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Bold & Delicious

I’m barely in a chipper mood right now.

So I found that GaijinPot has a study-in-Japan program, where an advisor will set you up with a Japanese language school, find you a place to live, and even help you find part-time work on the side (since you have a limit to the number of hours you can work in a week while on a student visa). That sounded amazing to me, but the biggest issue I have is getting the money to go.

Reluctantly, I set up a GoFundMe campaign, and then I didn’t have it in me to share it on Facebook right away, so I waited a day before doing so. Initially, I was thinking of sharing the link with my extended family, but I’m so timid about doing that and haven’t done so yet.

The friend I’m staying with took umbrage with me asking for money. She wants me to stay here, thinking I have something amazing inside of me hidden behind unprofessionalism and feelings of worthlessness. That’s the short answer. The long answer deals with how she’s “fiercely independent” and wants me to be the same. I won’t get into all the ways that she relies on others to make ends meet. I’m not here to rant, but I will take what she says with a grain of salt.

I have another friend who lives in New York City, and he’s willing to help me out if I help him out for a couple of weeks. He’s not offering the full amount that I’m asking for, but it would help me get by even if I don’t use it to go to Japan. He and I have an understanding that I might use it for things I owe instead of going to Japan, and he’s fine with that.

Oh NYC, how I miss thee.

I take that back. My car was broken into on the second night I was there. The only redeeming qualities that NYC has for me all exist in Manhattan, and they all cost money that I don’t have right now.

While I’m not living out of my car, I do have a lot of stuff in it that I don’t want to lose. The thought of lightning striking twice bothers me, because this time I feel like I might actually have something stolen from me. So if plans get solidified, I’m going to try to leave a few things at my Upstate NY friend’s place before I go downstate.

Back to the current time, and the state of things as they are, my friend from Japan had a few words to say about my plan. I read his message briefly, then nodded off back to sleep because the couch was way too comfortable and the house was reasonably silent except for my music.

My first thought was, he doesn’t want me to do this, he’s discouraging me from going to Japan at all because of my current situation. That was the thought that was on my mind when I had drifted back to sleep, and I don’t recall having any dreams as a result of that thought.

When I did roll out of “bed,” it was because one of the kids wanted to watch television, and he put it on an obnoxious cartoon that motivated me to leave the room and start my day. So when I sat down for breakfast, I had my headphones plugged in to my phone and was listening to music while eating and catching up with e-mail and social media. I read my Japanese friend’s message again, telling myself to read it in the tone of a concerned parent instead of someone who doesn’t want others to be happy. Doing so changed my perspective a bit, as I saw it as him making sure I had things figured out and settled before embarking on this quest of mine.

I’m not a huge fan of chess. I like the musical Chess, but don’t ask me to play the board game. The only time I like to think a certain number of moves ahead is in my own life, and even then, I prefer to consider that multiple options are valid if I have to consider what’s to come. So when I was asked what I would do after one year of language study, I listed my options: go for another year, go to college, or go back to the States or something. Do I have a guaranteed job? I don’t even have a guaranteed job now. Becoming bilingual, especially in Japanese, should be a marketable skill. I do need to go back to college, and Japanese schools are cheaper than in the States. Earning a degree in a second language should be impressive, I would think. Maybe I’ll even meet a nice guy while I’m in Japan, you know, if things with my valentine don’t work out in the long run, and then maybe I’ll stay there on a spousal visa. Maybe I’ll head to Australia once my first year in Japan is done, since I’m interested in things around Sydney. Maybe I’ll let myself get kidnapped and trafficked, sold to a high bidder and treated like property. Do I really need to have everything planned and figured out?

