The Highway to Hell Is the Road to Paradise City ? Running Thoughts and Music Notes

Went out for a five-miler today. First time in a long time. I am definitely not in great shape currently, and I huffed and puffed and struggled.

Music I’ve been jamming to across the last few months when I have gotten out includes The Smiths, Phoenix, various ambient and deep house tunes, AC/DC, and other stuff.

The star of the show (or run) today, however, was one of my favorite Japanese rock bands: Asian Kung-Fu Generation. I ran mostly to 2008’s World World World.

It’s a poppy-melancholic J-rock album, with interesting guitars, emotional vocals sung in a kind of resigned yet hopeful fashion by a guy with a cool, actually unique voice (music can be very cookie-cutter here) and just the slightest whispers of emo, with waves of pop-punk and sometimes even a kind of Weezer influence.

My favorite song from the album, which sums up their droning guitars, frustrated and hopeful “I want to changed the world but am also fucking tired of it all,” and overall sound of the sun setting on the suburban sprawl of a Saitama Sunday, is “Aru Machi no Gunjō” / 「或る街の群青」. The song’s English title is now listed on Apple Music as “A Town in Blue,” but the word “gunjō” actually means “ultramarine,” and I feel like that was the English title a while back — “A Town in Ultramarine.”

Either way, this tune was also featured on the Tekkonkinkreet soundtrack. The way I felt at the end of that fantastic animated film with those opening, clean droning guitar tones gently ringing out over the dull murmur of a crowd is hard to encapsulate. Something about it.

All that said, I was huffing and puffing and hurting at the end of this album, because I was still running, and wanted to make my goal. That pain is great, though, because it means you are making progress. I put on some AC/DC and “Highway to Hell” functioned as a drug, taking some of the sting out of the struggle. Then George Thorogood’s “I Drink Alone” came on, and I was almost at the train station. The Apple Music app was doing its own algorithm thing now and chose “Paradise City” as the next song, and that’s what I finished to. I would have never chosen that on my own, but it turned out to be the perfect jam to round out the run, and bring me home to the paradise of a feeling of accomplishment and that “good tired.” Not to mention the twisted thrill of being on the verge of wanting to puke, as I had run fasted, having just two cups of coffee in the morning.

Sitting there on the bench at Niitsu Station, I was glad I did it. Sore hip, out-of-shape condition notwithstanding. I did it. A paradise feeling.

By Voluntary Japan

Living life.

3 replies on “The Highway to Hell Is the Road to Paradise City ? Running Thoughts and Music Notes”

あのギターとヴォーカルと… それとあのバンドはヴォーカルの響き方が不思議な独特の音響処理してるかのように私には聴こえます。



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