Note: I’m going to be using Japanese characters in this post, if you get a whole bunch of squares (likely if your reading this on a Windows box), you might have to change a system setting for your computer to render the characters correctly, otherwise they’ll just show up as little squares with numbers in them.
As many of you will know, one of my all time favourite songs is a song called: 負けないで (Makenaide, “Don’t Give Up”) by Zard.
It’s one of my favourite songs because it has a really positive message (not just the title). When it was released in Japan, in 1993, the country had taken an economic down turn. The Nikkei 225 (the Japanese stock exchange) had taken a massive tumble, falling one third. There was a recession. People were finding it hard to live. People were losing their jobs. Crime rates climbed back up. People were scared.
A Little History
Izumi Sakai had said that she’d recorded the song to give the country a boost, and to give
Men who [were] taking their University exams confidence.
Later, the 1990s would be regarded as 失われた10年 (Ushinawareta Jūnen, “the Lost Decade”) for Japan. During the 1980s, the economy was booming but (as with what happened recently) credit was too easy to come by and too many people borrowed too much money from banks that were only too willing to lend to people who had no way of paying it all back. The result: … interest rates spiked, the market crashed, massive debt was incurred by (pretty much) everyone, “we’re too big to fail” was the order of the day
“We’re too big to fail”? It’s like saying too fat to diet. What are you doing? – Robin Williams, 2009, Weapons of Self Destruction
When 負けないで was released on January 23rd of 1993, the Japanese people loved it. It really summed up what they wanted to hear:
Don’t Give up/Just a bit further
Keep on running until the end
This was enough to inspire the Japanese people to face the fate that had been cooked up for them by the financial sector. Interestingly enough, come fans had said that the song allowed them the courage to overcome things like bullying and certain pressures. A little like the modern day “It gets better campaign”
Something I am totally behind. Some of my closest friends are gay and have had to live through years of persecution just because they where seen as different.
As a result, after the aftermath that followed Izumi Sakai’s passing away in May of 2007 (she was 40 years old, planning a new album and a new tour of Japan) 負けないで was voted by WEZARD (the ZARD fan community) as their favourite song that Izumi had ever produced.
I’m going to take you away from Japan for a short while, imagine the scene:
I’m sitting at the hairdressers, waiting to get my hair cut (what little of it, I have left ;p). There are a few people ahead of me in line, there’s a gas fire going (in the middle of summer?) in the corner, and the ladies doing the cutting are singing away to the radio, blaring out in the background.
I’m beckoned into the “Chair of Destiny” ™ so that I might have my hair cut. I tell the lady how I’d like my hair cutting, take off my glasses and get comfortable. All of a sudden, a familiar tune begins playing from the radio. The singing stops, as no-one knows this one, all except for me. I get a few strange looks, as I’m singing a song that isn’t in English. I’m singing 負けないで.
I realise that everyone is giving me strange looks and so shut up. I listen to the song, it sounds so much like 負けないで that I make a mental note of the song title so that I can look it up when I get home. It was eerie how much this song sounded like 負けないで, it seemed like a carbon copy.
It turns out that the radio DJ had played a song from 1986 called Dreamtime by Daryl Hall. I hit Google and tried to figure out whether The Internet knew about this anomaly – I wanted to know if Tetsuro Oda (the composer of 負けないで) had been influenced by Dreamtime. Apparently, The Internet didn’t know of the link. This made me sad. So, I thought that I’d point the comparison out here, so that we could have a place to start possible research.
For those who are intrigued, would like to see how alike the music in these two songs are, those who want a blast of 80’s American Pop music and for the bored readers strewn around the Blog-o-Sphere, I shall embed both of the songs for your listening pleasure.
Firstly, 負けないで by Zard with English and Russian (why?) translated lyrics
Secondly, Dreamtime by Daryl Hall
Anyway, I’ll leave you all to it.