Not that I want all my friends to be enablers, but perhaps the resistance came at a bad time for me emotionally and biochemically. I had the house to myself for a couple of hours in the afternoon, which was enough to keep me from being distracted while I imagined myself having a breakdown in front of my friend from Japan, telling him that, yes, I am worthless, there’s nothing special about me, I don’t deserve a lot of the things that I hope to have in my life,.. I entered my daydream somewhere in the middle of that rant, so I don’t remember everything I was saying about myself. I imagined myself running upstairs after that, unable to face him anymore, feeling like I wasted his time in visiting me, and figuring he would walk out the door anyway. I revisited this daydream again in the early evening, changing the event that happens after I run up the stairs. In one version, I collapse at the top of the stairs, somewhere in the hallway, just from being emotionally unable to stand on my own two feet. In the other version, I go upstairs but shut myself into the bathroom, sitting in the bathtub and crying almost endlessly. In both instances, I don’t imagine my friend from Japan leaving. Somehow I imagine he’s the one who knows me well enough to play songs I enjoy, and I pictured him going on to my computer to find certain songs and play them loud enough for me to hear them. I did imagine him playing guitar outside of the bathroom, but I can’t figure out where that guitar came from as my guitar is in storage. I couldn’t imagine myself being in a happy mood again, all I could do was feel like whatever walls I put up were knocked down by hearing the music. I do wonder if any of my friends would consider playing music to affect my mood, or if they’d all be like, “just leave her alone for a while, she’ll settle down on her own.”

Maybe I needed to do something with my music. I created a new playlist in iTunes. I threw in all of my Himuro songs, a decent number of L’arc en Ciel songs, a good amount of Hyde and Vamps, one X Japan song, my only Acid Black Cherry song that I have so far,… basically, a random mix of Japanese music.

When I got to Ayumi Hamasaki’s songs, I double-clicked on one because, hey, it’s a good song and I wanted to hear that one specific song. And then I went to look up the lyrics, just to make sure it’s not a song about steak sauce. Thankfully, Bold & Delicious is about not hesitating, being bold and doing something in the moment, because it’s better to do something and regret it later than to do nothing and regret not taking the chance.

Maybe I needed that song today, in this moment. I thought about my plans for going to Japan. Sure, I’m not thinking like a rational adult by not considering the things I need to do here before I go over there, or at least by thinking I could live off a half-baked plan for a while. But what if I never get to go? What if I’m stuck in poverty and have to give up on my dreams, dreams which might actually help me out in the future with getting a better job? Is it so wrong to boldly go and assume that things will work out the way they’re meant to be? I guess so.

But… again, regret after action is better than regret without action.

I looked for the video for Bold & Delicious. Ayumi is riding around New York City. Her hair looks amazing, and it reminds me that I’m overdue for getting my ends trimmed, though I want to walk out of the hair salon with hair like hers. And again, she’s going around NYC. Maybe this is a sign, or a good luck charm, or something. If the NYC trip goes through, that will be money I could use.

But forgive me if I have that attitude! At least let me try to act bold, like I have everything figured out and I know exactly what I’m doing and nothing is going to stop me or mess things up. Maybe I can fake it for a while, maybe things will magically work out for me. I feel like I screw up more so when I don’t act confident, so convincing myself that I’m bold and delicious will be good for my ego, at least for a little while.

At that thought, I’m feeling a little better. I did also think of myself as having a flavor, if I’m going to be bold AND delicious, which made me snicker to myself. Yeah, music definitely helps improve my mood.

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炎の化石 / Diamond Dust

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If you’re ever on YouTube for music videos, the website will get a crush on you and make a mix tape of songs you might enjoy. It’s not far from what actually happens, which is to say that YouTube pulls music videos and concert performances that are relevant to music you’ve already played, and then those videos go into a list on autoplay. After playing enough Kyosuke Himuro music, to the point where I’m looking at his stage attire in recent concert videos and thinking about how I could pull off his look as a woman, I have a fairly dedicated Kyosuke Himuro mix in YouTube’s playlist category.

Now, I love music videos. I used to get criticized by my family for watching music videos while doing chores in the living room, because I could play the radio if I wanted to listen to music. Never mind the fact that I grew up on other people putting the television on VH1 (basically MTV for grown-ups). Back in the day, we didn’t have the internet to pull up music videos on a whim, we had to hope that the gods at Viacom blessed us with decent song selections. Regardless of how good a song was, there was still a music video to go along with it, and that too could be a hit or a miss but it was added entertainment.

Music videos do a number of different things. Maybe it’s just a montage of concert performances, so you get to see what the performers look like. Sometimes it’s a lot of flashy imagery, color filters, nothing much in the way of substance but it catches your attention. And then there are those which tell a story, you see the vocalist or a random actor in a troubling situation that resolves itself as the song is fading out. The story music videos are probably my favorites, because they don’t rely on the lyrics to tell the story, you have to focus on the events as they occur and figure out what is going on.

