Monday, April 03, 2023

Song of the Day: 'Heartbeat' by Ryuichi Sakamoto featuring David Sylvian and Ingrid Chavez

Was saddened to hear about the death of Ryuichi Sakamoto, an Oscar-winning Japanese composer whose work I knew and loved mainly because he seemed to collaborate with every cool artist I was a fan of back in my youth, most notably Roddy Frame (Aztec Camera) and David Sylvian (Japan) as well as Thomas Dolby, Iggy Pop and David Byrne. 
Sakamoto, one of Japan’s most prominent composers and a founder of the influential Yellow Magic Orchestra techno-pop band who scored films including “The Last Emperor,” “The Sheltering Sky” and “The Revenant,” died on Tuesday. He was 71.

Mr. Sakamoto was beginning to achieve wide recognition in the early 1980s when the director Nagisa Oshima asked him to co-star, alongside David Bowie, in “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,” a 1983 film about a Japanese P.O.W. camp. Mr. Sakamoto, having no background in acting, agreed under the condition that he could also score the film.

He also played roles in "The Last Emperor" (as Masahiko Amakasu) and Madonna's "Rain" music video.  

Now I'm not saying I killed Sakamoto -- he'd been battling cancer for years -- or that I'm a witch. (This rabbit hole is weird, though.) But as has happened repeatedly in recent years, I was JUST thinking about/researching him in the days before he expired, which is where I learned that it was while David Sylvian -- a childhood idol of mine -- was working with Sakamoto on the latter's brilliant 1992 single "Heartbeat" that the former met future wife Ingrid Chavez. a singer and actress who had been a member of Prince's inner circle.

I discovered this without realizing that Chavez was the same woman I had looked up a few weeks before this when I discovered she is supposedly the actual writer (or at least co-writer) of "Justify My Love," a song that was originally credited to Lenny Kravitz (and additional lyrics by Madonna). Chavez reportedly got an out-of-court settlement and then released her own version of the song. (She and Sylvian would go on to have two children before divorcing in 2003.)

RIP, Mr. Sakamoto. And thanks for the music, by which there is so much to remember you. 


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