Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.526

A Japanese band Tulip is the decisive reason that I chose a musician as my lifelong career. It literally changed my life entirely when I came across their music. I’ve been an avid fan of them since I was a high school student. The band had broken up, but has been reunited occasionally for its anniversaries. Last year, it had the 40th anniversary concert tour. I went to three venues by paying for the expensive tickets, the bullet train fares and the hotel stays. A large sum of money for a poor and cheap person like me was spent on the concerts because it crossed my mind that it could be the band’s last tour and my last chance to see them perform live. Considering the members’ ages of above sixty and their tour rate of one every five years or so, the next tour seemed precarious to me. But I was totally impressed by their high-level performance at the concerts in this tour. They played their old familiar tunes better than ever. Listening to their performance, I realized I had had a keen eye for the true rock band even as a high school student. The band I picked among many other bands was the one that kept shining and still played lively rock through all those years. After the last concert, I felt in rapture how lucky I was to be a fan of them. I wanted to go to the bathroom when I was leaving the hall, but there was a long line of people. Next to the hall was a hotel and I was headed there for the bathroom. I found a bunch of people gathering at the passage between the hall and the hotel. It seemed they were waiting for the band members to come out of the hall, as they would get in the cars here. Holding my desire for the bathroom, I joined the crowd and waited. No one showed up. After a while, I began to think the information among these people was false. An hour has passed and people started leaving. I was close to the point I couldn’t hold it anymore when the members finally appeared one by one with the staff guarding them. They waved, got in their each car and drove off. I got to see my favorite member Toshiyuki Abe off stage for the first time since he signed on his essay book for me and shook my hand at the book-signing event when I was a college student. I shrieked his name to him as I usually did. He glanced at us, waved at us, smiled at us, looking so happy. He got in the car, waved at us again and went away. I ran to the bathroom and felt the utmost happiness, never suspecting that was the last time I saw my idol. The end pounces abruptly. The other day, the news that he had passed away in India came in. Another dream of mine has been broken. I had dreamed of being a popular singer-songwriter and having Abe’s guitar playing on my songs. I had been striving by this goal in my mind. I can’t believe I would never get to go to a Tulip’s concert again. My memories related to Tulip are the only good ones during my dismal teenage period. How fun it was to go to their concert with my friends! How hard we laughed together reading Abe’s essays after school! How hopeful I was when I was singing their ‘Blue Sky’ out loud with my friend looking up the blue sky from the class room window! Tulip was a symbol of hope for me. And now it’s gone forever with Abe. I don’t know what will get me going from now on. I’ve cried every night. Only one solution seems to remain, that is to let him play the guitar for my songs inside my mind. I listen carefully and reproduce his playing by making his sound and technique with my synthesizers and computers. I think I can do it because he now lives with me until I die…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.525

The nearest train station from my home that I usually use has no station attendants on site. All it has are a ticket vending machine and an emergency phone. There’s no ticket gate either. A passenger gets a ticket from the machine and goes directly onto the platform. Upon arrival, they put the used tickets into a box on the wall. There are several no-attendant stations like that along this local line. That means it’s possible to ride free if you get on and off the train both at those stations. It’s kind of an honorable system that whether you pay for the ticket or not all depends on your conscience. Of course riding a train without a ticket is a crime. To crack down on it, a conductor sometimes makes spot checks on the train. He or she checks all passengers’ tickets and stamps on them. If someone has a ticket for the minimum fare, the conductor asks the destination and collects the full fare. Since many passengers make the payments on the train, I suspect the honorable system doesn’t work so well. I’ve once seen a passenger without a ticket caught by the conductor. She received the conductor’s severe rebuke and paid a lot of money. Some passengers try so badly not to be caught when a conductor begins the spot check. Their common ways are simply running away from the conductor by moving back and forth between the cars. A conductor sometimes gets off the train and steps onto the platform at a no-attendant station to check the tickets of the passengers who get off there. In those cases, a passenger who cheats on the fare walks toward the far end of the platform opposite to the conductor. The train eventually has to leave on schedule and the conductor doesn’t have enough time to go up to the passenger for the ticket. The passenger waits there for the train to leave with the conductor back on while pretending to rummage through his or her bag for the ticket that doesn’t exist. The most impressive passenger I’ve seen was a young woman who pretended to sleep in her seat when the conductor asked her to show a ticket. No matter how loudly the conductor asked repeatedly, she wouldn’t wake up. Although he almost shouted in her ear in the end of the persistent demands for the ticket, she was still asleep. I thought if she wasn’t acting, she was dead. After he went back, her acting finished and she woke up. Unfortunately for her, the conductor was as determined as she was, and came back to her again. She was caught this time, but pretended to look for her ticket and declared she had lost it somewhere. A woman with an iron heart! She told her departure and destination stations which credibility was questionable, and paid the fare to the conductor after all. A stingy person like me buys a ticket each time. Even so, I feel nervous and have shifty eyes every time a conductor walks through the train cars. That’s because I may or may not devise some ways to save money for the ticket, but I leave it to your conjecture…

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