My Japanese friend sent me the link for the Diamond Dust video, and I must say I’m disappointed because I expected to see Shiva from the Final Fantasy games doing her signature move. YouTube eventually gifted me with the Honoo no Kaseki music video, at which point I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There is an angel character in both music videos, as well as Kyosuke donning black and feathers. So I figure there must be a connection between both videos.

Before I begin, there was a single that was released between Honoo no Kaseki and Diamond Dust, but I CANNOT find a music video for it and it’s killing me! The song in between is called Eternity.

Also, Diamond Dust was released as a single before Honoo no Kaseki. It doesn’t fit in the timeline that way, but these things sometimes happen with recording companies and release dates and such.

I spent a couple of hours on this last night, determined to piece together some kind of story between the two music videos. What I came up with was this:

“To me, the woman in white in Honoo no Kaseki is someone he had to bring to the afterlife, and the angel might have been her guardian which could explain her sadness. After that, the angel felt lost in our world, but as Kyosuke is an angel as well, she felt comfort in his presence. Meanwhile, Kyosuke seems to resent having to usher folks to the other side as it causes their loved ones to grieve. By Diamond Dust, he seems to feel protective of the angel, watching her stumble around in our world but nearby so she doesn’t feel so alone. Being protective of her gives him a new purpose in life, so to speak, as it’s something he can do that won’t cause more suffering but will instead try to minimize that suffering.”

Also, I made the following note:

“There is one reason why I put the videos in that order, and that would be Himuro’s wings. He never has the wings in Diamond Dust, and it would make no sense to give him wings out of the blue. The loss of his wings could suggest that he’s a fallen angel, but the angel’s embrace would suggest he was forgiven even though he never seems to be searching for forgiveness.”

And then I actually searched for the lyrics and translated them just before deciding to publish this entry. What I found was that everything I needed to know about Honoo no Kiseki was in the lyrics.

Oops.

So I called it a night and went to sleep.

In Honoo no Kiseki, he has wings for the first twenty to thirty seconds of the music video. I thought there was a wardrobe malfunction, and the crew was like, “okay, the wings broke. We’ll put him in a black coat that has feathers on it, and we just won’t worry about the wings. We’ll say it’s symbolic of his wings.” Well, it is symbolic of the wings he lost. But, there is a lyric that, when translated, roughly comes out to, “An angel who lost its wings, It’s a violently fleeting beast.” He was supposed to lose the wings! Lucky him! I had a pair of black feathered wings that I bought about 9 years ago, and they wouldn’t stay together for anything, so that’s why I assumed what I did. 

If I take what I learned from Honoo no Kaseki, then Diamond Dust has a little more significance. Well, the lyrics for Honoo no Kaseki are about seeing another person and being in love with them because they share something in common with you, but it’s a painful kind of love as it’s limited to looking and not physically embracing the other person. And in both music videos, he’s often in a voyeuristic role.

Diamond Dust is softer, more loving. Himuro watches from the rooftops of a city, still in his black feathered coat. The weeping angel from Honoo no Kaseki now seems to be lost in the world and confused (not to mention, it also looks like a different actress, or there were some changes in the hair and makeup department). The lyrics aren’t the bleeding emotion that was the theme of Honoo no Kaseki, but instead feel more saddening. Himuro wants his love to melt the loneliness of the angel, as all he can do right now is give his love. In the video for Diamond Dust, the angel does approach him and wrap her arms around him, as it’s as if she does appreciate his love for her. Himuro never seems to warm up to her embrace, instead remaining in a crouched position, but maybe that’s all he can really do and it’s all that’s really needed.

I do wish I could find a music video for Eternity, just to see if it carries on the story at all. I would love to see what softened up Dark Angel Kyosuke, or what caused the other angel to go from weeping to searching for something. But maybe it doesn’t exist at all, and that’s fine.

I changed my Facebook profile pictures tonight to represent Honoo no Kaseki. I had Babydoll from Sucker Punch up before that, as a New Year’s motivational reminder that I have everything I need within me, I just need to fight. But Honoo no Kaseki is a little more than just wing porn for me, now that I have a rough idea of the lyrics. That’s not to say I don’t still want his wings; I do. However, the song is yet another that resonates with me, which is why I went specifically with images from Honoo no Kaseki and not just random Himuro pictures. After all, “Let’s give it all in the future if time can be brought back by insanity and craziness.” 

