Lasse LehtonenSep 23, 2022
Yuming's The 14th Moon
Today I will be talking to Lasse Lehtonen about his book The 14th Moon, which came out with Bloomsbury this year (2022). With me today is Dr. Brooke McCorkle, who wrote her own book on Japanese musicians Shonen Knife, a band who also feature in my own work on punk in Kyoto. The 14th Moon is the title of an album by the Japanese singer-song writer Yuming, who although not punk at all, shares much with and impacted in one form or another the musicians Brooke and I look at, especially, the female musicians among them. This should not come as a surprise, as Yuming (Matsutoya Yumi) is one of the most influential figures in Japanese popular music history.
A singer-songwriter recognized globally for her songs used in Miyazaki Hayao's beloved animations, Yuming has captured the hearts of listeners of different generations since her debut in the early 1970s. Her fourth album, The 14th Moon, released in November 1976, was a milestone in establishing her signature style: the posh, “city” sound that later paved the way to the 1980s City Pop and 1990s J-pop, and even what Brooke calls Josei or women rock. In addition to examining the album's astonishing stylistic versatility and its complex background, Lasse explores how Yuming revolutionized the position of women in Japanese popular music. The 14th Moon teaches us much about the turbulent and transformative time of its recording and help us understanding the social changes in Japan of the 1970s, a usually under researched era in cultural history, after the stormy and radical era of the 1960s and just before the heyday of the consumerist bubble era of the 1980s.
Ran Zwigenberg is an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University.