Every so often a part of a song will start running through my head, and occasionally it happens consistently enough with a place or an activity that it becomes part of my perception of that experience. Tokyo is no exception, and bits and pieces of the following songs keep coming to mind while out and about in the city.
“Burgundy Shoes” – Patty Griffin – An incredibly beautiful and simple song that pops into mind quite often when walking across the bridges over the canals near my flat.
“The Tower” – Vienna Teng – To my individualistic mind, the collective existence that is Tokyo living seems to be held up by millions of people who have made a passion of “needing not to need” – as evidenced by the tough old birds who will stand next to an empty seat on the train because they don’t want to look like they need it.
“We Were Sleeping” – Carrie Newcomer – Another song that is beautiful in it’s simplicity and seems to be perfectly matched to the very visible processes of environmental creation and change that take place in Japan.
“The Tide Falls Away” – Dar Williams- My walk to the train station takes me over a floating bridge that rises and falls with the tide. Tokyo also has an incredibly deep history just under the surface of the modern buildings, and this song pops into mind every time I stumble across a gap in the modern world where old Tokyo is still hiding in plain sight.
“Serving Girls Holiday” – Kate Rusby – Tokyo is notable among places I have been in that the city runs by the efforts of thousands of people who do not seem to have holidays or even weekends. This is my favorite song for those who make holidays happen for others.
“Indiana” – Jon McLaughlin – Another one of the clean and simple songs that melds well with the sedate side of Japanese culture… and it would be very hard to come up with a song more fitting for the two very different worlds of Rurikia and Tokyo.
“Nowhere” – Lucy Kaplansky – Tokyo is a fairly warm and dry place, but there have been a few days of “winter” where the wind and water combine to be noticeable… and walking home into it is the perfect time for this song to come to mind.
“Break my Stride”- Matthew Wilder – This is the theme song to Shinagawa station when I am heading against the tide of commuters. A stream of humanity, all weaving through each other and missing by milliseconds, but each person maintains their own stride.
“Cherry Tree” – 10,000 Maniacs – It’s not even cherry blossom season yet, but “all those lines and circles, to me a mystery” is the best way to sum up the feeling of being illiterate.
“May We Be Released” – Carrie Newcomer – A bit of a heavy song, but loaded with imagery incredibly well suited for those of us having the opportunity to live in other cultures. “When the truth catches your eye may you have the grace to stop.” I can’t think of a better mantra for the traveler.