Himuro

When I talk about Japanese music, it’s always L’arc en Ciel that I mention first. I feel that if you watch anime, you’ve probably heard Ready Steady Go at the beginning of Fullmetal Alchemist, or Driver’s High at the start of Great Teacher Onizuka. If you’ve seen the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and kept watching the end credits, you would have heard Spirit Dreams Inside. If you’ve been to Otakon in the past, maybe you saw they had a concert years ago, and if you were anywhere near New York City in recent years, you’d have seen something advertised as they were the first Japanese band to perform at Madison Square Garden. L’arc en Ciel should be on your radar if you’re into Japanese rock and pop, even if you’re not listening to them.

So, if I’m talking to someone who listens to some Japanese music, my next inquiry would be either Utada Hikaru or Ayumi Hamasaki. If you play a lot of video games, you’ve likely heard a song from one or both women. Utada sings the theme songs for the main Kingdom Hearts games, both the English and Japanese versions of the songs. Ayumi pops up in so many places, I don’t remember which Japanese roleplaying video game my ex was playing but there was “music featuring Ayumi Hamasaki” and I remember glaring at him for not knowing who she was. But I’ll admit, I was way more likely to be familiar with her music than he was.

There’s Japanese performers that I haven’t listened to much if at all. I think I heard Glay songs for the first time recently because they came up on YouTube. The Gazette seems to be gaining steam. I’ve heard of X Japan and have listened to a couple of their songs but I haven’t gotten hooked on their music.

But I can’t say I had ever heard of Kyosuke Himuro… until now.

I was chatting with my friend from Japan about a week ago, sheepishly admitting that I bought the game Yakuza 0. I shouldn’t have purchased it, as it was within the first week of the game’s release in the western world and I shouldn’t have spent the money on it when I haven’t secured a new job. But, I was feeling confident after getting a call that implied I was on a shorter list of candidates, so I treated myself. Anyway, we were briefly chatting about the Yakuza/Ryu ga Gotoku series, when he mentioned that Himuro had a song in the fifth installment and then sent me a YouTube link to hear the song. It meant nothing to me, as I didn’t know who Himuro was or anything, but I clicked the link and listened to Still The One. Before the song was done, he sent me a link for a concert performance of Wild Romance.

I was trying to find lyrics for Still The One, but couldn’t find anything that wasn’t kanji. In fact, in the great search for HImuro lyrics, there were few instances when I could actually find translated lyrics. I assume it’s because I’m now looking for songs that haven’t been in every anime or every video game. In the grand scheme of things, I like it. It means I’m now being exposed to Japanese music that isn’t directed at me because I’ve seen anime or I’ve listened to probably every song that Hyde has ever recorded.

I usually pick one song and talk about what it means to me, but I’m having a difficult time deciding that at the moment.

I want to start with Wild Romance. It was the first linked video that showed Kyosuke’s face, not to mention it showed the way he performed. He’s very animated and energetic, often moving his arms or legs to the music or reacting to a break in the melody. It’s an infectious kind of energy, as I can’t help but get into the music and want to move around as well. Wild Romance is outstanding for playing while driving long distances on the highway, even if you don’t know Japanese.

What next? Revolver is the death of me, it really is. A bit of back story, I once remarked to my Mom that modern music isn’t like what it used to be. I made that remark while playing a Pandora-like channel of soft rock ballads on one of the cable television stations. Mind you, I was probably in the single-digit age range when a lot of those songs were popular, if I was even born yet at all. Regardless of that, it’s those songs which I enjoy hearing on warm summer nights, when the thinnest bed linens feel like winter comforters, when a cool breeze through the windows is occasional refreshment, and sitting outside or laying down inside is as enjoyable as going for a stroll with a significant other. It’s the songs that make it more than a sticky summer night, telling my heart to search for a love that can’t be found in the places where everyone else goes to find their own love. It makes me feel old fashioned, in a sense, or at least I feel like my heart yearns to be in a decade where our current hookup culture doesn’t exist. But anyway, Revolver… I had to use Google Translate for the lyrics, and I hope the translation isn’t too far off from the Japanese. The Google Translate method does result in some broken English, but the lyrics about not saying goodbye can’t be easily mistaken. That’s the part that gets me the most, “I will never say goodbye my love” which is already in English, and urging the listener to not say goodbye as well.

