Japanese title: カラスの女房
Romaji title: karasu no nyoubou
English title: The Raven’s Wife
Release date: 1998.08.05 (CD) / 1998.10.21 (Cassette)
Catalog nr: EPDE-1006 (CD) / EPTE-1006 (Cassette)
First press: no
«Karasu no Nyoubou» is Yuko Nakazawa‘s debut single, released both as an 8 cm CD single and on cassette tape.
The single was released on August 5th, 1998 on the record label zetima. It contains the title track and its instrumental, as well as a b-side (Otonashibashi). The single sold 80.675 copies and reached #19 on the Oricon charts.
Nakazawa lost an audition which aired on the talent search TV show ASAYAN back in 1997. Along with four other girls who lost, she would go on to be in a group called Morning Musume. Shortly after the release of their first album, Nakazawa was approached and offered a career as a solo singer in addition to being in the group. The CEO of the group’s agency (UFA, now called UFT) wanted her to be an enka singer, for which Nakazawa had this to say:
» […]my manager/agent asked me, “Hey Nakazawa. Why don’t we go back to the office together?” …How scary it is! […] So my reaction was, “Oh my goodness. I think he is going to yell at me privately. I am in trouble.” So, I got on a van, which was filled with camera crew, and I immediately thought, “Are they filming ASAYAN?”. Yes, I clearly remember, including the face of the camera guy. […] So here I was, at the office. And as I entered into the president’s suite, I saw another camera crew standing by to film me. […] Then, suddenly, they told me the news: “Hey Nakazawa, I know you just made a debut as a member of Morning Musume. But we’ll let you debut as a solo singer.”
“What?! Me? As a solo singer?” I was excited and elated at first, just during that brief period of time. Then they said, “As an enka singer.”…”What? No way.” I mean, I went through the process of “SharamQ Rock Music Vocalist Audition” and successfully debut as a J-pop singing group, Morning Musume. So why on earth Enka? I was unable to give them my answer right away and I was just crying at that moment because I had no idea what was going on. So I just told them, “I am very sorry but I am unable to give you any answer right now.” And I just went home. I usually don’t consult much with my mother, but this time, I had to ask her opinion. She said, “Are you an idiot? How can you pass up such a wonderful opportunity? There are 50,000 people in this country who are desperate to become a singer and are dying to be in your position right now. And you can debut with Takao Horiuchi’s song. ” […] The next day, I told my manager/agent about how I felt, and he said, “Well, if your mind isn’t 100% with this decision, you might as well quit.” That really turned on my competitiveness. I was like, “What the heck is he saying?” His words of not fully following my decision were a bit insulting to me, and I wanted to prove that he was wrong. Maybe he used a reverse psychology on me. Who knows?«
Back then (and even now) she was very much aware of her age (she was 24 at the time). Enka is considered old people’s music, that’s why I think it hit her so hard emotionally; it’s like everyone around her confirmed she was «old».
Nakazawa said in an interview in 2008:
«Honestly, I don’t remember what was going on back then. I remember I went to Japanese inns, beer gardens, Japanese bars etc. […] I remember my staff was wearing Happi-clothing with a lettering of “Karasu No Nyoubou” on their backs while they were handing out promotional flyers and talking to people, “This is Yuko Nakazawa from Morning Musume. She made a solo debut. Please give her a warm support.” One day, a drunken guy took a flyer out of someone’s hand, made it into a ball and ate it. […] Yes, things were a bit chaotic back then.»
«As for this song [Karasu no Nyoubou], back then, assuming because of the music TV programs, people were very much concerned with the ranking position on the music charts. As for me, whether it was Morning Musume’s debut single or a second single, it didn’t matter at what position the song was being ranked. But they began talking about “Karasu No Nyoubou” and what position it was going to be placed as it was being released.
[…] my manager/agent [Kaoru Wada] at that time made a bold comment saying, “If the song won’t be positioned within 10th, I’m going to shave my head.” […] “Karasu No Nyoubou” was placed 19th during its first week of the release. The day after I saw the result, I already knew. I was thinking, “Oh no, it didn’t make it within 10th place.” I’m sure others had the same thing on their minds. At a photo studio in Tokyo, there was a photo shoot of Morning Musume so I was there with other members. They gave me warm words like, “Wow, Yu-chan, you did a great job. We saw the ranking result. That’s really cool.” While I was showered by the congratulatory words, my manager/agent walked in and his head was fully shaved…Oh my goodness, I was so scared! (bitter laughter)»
Takao Horiuchi (the composer of «Karasu no Nyoubou») released this song as his 43rd single on November 21st, 1998. He then re-released it as «new version» on his 50th single in 2004 (which was used as the theme song to the detective series «Hagure Keiji Junjou wa»). The new version was also performed at the New Year’s show «NHK Kouhaku Utagassen» by Horiuchi. The song has also appeared on various compilation albums.
01. カラスの女房 (Karasu no Nyoubou; The Raven's Wife)
02. 音無橋 (Otonashibashi; Silent Bridge)
03. カラスの女房 (Instrumental)
カラスの女房 (Karasu no Nyoubou)
Lyrics: Toyohisa Araki | Music: Takao Horiuchi | Arrangement: Eiji Kawamura
Lyrics: Eiji Takino | Music: Takao Horiuchi | Arrangement: Izumi Imai