For many decades now, international artists have often felt the need to put pen to paper and write some lyrics about their Japanese experience, particularly visiting Tokyo. Most of the songs are far from being their greatest work but for Japanophiles they can offer an interesting insight into a culture which used to be a mystery to many people in the western world. Without further ado, here is the Tokyo Fox top ten……songs about Japan from the 1960s and 1970s…
10. Tonight In Tokyo – Sandie Shaw (1967) – The English singer’s follow up to the number one single ‘Puppet On A String‘ was a bit of a disappointment as it only got to 21 in the UK chart. Bright lights and Geisha girls are referenced in this song about a boy being alone in the Japanese capital and missing his girlfriend back home.
9. Tokyo Joe – Bryan Ferry (1977) – The second single from the Roxy Music singer’s fourth solo album is about Ferry’s fascination with cinema (not sure if it was inspired in any way by the 1949 film of the same name) and is a celebration of ‘femme-fatale’.
8. 30 Seconds Over Tokyo – Pere Ubu (1975) – Another song named after a film though yet again I’m not sure if there’s any connection between the 1940s war movie and this rather strange song from the American rock group famed for their avant-garage sound.
7. Touch – Lori & The Chameleons (1979) – Quite a strange song from this new wave band that released just a couple of singles. This was the first and it was based on singer Lori Lartey’s holiday in Tokyo two years earlier.
6. Love In Tokyo – The Honeycombs (1965) – This fairly catchy little number was the 12th track on the English beat group’s second album ‘All Systems – Go!‘
5. Godzilla – Blue Öyster Cult (1978) – This was the first track on the American hard rock band’s fifth studio album. Though unsuccessful on first release it did go on to become something of a hit and was very much a staple of their concerts. It’s even been covered by The Smashing Pumpkins, and another cover by Serj Tankian featured in ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ (2019).
4. One Rainy Night In Tokyo – Brenda Lee (1965) – Personally I only know the name of this American pop and country singer because of the festive classic ‘Rockin Around The Christmas Tree‘ but she has a vast discography. Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems like this was only released in Japan on 7 inch with the A-Side sung in Japanese and the B-side in English.
3. Outside Tokyo – The Stranglers (1978) – The third track on the British rock band’s third album ‘Black and White‘ is a tune of heavy walking bass, light drumming and slightly off-tune singing! I thought it was quite depressing on first listen but it really grew on me and I like it a lot.
2. Woman From Tokyo – Deep Purple (1973) – Surely there can’t be a better song than this one about a Japanese girl whose charms fascinate this famous hard rock band! Sadly, there is (in my opinion!) but this one is one of the most famous and it received heavy radio airplay at the time. It’s the opening track on their seventh studio album ‘Who Do We Think We Are‘.
1. Made In Japan – Buck Owens (1973) – Far less cool than some of the other tracks included in this list but, for me, this is a real feel-good track and one that I’ve even used as a gap-fill exercise in English lessons. This song featured in ‘Jackass: The Movie‘ (2002) during the big gong scene.
That’s the ten songs I’ve chosen but are there any others which you think should be included. Let me know about them in the comments below or just tell me what your favourites (60’s and 70s only for now please!) are.
Click here to read ‘TF Top 10……Music Videos Filmed In Japan’
Click here to read ‘Turning Japanese – Songs About Japan’