Oh, but then we have to mention Safe And Sound. How did I miss this collaboration? I’m a fan of My Chemical Romance, so I should have heard about what Gerard Way has been doing, Somehow, I missed Gerard and Kyosuke teaming up to record a song together and sounding awesome in the process.

There’s really too many songs! And then there’s Himuro’s previous gig as vocalist for Boøwy, which means even more songs. But I’m enjoying what I’ve heard so far, the beauty of the slow songs and the energy of the faster songs. Hopefully I’ll have a partner to slow dance to the slow songs, because my heart wants to dance. As for the faster songs, I want a partner in crime, someone by my side for every adventure that comes our way.

Kyosuke, what do you think about that?

Empty Orchestra, Empty Room

I did karaoke img_8ca31b64d0ae-1on Thursday night!

You would think that the mere mention of such an event would mean that it was my first time ever doing karaoke, that I managed to work through some fears so I could face a crowd. Unfortunately, I have a long history with karaoke, which should probably make it one of my least favorite things if it didn’t tap into my childhood dreams of wanting to be a famous singer.

Many moons ago, I was at a wedding for my cousin. I’m not sure if it was her first wedding, but it wasn’t her last wedding. At the reception, they passed around a stapled pile of paper with songs listed on the pages, along with pieces of paper so you could write your name and what song you chose to have performed. I chose a Taylor Dayne song because I was young and obsessed with Taylor Dayne’s music. Of course, none of us knew what karaoke was, least of all my mom. So when my name was called and I had to come forward, I had already seen a few people singing so I knew what to expect. I was pumped and ready to sing me some Taylor Dayne! Some words came up on the screen, but since there wasn’t any music playing, I didn’t think much of it because it wasn’t Taylor Dayne, the words were “Mountain Music.” Surely it’s the company that made the karaoke stuff, right? Nope, it was a country song that I didn’t know at all. I was a young kid, standing in front of my extended family, apparently looking cute and precocious and stuff because I was confused about this song and how to sing it and why I was even performing it! Sometime later, I did finally sing my Taylor Dayne song. At least I think I sang it.

Sometime after that wedding reception, Mom bought me a karaoke cassette that had four Taylor Dayne songs and four Paula Abdul songs, with one side being instrumental and the other side having someone else doing the vocals. I did always enjoy singing along to the original Taylor Dayne albums, but I didn’t often play the karaoke cassette.

For my 21st birthday, my coworkers invited me out to do karaoke after work and to get my first ever alcoholic drink. To be honest, it was my first legal alcoholic drink, with my first ever alcoholic drink being consumed a few days prior. Anyway, I don’t remember what songs I performed, but I do remember an Asian guy singing She Will Be Loved with a moderate accent.

Since then, my karaoke experience has been Singers and SingStar. Singers is an awesome karaoke club in the area that’s open seven days a week. SingStar is a Playstation game. It all depends on whether or not I want to leave my dwelling, or rather it depends on whether or not I want to wear pants or pajamas, that determines if I’ll go out for karaoke or stay in. Singers has the most song choices, but Singers is convenient because I don’t have to go anywhere. Decisions, decisions.

When I lived in New Jersey, I missed Singers. Despite repeated promises to take me out for karaoke, my ex-fiance never followed through, but I doubt anyplace could ever compare to Singers. I did have SingStar, though, to satisfy any karaoke cravings I had.

When I moved back into the area, one thing led to another and I discovered this place called Palace Music Studio. I had to go, not because it was karaoke, but because it promised to have Japanese music to perform in private rooms like they have in Asian countries. Unfortunately their website didn’t even list examples of what artists’ songs you could expect to find, but it did say to make a reservation at least three days in advance.

I decided to try going without a reservation. So last Sunday, I went during business hours according to Google… and the place was closed. Depending on where you looked, whether you looked at Yelp or Google, there were different hours listed. While I was standing outside of a darkened storefront, I read the board that listed the hours and noted that the place was only open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Feeling bad for the reduced days of operation, I vowed to return on Thursday.

