Saturday, December 13, 2008
Ue wo muite arukou - and the decade when we were true cosmopolitans
Earlier this year, I wrote an article on how, back in the 1960s, Britain was much more open to European cultural influences than it is today. But Britain- and the US- wasn't just more open to European culture, but the culture of other nations too.
I was reminded of just how cosmopolitan the world was before the turbo-globalists took over while listening to the excellent Sound of the 60s show on Radio 2 earlier today.
Can you imagine a song, sung entirely in Japanese, getting to the top of the US pop charts today- and staying there for three weeks? No, me neither.
The song in question 'Ue wo muite arukou' or 'Sukiyaki' as it was marketed in the US and Britain-became a huge international hit (it reached number six in Britain) and spawned several cover versions. None were quite as good as the original, which you can see being sung above by Kyu Sakamoto.
The sad truth is that the era of turbo-globalisation hasn't led to a greater cross-fertilisation of cultures as its supporters claimed it would - but the overwhelming dominance of an introspective, bland and dumbed-down transatlantic global culture that isn't a patch on the true, life-enhancing cosmopolitanism we had in the 1960s.
Take it away, Kyu.