Saturday, May 20

Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Tibetan Dance"

This version of a live rendition of Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Tibetan Dance" is from the blowout Heartbeat Tour, recorded February 6, 1992 at the Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, which has become my favorite concert of secular music. But I'd overlooked that one song until now, when I guess the YouTube music gods decided they'd heard enough of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's version of "Allah Hoo" for one night  (I do tend to play that qawwali a lot) and deposited "Tibetan Dance'" in the YouTube sidebar.
The Heartbeat version was uploaded to YouTube by "jack19998" on November 30, 2009. Thanks to him!  

The same song was recorded live in 1988 at another great Sakamoto playdate, the Neo Geo concert ni New York City. This version features a trio of Okinawan singers -- the same ones who brought down the house with the show-stopping "Neo Geo" song at that same concert, which I've already featured here. There's also a Western singer contributing to the "Tibetan Dance" set in New York, and there are lyrics with this version, whereas the Heartbeat Tour substitutes scat singing for lyrics. 

The Neo Geo concert version of "Tibetan Dance" was uploaded to YouTube on October 13, 2008 by Nightwalk -- many thanks.

Someone in the comment section, "Dominickaroo97," wrote out the lyrics, what he could understand of them:

"these skies are neon
dressed in a smile the music danceshigh blue skies before methey fill my eyes with love and joy inside look inside you what did I findthe east and west combined"yeah that's all I have

There are complaints from a few listeners at YouTube that "Tibetan Dance" has nothing whatsoever to do with Tibetan music or dance. The replies from other commenters are generally patient and wise; one commenter, "Razor Edge, noted in answer:
Like much of Sakamoto's music, this song is a fusion of Tibetan music with other traditions, such as Okinawan music (i.e. those female singers are Okinawan folk musicians). The titles for some of his songs are partially misnomers as they only represent one part of the song. For example, his 1989 song "Calling From Tokyo" sounds more like a fusion of Okinawan, African, Indian and Arabic music rather than Tokyo music.
Indeed. But my answer would be to ask whether the complainers had ever tried doing a Tibetan folk dance to the sounds of "Tibetan Dance."

[smiling] I don't think Tibetan dancers would have any trouble keeping up.

And if you imagine yourself on a very, very high mountain under a cloudless blue Tibetan sky, clapping and dancing to the riotously cheery "Tibetan Dance" you'll reflect, I think, the mood and meaning of the song. Life is a vale of suffering but sometimes, just sometimes, we stand at the peak and realize there's nothing to do but celebrate existence.
"these skies are neon 
dressed in a smile the music dances
high blue skies before me"

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