I figured if they had to reduce the days they were open, then Palace must not get a lot of business. So of course, I returned without a reservation on Thursday. I walked in and was greeted by a guy who was about my age and seemed to be about as Asian as I am, which is to say he wasn’t Asian at all. Mind you, Palace Music Studio is part of a group of four Asian businesses residing at one address, with each of the businesses having a strong Korean/Japanese influence. The restaurant in the plaza is Korean/Japanese, Han’s is Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Thai and what not, Tous les Jours is Korean/Japanese easily. So at Palace, I almost expected to be greeted by an Asian person. No big deal.

So I walked in, asked to do karaoke, was put in a room, and then the guy taught me how to use the controller before leaving me to my devices. The karaoke system is in Korean, with just enough English on the controller that I could navigate my way through the menus. I could choose which country’s music I wanted to perform, and I stayed in the Japan category. Now, I don’t know any Korean, so thankfully there was English on the controller and Japanese characters on the screen once I was in the Japan category. However, for what little Japanese I know, the alphabetical arrangement was a little off, assuming there was some semblance of alphabetical order. The printed book with all of the songs had some order to it, but it was still confusing to me. I found myself navigating on the controller and looking at all of the songs listed, until later on when I felt brave enough to flip through the book again.

I found… Hyde! Okay, we were off to a good start. I sang Hello, only to discover at the end that there was a scoring system. I got a 100, which I assume is the best I could do, but I don’t know what the basis was for the score. I found some L’arc en Ciel, I sang some L’arc en Ciel. I found Tetsu69, which is Tetsuya from L’arc en Ciel, and I sang Tightrope. I found Vamps! I sang Love Addict, which is completely in English! In fact, Love Addict was the only song where I didn’t use my phone. I actually pulled up song lyrics on my phone, because the karaoke visuals were in kanji. A few times I lost my place with the lyrics, and I actually had to use what little hiragana I knew to get myself back on track.

After a few songs, knowing I was nearing the one-hour mark, I decided to wrap things up by choosing one last song. That’s when I spotted Departures in the book. I punched in the number, queued it up, and sang it to the best of my knowledge and ability. Then I packed up, I grabbed the microphone and headed to the front desk to pay for my stay.

On the drive home, I was so giddy! It didn’t matter how well I did, because I was laughing at my mistakes as much as I was patting my back. It was just a great feeling to be able to do karaoke like that, to do Japanese songs that I liked and everything.

After I got back to my friend’s house, she asked me about how karaoke went. She thought I was meeting someone there, but I didn’t, I went alone and sang by myself. I honestly don’t think I have any friends around here who would be willing to do J-pop karaoke with me, at least not willingly. I know a few people who live closer to NYC and New Jersey who would be interested, but then I assume they’re too busy anyway. I’m not even bothered by going alone. Would awful Japanese karaoke performances be better with friends? Certainly. Do I need to bring friends along with me? Absolutely not. I’m quite comfortable doing my own thing, that I’m not hindered by the thought that I need to bring friends along with me when I go places.

When I finally get to Japan, I feel like I’ll survive somehow. I know I’ll post my experiences to Facebook for everyone to see, but I feel like I can otherwise manage without much socialization. And let’s not forget, there’s karaoke, there’s more Japanese karaoke for me to enjoy. The word is a contraction of “empty orchestra,” but I don’t mind the emptiness of the orchestra or the room as long as I’m filled with the happiness from just doing something I enjoy. Yeah, that was sappy. but it worked.

Horizon

I can’t begin to describe how bright the colors were, but I can try. The sky was a brilliant shade of azure, without a cloud to hide the warm rays of sunlight that were shining down upon the emerald green expanse. My mom and I were on a cliff that overlooked some plains that seemed to go on forever from where we stood. I wasn’t looking at the amazing view, however, I was looking at my mom, and I enjoyed seeing her there with me. I could hear Hyde’s song Horizon playing from somewhere, only to wake up and see it was playing on my computer.

I had that dream years ago when I first got into Japanese rock music and especially Hyde’s solo project outside of L’arc en Ciel. At the time, Mom was still alive, and Dad would’ve been alive as well I believe. I don’t know why my interest in Japanese music faded for a while, aside from saying that something in my life affected my interest.

After moving to New Jersey and being introduced to Mitsuwa Marketplace, my interest in Hyde Japanese music and everything else was brought to life once again. By that time, Mom had passed and Dad had already been deceased. Hearing Horizon once again actually became emotional for me, because I remembered the dream, I remembered seeing Mom and I wished I could use the song to teleport into the dream and live there.

