The Sukiyaki Song
March 3, 2005 8:37 AM   Subscribe

The Sukiyaki Song [mp3] Depending on your age, you may have heard your parents humming this, or even hummed it yourself. Sung by Kyu Sakamoto, the Sukiyaki Song was the only number 1 hit by a Japanese artist in the US, in 1963. It remains the biggest international hit by a Japanese popular singer. The song has nothing to do with the popular Japanese beef dish; the Japanese title was "Ue o Muite Aruko" (I Look Up When I Walk), but was changed because it was thought that western DJs would be unable to pronounce it. The song spawned many covers, and Maddmansrealm has collected over 60 of these, including French and German versions, bossa nova versions, a short accordion version by Styx, and a live instrumental version by Bob Dylan and Tom Petty [mp3s]. Kyu Sakamoto died in 1985 in the crash of JAL 123.
posted by carter (20 comments total)
great post, but the mp3 link is getting fried, i think.
posted by moonbird at 9:07 AM on March 3, 2005

One of my favorite songs, and I will look forward to all of those covers just as soon as we stop killing the guy's site.
posted by briank at 9:12 AM on March 3, 2005

Funny how music can transcend time and culture. I was just a kid when this came out, and at the time I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever heard. Helped me understand there really were people over there just like us.

Didn't know about JAL 123.
posted by scheptech at 9:17 AM on March 3, 2005

Kyu Sakamoto and Izumi Yakimura are two of my, what some call rokabiri, favorites. thanks!
posted by rokabiri at 10:03 AM on March 3, 2005

Wicked post, I can't wait to listen to all the covers. The original song is excellent.
posted by chunking express at 10:31 AM on March 3, 2005

Thanks for this post--this is the first song my parent's danced to in maybe 62 or 63!
posted by jdl at 10:35 AM on March 3, 2005

The ironic part about changing the name to make it easier to pronounce is that most English speakers mispronounce it.
posted by ilsa at 10:48 AM on March 3, 2005

Mental Floss is ahead of the game!
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:29 AM on March 3, 2005

Anyone have a mirror? It's downloading at 0.3k/second. Will take like eight HOURS at the present speed. :-)
posted by Malor at 1:34 PM on March 3, 2005

Yoinks! Apologies for the bandwidth issues. It's always worked smoothly for me. I guess I didn't envisage the effect of hordes of MeFi Sakamoto fans descending on it :O
posted by carter at 1:45 PM on March 3, 2005

even if I couldn't download any of it, thanks for the post, I guess. it's a very cool song
posted by matteo at 1:54 PM on March 3, 2005

The correct title is actually "Ue o mite aruko." (Mite being the -te form of the verb miru which means to look.) "Muite" would be a conjugation of the verb "muku" which, to my knowledge, does not exist. :)

Good song though... I will try to download it later.
posted by salad spork at 2:22 PM on March 3, 2005

I can't wait until the site comes back up, if it ever does. I want every single one of these MP3s.

(I'm the guy who calls WQSR on their "Sing For Your Song Weekends" and requests Sakamoto Kyuu-chan, much to the DJs' alarm."
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:06 PM on March 3, 2005

I gave up on the link and Gnutella'd this bad boy -- for research purposes only, I swear! I grew up in easy-listening "beautiful music" hell audiowise (what can I say, my parents were WW II generation), so I instantly recognized the melody even though I'm sure I've never heard this original version of it.

As soon as I heard the song, I was floored by Kyu Sakamoto's singing. If his English had been up to it, he could've been an American pop sensation to rival Neil Sedaka and Pat Boone. The sound of it is such that I can easily imagine it might've been popular in the US in the early Sixties despite the language barrier.
posted by alumshubby at 3:07 PM on March 3, 2005

JAl 123:

posted by kuatto at 4:07 PM on March 3, 2005

The correct title is actually "Ue o mite aruko." (Mite being the -te form of the verb miru which means to look.) "Muite" would be a conjugation of the verb "muku" which, to my knowledge, does not exist. :)

Wrong, salad spork. "muku" does exist and means roughly "to face something." So literally, the song's title means "Let's walk while facing upward" although a more idiomatic translation might be "Let's look up when we walk" or "Keep walking with your head up", meaning be optimistic, don't let the daily drudgery keep you down, have dreams etc.
posted by sour cream at 6:05 PM on March 3, 2005

conditional [this is good]- I can't wait to hear this now.
posted by dhruva at 9:39 PM on March 3, 2005

Is the site completely gone now? Is there a mirror somewhere?
posted by 235w103 at 12:58 AM on March 4, 2005

For whatever bizarre reason, this song entered my head the other day. I only know it because I had possession of my aunt's 45 collection at one time. Interesting to know the year, I think she may have been a senior that year. I'm amazed to find a post on MeFi about it.

I agree, his voice was wonderful. I only recall ever having heard one cover, don't remember who's.
posted by Goofyy at 1:54 AM on March 4, 2005

I think it was A Taste of Honey who had a cover hit of it in about 1978. That's the one I'm familiar with, though at the time I did hear Casey Kasem play a bit of the original on American Top 40.
posted by litlnemo at 2:08 AM on March 4, 2005

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