KAN Liner Notes ② (1989–1991)

Here are the liner notes for every song on KAN‘s 4th, 5th, and 6th studio albums, written by the artist himself. The albums featured here are HAPPY TITLE (1989), Yakyuu Senshu ga Yume Datta (1990), and Yukkuri Furo ni Tsukaritai (1991).

These liner notes were originally published in the 1992 book Boketsu Bari Hori.

Text: KAN
English translation: Henkka
KAN links: Website, Twitter, YouTube

Note: You can buy KAN’s physical releases on CDJapan.

HAPPY TITLE ~Koufuku Senshuken~


A terribly sad song about a person who should be a figure in some culture-leading profession, deserving to stand in the spotlight on stage somewhere, but who has mentally fallen to the point where he now sees himself to be nothing more than a part of an organization. Reading the lyrics line-by-line, it starts to read like a tragedy.

Although the melody for this one is constructed in a fun way, it ended up being wasted potential. It was also my first self-arrangement in a while. The song’s only saving grace is its simplicity and how it makes the most of all those individual phrasings.


I have hardly any memories of working on this one. That probably means it was one of those rare easy-to-make songs.

I really should’ve played that intro phrase on a live piano and not on a synth.


One of the few songs on this album that I would call “great.” You can definitely hear the Billy Joel influence in the melody line, and I tried to make the arrangement in the spirit of “Allentown.”

Hontou wa hoketsu datta Little League” (“I was really a substitute in Little League“)—when the mixer, Irieda, heard this line, he started crying and said, “So was I!” The truth is, though, that I was a vice captain in a team of the Fukuoka Boys’ Baseball League (so, in other words, not Little League), and I was of course a regular player. But this is something I did not mention to Irieda.

I wrote the lyrics with the intention of doing a remake of the lyrics of “ALL I KNOW,” a song off my second album. I’m pleased with how they came out, but as a result I’ve never performed “ALL I KNOW” after this song was released.

This was also the second single from this album.


This album has a lot of English-language song titles for some reason. Note that in the title here it’s “plain,” not “plane.”

It was my first funky tune in a while—my first one since my second album, in fact. This, too, was one that I arranged by myself. When we do it live, I play the clarinet solo on a keytar.

“Kimi Kara Me ga Hanasenai”

This was supposed to be a single, but the decision was overturned in a meeting just before its release and it became the B-side instead.

I tried to make the arrangement in the style of the eurobeat sound of Rick Astley who was popular at the time, but I really should’ve thrown one more bass register, percussive tone in there. When we do this one at live rehearsals and stuff, I like to do my Rick Astley impression. And let me tell you, it sounds pretty close.

To share a little secret about the lyrics: the guy from “Koisuru DISCOMAN” off my first album appears here for the first time in two years, this time as a waiter. But I feel that the lyrics are just lacking in intelligence, so I’m not very happy with them.


This is a remake of a song I originally wrote before my debut.

I wanted to make it sound like Hall & Oates, but when I’m singing in Japanese it often just doesn’t come out like that. At rehearsals, it’s fun to sing this while mimicking Billy Ocean.

We overdubbed the soprano sax in three different voices for the interlude. Personally, this song always reminds me of Sapporo for some reason.


My first three albums had not sold as well as I’d hoped—or rather, to put it bluntly, they’d went completely unnoticed by anyone. In other words, work wasn’t looking up for me during this songwriting period.

This song is a perfect representation of my mental state at the time, what with me being distrustful of everyone around me. Even among the rest of the songs on this album—no, among all my albums—this song can be called one of my darkest, gloomiest works yet.


I think it’s only natural that it would sound forced when I was trying during this particular time period to write the sort of cheerful-sounding songs as the material on GIRL TO LOVE. To the listener, it might not sound like anything is off. But as its author, to me this song was a waste. It sounds completely forced.