If I ever hear someone perform the song in front of me, my heart may burst. Horizon opens with an acoustic guitar, then gradually adds drums, electric guitar and bass. For each of the verses and for the only English lyrics, the song drops back to the acoustic guitar backing. Unless, of course, it’s still just an electric guitar the whole time and it only sounds acoustic, in which case I’d still enjoy hearing an acoustic guitar version.

The lyrics speak of lost love, of wanting to wake up to a partner and be held by them once more. It’s a romantic loss, not the loss of a parent, though there are days when I would like to wake up to the sound of my mother’s voice (even if she’s yelling at me to get out of bed) and know that she’s still with me. A loss is a loss, whether it’s a parent or the greatest love of your life, and Horizon captures the pain and depression that comes from the grief and the absence. There’s a lyric that, roughly translated, talks about barbed wire wrapping around him, and that it becomes tighter the more he struggles. The more you think about the one you’ve lost, and the more you realize that maybe they’re not coming back, the more it hurts deep inside.

You can find the lyrics at Centigrade-J, but Horizon was released as a single so you can find an official music video for it as well. I recommend buying Hyde’s album 666, because Horizon is on that album along with Hello, Midnight Celebration (which he still performs at Vamps concerts), and a few other songs that are worth hearing.

And you can expect me to talk about other songs that Hyde has performed, but I do have other performers who are worth a discussion. If you’re expecting me to not talk about how a song relates to my life, that’s something I won’t change. I don’t like songs just because they sound amazing, I like music because it connects to my life and emotions. To me, that’s what a good song is supposed to do, and that’s how I want to share my favorite songs with others.

Departures

Over on Facebook, a stranger I added posted a video of Hyde singing a song called Departures. I listened to the song as Hyde performed it, then looked up the lyrics and found the song was originally performed by a group called Globe.

Without a translation of the lyrics, the song does something to my heart that I can’t quite explain. The feeling is somewhere between my heart being squeezed, my heart strings being pulled, and my heart wanting to explode. I have this awareness of the presence of my heart. I don’t know if it makes me want to love because of how wonderful love is, or if I want to love because I want my heart to ache in much the same way that a shattered mirror is beautiful in how the pieces have scattered.

Departures has an upbeat melody, with notes that seem to flow in water or perhaps float on air. In this way, the music deceives you into thinking it could be a happy song, but Departures is actually kind of sad. The song is reaching out to the singer’s lost love, recalling moments when things were good between them and longing for the return of the partner who departed after things seemed to hit a rough patch.

The song often mentions winter and snowfall in such a way that I’m reminded of a lyric from a song by Savage Garden. I Don’t Know You Anymore has a lyric that goes, “the snow was more lonely than cold, if you know what I mean.” Departures existed as a song before Savage Garden was famous, but the Savage Garden lyric seems to echo the sentiment of Departures. Departures mentions wanting to play in the snow, which isn’t exciting to do when you’re alone. The song also talks about the long winter nights. I do know what the Savage Garden lyric means; there’s a certain something to the snow-filled months that are better when you’re not single. Autumn isn’t romantic, it’s a nice time to bundle up in a blanket and read a book while drinking warm apple cider. Winter is all about doing things with the person you love, whether it’s ice skating together or warming up by the fire. It’s about seeing someone you love as they light up as much as a Christmas tree when you give them the right gifts or you show them amazing decorations. It’s fitting, then, that Departures has a wintery theme, suggesting that the season is the reason for the singer to reminisce about the past and the love that got away.

The Globe recording of the song features a lovely female vocalist. I do prefer Hyde’s vocals, however, and I might be partial to him because he’s a favorite Japanese singer and songwriter. The song feels like a natural fit for Hyde, as if it was a song from his album Roentgen or if it was a ballad he recorded for L’arc en Ciel or Vamps. Both versions of Departures are ear candy, and I wouldn’t discourage anyone from downloading the Globe version from iTunes just because I had a vocalist preference.

A studio recording of Hyde singing Departures can be found on YouTube. The translated lyrics are supplied by Centigrade-J, with the original lyrics posted elsewhere. It’s such a good song that I’ve been playing it repeatedly for the past hour without wanting to listen to anything else, though I chose to repeat the one song so I could still focus on it while writing about it. Not everyone will enjoy the song to that extent, but I’m sure Departures will be appreciated by anyone who is willing to listen.