山下智久(Yamashita Tomohisa) – I, Texas / 愛、テキサス: A Brand New Start

Yamashita Tomohisa, a popular Japanese singer and actor (I would put him into the category of “idols”), released his new solo single “I, Texas / 愛、テキサス”.

Due to copyright issues, there is no legitimate MV available on Youtube. Following is a link to a certified website which has the MV for “I, Texas” legally under copyright regulations:  http://www.yinyuetai.com/video/365472

If you are unfamiliar with Yamashita Tomohisa (usually called YamaPi among fans), please let me do a brief introduction of him. Yamashita joined Johnny’s Entertainment at the age of 11 and debuted as a member of a idolistic boy group, “News” and released many songs and albums both with his group and solo, such as “Loveless” and “One In A Million“. Yamashita also acted in dramas and movies, such as “Buzzer Beat”, “Kurosagi / The Black Swindler” and “Ashita No Jo / Tomorrow’s Joe (Trailer and Entire Movie  both available as linked)”. In 2011, Yamashita quit the group News, and started his new journey in this industry that he’s been in for more than half of his life on his own.

So, in some way, “I, Texas” is Yamashita Tomohisa’s first real solo. As if declaring his independence from News and the previous “YamaPi”, Yamashita Tomohisa largely altered his previous R&B and pop music style (You can see the changes very easily by contrasting “I, Texas” to “Loveless” and “One In A Million”) in “I, Texas”, his new single. “I, Texas” has a very funky and strange taste to it: It sounds almost nothing like songs that idols would sing – it doesn’t sound pop, but the melody of the song – especially the underlying guitar melody – is catchy enough to fit the song into the category “pop”. It sounds country as the guitar progresses, but compared to the cozy laziness that country songs have, this song has more a feeling of wandering and wilderness. The song has a light-hearted melody, but the sense of carefree attitude didn’t sound like it came naturally – it sounded more like it came from one’s tiredness of the world’s sophistication. The instrumental is entirely built with guitars, drums and western-seasoned midi effects, and for sure no traditional Japanese instruments were utilized, however, the song overall reminds me of those small Japanese traditional restaurants in 1950 to 1960’s, when the modern world was just starting to fuse in, when the old traditions were still very well kept.

Many people would sigh about how cheap the MV is produced, or how much the title “I, Texas” doesn’t make sense. Yes, the music video is indeed way too cheap – it’s such a disappointment that Yamashita Tomohisa’ first legitimate solo didn’t get more support in production. What’s more, Yamashita Tomohisa actually went on a road trip himself all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles, filming a documentary of it called “Route 66” – he indeed drove through Texas himself, with a camera guy accompanying him! Why in the world didn’t Johnny’s or Warner Music Japan just film the music video “by the way”? The whole green screen and cheesy transition in the MV just look ridiculous.

However, my disappointment was soothed by the creativity and puns expressed by the title of the song along with the meaning of lyrics. The title “I, Texas” actually can be read in three different ways:

  • “愛, Texas”: 愛 means “Love”, so the title becomes “Love, Texas”. No matter what this love is for: a certain girl, a certain home, or the city, the land, the Texas itself, “Love, Texas” expresses the attachment of a person to Texas, which gives nostalgic feeling to the song.
  • “I, Texas”: This illustration of the title ties the self and Texas together, and the comma builds the meaning of “Me in Texas”, which gives a sense of loneliness: it’s just me, and Texas, and nobody, and nothing else.
  • “Ai, Texas”: In this illustration of the title, rather than meaning any solid word like Love or Self, “Ai” represents the sound of a sigh, which turns the song into a plaint. It could be a sigh toward the land Texas, it could be a sigh toward some certain things that happened in Texas, or it could be a sigh toward life, a life that resembles the broad wilderness of Texas – bleak but vast, covered by dusts and pain yet filled with hope and potentials.

Of course, the three layers of the meaning of the title of this song didn’t come from nowhere – the story is hidden behind the lyrics. The lyrics did not explicitly tell any of the cause and effect of the story – even the storyline itself remains unclear, however, the half-revealed story is enough for building the mental state of this “Me”, the main character of the story, and therefore explain where the meanings of the title comes from. What stunned me was the incredible connection between the lyrics the title and the contradicting light-hearted melody and rhythm. The subtle but great attitude toward life and the worldview this song expresses also stuns me:

“Whatever happened yesterday, it won’t come back today or tomorrow – the good, the bad, the joy, the love, the crime, the punishment. Though carrying much pain, regret and sorrow, I have to face the infinite sky and the upcoming tomorrow, and go continue my journey of life. Not that I like it, but I just have to. So take it easy, though life is heavy and hard.”

Wow.

However, in the end, this is just my personal read into this song. Just like the title itself can be read in 3 different ways, a song can be read in infinite different ways. Agree with me or not, I hope you can look at the lyrics and listen to the song, feel it, and develop your read into it. Only one thing is for sure: “I, Texas”, along with its funky music style, punned title and deep meaning within the song, is definitely the brand new start for Yamashita Tomohisa, for his music journey, and for his journey in life.

LYRICS TRANSLATION

the biting of his nails,
casts a shadow on my memory
the sadness in these eyes
is it the reflection of my sins?

aimlessly aimlessly swaying
cheating , wandering, getting lost
his voice is echoing
shooting inside my head
the deep pain of leaving is red colored
but any kind of pain is lovely

don’t you think so? in any relation
if there’s hope then it’s enough
the craziness of this world
leaves a gentle kiss
the dry lips’ bleeding
is it my punishment?

running, running hiding
am I that coward?
laughing inside
because you cannot kill the devil
why is there such a thing as ending
we were only born to die
don’t let me down
please let there be some light in the cloudy weather

Talk part:
     That day, we were drinking tequila as always.
     I smiled as I heard him said he’s getting married.
     If I said: “I would be the cause of your death”, I bet he would laugh.

the deep pain of leaving colored in red
but any kind of pain is lovely
(I have) decide to get ready
leave the past in the desert
embrace that sad’s person’s mirage
Ai, Texas.

(Credits: Rima-no-yume@LJ)

 

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*Picture, videos and lyrics all come from the Internet. All rights related to them reserved to original authors.

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This entry was published on April 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm. It’s filed under J-pop, Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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