It was only on New Year’s in 1991 when arranger Matsumoto Akihiko told me, “It was difficult to work on the song since you didn’t even know yourself what it was you wanted to do with it.”


This song is the culmination of my dilemma, resulting from a loss of self-confidence. I just gave up completely when making the melody for this song. And yet, compared to some of the other songs that I’d had to force myself to write around this time—like “Kimi Kara Me ga Hanasenai” or “REAL REACTION“—this at least is a more honest work.

Playing it live, we used to do a violent, heavy metal version.

I also remember how writing this song made it feel like some kind of a weight had been lifted, and I wrote the melody to “REGRETS” right after.

“Tokyo Life”

I feel that the fact I didn’t just play this song on a single live piano and sing to my own accompaniment was, in a way, yet another manifestation of my lack of confidence. The song expresses nicely all the various doubts I’d felt throughout my nine years of “Tokyo life.”

Ultimately, I think the tiny amount of energy that I’d somehow managed to muster up in order to successfully finish this album came from the “you” that’s mentioned twice at the end of the lyrics to this song. Who or what exactly that “you” is, that’s something I wish to leave open to interpretation. In any case, that’s the feeling I have.

Ten years from now, I want to make “Tokyo Life II.” I’m personally eager to hear what kind of a song that one turns out to be.

General Commentary

I had lost confidence in my own abilities. While it’s not that I didn’t have anything I wanted to do musically, I just listened too much to the opinions of others while at the same time failing to push back with my own. All of that makes for an unfocused, pitiful album.

I wanted to name the album UNIT OF SOCIETY, but I was told it was “hard to remember” and “too difficult,” so I gave up on the idea. After much deliberation, I then decided on HAPPY TITLE. While there is a deeper meaning behind that title, describing the origins of ideas like that is oftentimes not very interesting, so I’m choosing not to write about it here. Thinking about it now, REGRETS would’ve been the perfect album title.

For the KAN fanatics, it should be an interesting album to listen to when you know about my mental state at the time. But for people who first hear Yakyuu Senshu ga Yume Datta and then go back to check out this one, it must make for a pretty disconcerting listen.

Even though with this album the lyric sheet finally became a proper booklet and everything…

Yakyuu Senshu ga Yume Datta

“Ai wa Katsu”

I feel nervous about commenting on this song.

I write most of my songs “song first,” meaning I write the melody first and lyrics second. That was also the case with this song. After I’d finished the melody, I was so pleased with it that I was even going around telling staff I was “afraid of my own talent.” But I’m not going to lie: once I put lyrics to it, I suddenly felt a little less enthusiastic about the song.

What I mean by that is… My lyrics are usually more subtle as far as the whole psychological side of things is concerned. There’s usually a lot of the “neither here nor there” kind of thing, and that’s something I personally like about my lyrics. But in the case of “Ai wa Katsu,” even just the impact of its title (“Love Will Win“) is enough to make my head spin, and in my mind it’s a very abstract and indistinct lyric.

Still, I just thought, “Oh well. It’s still a good song regardless.” There’s no doubt that it is something I wrote myself, that it became my first representative song, and that it helped me break through my first big mental block.

“Koisuru Futari no 834km”

For over three years now, since October 1988, I’ve been traveling weekly to Sapporo for radio work. This song about a long-distance relationship is something I wrote on one of those commute days after meeting this young man—sitting next to me on the Boeing 767—who had just accepted a job transfer.

The melody is good, but the string lines especially are just excellent. I personally would’ve liked to cut this one as a single.

“Keyakidoori ga Irozuku Koro”

Whenever I’m making a new album, I’m always worriedly thinking, “I wonder if I’m even capable of writing something better than the stuff on my last one?” Then, when I do come up with a song that makes me feel that way, it’s a huge load off my mind. Suddenly from that point on the creation process starts to move along smoothly.

On my fourth album that song was “REGRETS,” and on this album it was “Keyakidoori ga Irozuku Koro.” As with “Daijoubu I’M ALL RIGHT” off my third album, I’m proud to say that I do believe this song is one that could’ve only ever have been written by either me or Billy Joel.

