Political Folk Music in 1960s Japan: Translation, Adaptation, and the Quest for Authenticity

Date: April 17, 2014 Time: 7:30 p.m. Location: Olin 157

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Japan's Bob Dylan

The talk will focus on the political folk song movement of late 1960s Japan. It started with an appreciation of American folk music, with Japanese translations being sung from around 1967. The political and social issues in Japan, however, were different, and the participants soon began adapting the genre to their own concerns. There existed a particularly strong desire for music that was authentically of "the folk," meaning it should be "of the people, by the people, and for the people." This quest turned out to be more difficult than it at first seemed. The major challenges can almost all be seen in the career of singer Okabayashi Nobuyasu, sometimes called "Japan's Bob Dylan."

James Dorsey is Associate Professor of Japanese in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures at Dartmouth College. He is the author of "Breaking Records: Media Censorship, and the Folk Song Movement of Japan's 1960s," in Asian Popular Culture: New, Hybrid, and Alternate Media as well as Critical Aesthetics: Kobayashi Hideo, Modernity, and Wartime Japan.