japanese popular culture older than 1986 was nonexistent, but I grilled my co-workers and found that they’d never heard of it either. Mayumi Itsuwa is very well-known, but for other songs.

So if you know of any songs that are popular one country but not another, please share, and we can trade “being annoyed because people thought we were strange, when it was a case of unbalanced popularity” stories.

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