“Seishun Kokudou 202”

I’d previously written a song called “ONE NIGHT KISS” (off my second album) for Moritaka Chisato, and it was a tune I was very pleased with. And so this song, too, was one that I wrote with her in mind. I like it. Oh, and Moritaka Chisato’s “Michi“—a song that was released right after I’d written this one—has a chorus that sounds very much like the intro to this song, but this was a complete coincidence.

The lyrics, too, are pretty good for a “local song,” but the arrangement is something I’d like to re-do myself one day.


My private life during the production of this album was full of unhappiness. While these lyrics aren’t directly related, emotionally speaking I felt about as sad as these lyrics. No, scratch that—I was more sad than this song. Please do try listening to this song once in the winter at Chitose Airport.

The melody in the intro was created by Taguchi Noboru (Tokuma Shoten Publishing) who lives in my neighborhood. I treated him to yakiniku as compensation.

“Happy Birthday”

Here, I tried for the first time in a while to write lyrics while thinking only about how they sounded. As such, there’s no shadowing or anything like that, and it’s very light in emotional content.

This songwriting technique of writing several different melodies for the same chord progression cycle and then at the end playing them all together is something I learned from Paul McCartney. It’s the so-called “Silly Love Songs Technique.”

“Bokutachi no Easter”

This song is the only one on this album that I first wrote much earlier, in around 1988. The lyrics are just something I came up with on the fly—they don’t really have much meaning.

I’d like to hear THE CHECKERS sing this song.

“Kenzen Anzen Kouseinen”

The leading single off this album. Frankly speaking, it was a failure. The sudden spoken word bit in the middle was pushing it in the context of this song, but there’s no doubt that it expanded on the range of possibilities for my future work.

In baseball terms, this song was a “sacrifice bunt.” That’s all it was. One must not forget that although the second single, “Ai wa Katsu,” was happily enough a home run, had this song been a “base hit” instead of a “sacrifice bunt,” it would’ve meant one more point for the team.

“1989 (A Ballade of Bobby & Olivia)”

My first ever parody song. The construction of the music, the lyrics, the song development—everything about it was based on Billy Joel’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” It was a completely different way of production for me. I personally enjoyed the process, and I’m pleased with the end result.

Around 90% of the lyrics might be perceived to be based in truth. That’s also precisely why I get so emotional performing this song live.

And there’s one thing I want to say with pride in regards to having written this song. In terms of both the actual physical process as well as on the emotional side, I now understand how “being influenced by something,” “making a parody of something,” and “ripping something off” are all totally different things on a fundamental level.

“Kimi ga Suki Mune ga Itai”

Aside from “Bokutachi no Easter,” while this was the first song I wrote for this album, the lyrics were actually the very last thing I wrote. It was my first try at the one-take, “singing to my own accompaniment” thing. We did three takes of which the second was chosen.

During the ending of the song, the oboe plays the melody from “GIRL TO LOVE.” This was done in order to signify how I meant this album to be GIRL TO LOVE II.

General Commentary

It falls on my work and on me as the artist to bear the full responsibility of my first four albums not being acknowledged by society at large.

I had learned that when you’re recording and you’re taking advice from a number of different people—all with their own individual sensibilities—and you’re just trying to maintain some kind of a proper balance, that can cause the focus of the work itself to become blurred.

And so when it came to recording this album, I went into it determined that I was not going to listen to anyone else’s ideas; that I was going to create it based only on my own intuitions. As a result, I often had to make enemies with the staff during the production. There were lots of people who were just trying their best to protect my status as an artist, and I knew I was very blessed to find myself in an environment like that. However, through the creation process of my four previous albums, I also knew that the only person who could truly protect my sensibilities as well as my work was me. In that sense, I owe a lot to my co-arranger, Kobayashi Shingo, who collaborated with me while fully understanding all of that.

