One might assume that this would be Fairytale in New York (sans the very un-PC term) as it’s my first Christmas in the city, and I am indeed a massive Pogues fan. But none of this quite fits into my parallel life – the one happily enslaved to everything Japanese. [Though it should be mentioned that The Pogues have always enjoyed success in Japan, and one of my favorite Japanese groups, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, cited them as an influence.
The song that I’ve decided best accompanies the snowbanked, twinkling, nighttime streets of NYC is Geometry 246 by Yusaku Matsuda (please excuse my soppy comment on the video). It hits that emotional pitch between passion and woe that everyone I speak to about this city has felt. It’s like lonesome claustrophobia, yet somehow feels just right. The live performance has that raw, ephemeral sensation, and out does the recorded version in my opinion. There is definitely a similar connection I have with this song at Christmas as there has been for Fairytale of New York. Both have that doleful self-reflection on a life that is drifting into free fall, quietly suffering a panic attack, and weeping over lost chances or lost love…all at once.
That’s how they make me feel, anyway. 物の哀れ (mono no aware) is a quality I’ve come to know more intimately in studying Japan. Though it is widely held that as a foreigner I will never truly grasp the concept, it is equally viewed as imperative for me to try. I suppose that in itself could be mono no aware: despite the certainty of failure, I will forever have to try and understand.
Almost any route of Japanophilia will likely have lead to one of the Matsuda clan, with the spirit of Yusaku-san at it’s cultural apex and holding a constant relevance in Japanese movies and music. My knowledge of his work is still more based on what I read than his acting and music; though he and his kin have sort of become a Polaris in my studies.
Well, best wishes from me for the holidays and upcoming New Year. I hope this track is a balm to any other worried, dazed souls out there.