Perhaps the oddest song to rule the U.S. Music charts in the 1960’s was the one and only full on Japanese recording called “Sukiyaki” ( yes, like the food ) by Kyu (as in cue) Sakamoto The record burst onto the U.S. Charts the first week of June in 1963, went straight to number one and held the position for 3 weeks! We received little to no information from our local D.J. or fan mags about this odd recording that sounded like “our parents music” by an unknown vocalist, Kyu Sakamoto, whose name we couldn’t pronounce. The songs original title was, “Ue o Miute Aroku” which loosely translates to “I look up when I walk, so my tears won’t fall”…..Yeah, “Sukiyaki” is basically a “Love gone wrong song” But the U.S. Record label changed the title to “Sukiyaki.” A word that never appears in the song, and has nothing to do with the lyric, the label picked it because they thought it was the only Japanese word Americans may recognize and repeat!
Kyu, meanwhile was a handsome talented singer/actor/ musician showing up on “Bandstand” Ed Sullivan etc. and somehow breaking through and appealing to America’s youth! Made even more difficult by the fact that in 1963 many of our parents were still holding a huge racist grudge against the Japanese from Pearl Harbor and World War II. “Sukiyaki continued on to become a number one record around the world with sales in excess of 13 million singles.
Our fondest memory of this record was singing along with it and mispronouncing the Japanese lyrics struggling to translate and make sense of it…….”Oh how are you ooo ooo ooh, give me a call al al all” something like that! Admit it, you did the same, dintja?
OK. Lotus Blossom it’s time to sing along with Kyu…