Takada Wataru – Life Pattern

高田渡 ー 生活の柄 (英訳)

Takada Wataru performs “Life Pattern” live

Takada Wataru – Life Pattern
(adapted from poem by Yamanokuchi Baku)

Tired from walking
I crawled into in a crack between the night sky and the earth
buried myself in grass and slept
anywhere, everywhere I slept.
Tired from walking
buried beneath grass I slept.
Walking, tired,
I slept but
I could not sleep

These days I can’t sleep
spread out on the earth I can’t sleep
beneath the night sky I can’t sleep
shaken awake I can’t sleep

Tired from walking
buried beneath grass I slept
Walking, tired,
I slept but
I could not sleep

Such is my life pattern but
it’s suited for summer, right?
I sleep a bit and
I sleep a bit and
once more I’m mocked by the cold breeze

the autumn
from the autumn 
I’ll stay a vagrant that can’t sleep

Tired from walking
I crawled into in a crack between the night sky and the earth
buried myself in grass and slept
anywhere, everywhere i slept.

This seems as good a song as any to open up this site. I have to admit that my familiarity with Takada is quite limited, so I cannot offer much biographical information. In fact, the reason I know this is because a friend introduced it to me knowing I would be interested in the original writer of the lyrics, Yamanokuchi Baku (山之口獏). Baku is a poet who I have admired for quite a while and I have a lot of thoughts on, but I will save them for another day, perhaps.

However, wikipedia tells me that Takada was born in Hyogo prefecture in 1949 and had a pretty difficult childhood. To begin, his mother passed away when he was eight. Then, his father, who had been a lumber supplier ran into severe financial difficulties and moved the family to Tokyo where they lived in state-supported apartment for the low-income families. His father passed away while Takada was still a student and after graduating from junior high school he began working at a printer. However, his dream of becoming a folk singer never left him and he continued to read poetry (people like Baku and Kaneko Mitsuharu) while also becoming increasingly interested in both the Soviet Union (he studied Russian) as well as American folk music. He eventually became a very successful folk singer in Japan, releasing dozens of records and writing books before he passed away in 2005.

Knowing this little bit about his life, I think it no surprise that Takada would have an affinity for Baku’s poem. I find his performance to be incredibly moving, I think in good part because it is such a close adaptation of the original poem. To be sure, Takada has rearranged some of the words and included some refrains (Tired from walking, I slept, etc.) that are not in the original poem to help make it a well-flowing piece of music. Baku’s poem (it is the same title – Seikatsu no gara) subtly captures the emotions and anxieties of homelessness with just a few words. Though it may not be obvious, it is near the end of the summer, so while this life is difficult now, it is doable (夏向きなのでしょうか). However, one can only imagine how things will continue in the autumn, when life will continue as a vagrant.

The poem is a great representative of much of Baku’s other work and I think Takada’s understated chord progression and style of singing seem to speak to each listener individually. I suppose that is the wonder of Dylan or Guthrie, as well, so if you are a fan of them, then you may want to look for more of his work, there is a good bit on YouTube.

I also want to stress this is a working translation. I will include the Japanese lyrics here as well, and I encourage anyone who comments or problems with my translation to please let me know. I would especially be curious to hear of other potential translations for the song/poem’s title. 柄 is a difficult word, and its usage here is tricky. I considered “Life’s Style” as well, but that didn’t sit quite right either. Translation is never a perfect product, especially in poetry and lyrics, where each word holds so much weight. Please let me know if you think there is a better way to translate something – only can get better through critique and comments.

高田渡ー生活高田柄 (作詞:山之口獏)

歩き疲れては夜空と陸との 
隙間にもぐりこんで草に埋れては 
寝たのです処かまわず寝たのです
歩き疲れては
草に埋れて寝たのです
歩き疲れ寝たのですが
眠れないのです

近ごろは眠れない
陸をひいては眠れない
夜空の下では眠れない
揺り起されては眠れない

歩き疲れては
草に埋れて寝たのです
歩き疲れ寝たのですが
眠れないのです

そんな僕の生活の柄が
夏向きなのでしょうか
寝たかと思うと 寝たかと思うと
またも冷気にからかわれて

秋は
秋からは
浮浪者のままでは眠れない
秋は
秋からは
浮浪者のままでは眠れない