Ai wa Katsu” becoming a hit also helped with the sales of this album, so I do believe it could be called a success. However, I will for the rest of my life regret how at the very end I was unable to push through with my sensibilities when it came to choosing the picture for the album cover.

“Soredemo Furarete Shimau Yatsu”

(B-side of “Ai wa Katsu,” 1990)

This song was originally titled “GUINNESS,” but what with it being registered trademark and all, I had to refrain from using it. I’d like to personally commend myself on my sense of humor for having “Ai wa Katsu” (“Love Will Win“) be immediately followed up by “Soredemo Furarete Shimau Yatsu” (“The Man Who Still Gets Dumped“).

Seeing as this song is the B-side to “Ai wa Katsu,” that must then mean that nearly two million people are in possession of it. But I wonder how many of those people would be able to sing it? I mean, for instance, I personally love ASKA’s “Hajimari wa Itsumo Ame” and in the last six months I must’ve listened to it around 300 times. I could even do an impression of it. But its B-side, “Kimi ga Ai wo Katare“? I only remember the very ending part.

This song is a representation of that reality.

Yukkuri Furo ni Tsukaritai


This song came to me on my way home from Sapporo when I was stuck in traffic on the Shuto Expressway, right around the Shiba-Koen Interchange.

It’s a clear representation of how busy I was at the time and how it was affecting my personality. I wanted to give it the feel of a college student in his sweats just singing a song by himself in his apartment, so we recorded it with just one live guitar.

On guitar here is Nakano Yutaka who is also in my tour band.

“Kimari da mono”

I’d always wanted to sing about my inferiority complexes in regards to my looks, and I think the fact that I was finally in the right mental state to do that has much to do with the confidence I gained from “Ai wa Katsu” becoming a hit.

As evidence of just that, when I first wrote the words to this song back in November, it was just a really spineless lyric. But when I rewrote it at the beginning of the new year, it suddenly became this brazenly refreshing song.

Joey McCoy gave me advice on the English-language bit in the opening background vocals. I’m singing, “I think there’s no harm in wasting time.”


My first overseas trip was to Dalian, China, in 1987. Wanting to relive the purity I felt on that trip, I then visited Beijing on my birthday in 1990. That purity which I love about China is very similar to the purity possessed by this song, and I only realized this in 1991—after the song had already been released—when I was visiting Shanghai. So while I was in Japan when I wrote this song, I feel on an emotional level that what actually made me write it was in fact the country of China.

The arrangement was inspired by Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” Being the song that I’m the most satisfied with on this album, it was also the second single cut.

“Tokidoki Kumo to Hanashi wo Shiyou”

Following in the footsteps of “REGRETS” and “Ai wa Katsu,” it’s another “endless melody.”

1990 was such a hugely busy year for me. Due to the better-than-expected sales of “Ai wa Katsu” and Yakyuu Senshu ga Yume Datta, things were good on the business side of things. In my private life, however, I feel like I lost a lot of things I had held important to me.

It’s a great song that makes me long for 1990—the busiest year of my life.

“Boku no Kanojo wa Orikousan”

I wrote this song with live performances in mind. With the arrangement, I employed pretty much the same techniques as on my debut song, “TV no Naka ni.” It’s my first time in a while showing my Billy Joel influences—in the vein of songs like “Easy Money” and “Storm Front“—and with the background vocals it’s impossible to not see how I’m very much an alumni of the Beatles.

It’s such a sad song in its blunt cheerfulness. Man, I want a girlfriend…


I’ll be honest. There is a certain person with whom I’ve been in love with for years. Whether that love will ever be reciprocated or not is a separate matter, but I continue to love them regardless.

With this lyric, I reached the peak of how much pain loving someone can bring you. It became a much sadder song than I’d anticipated. I do not think it’s possible for one to love a person any more than this, and I also do not think I’ll ever be able to write a song any better than this.

I feel like this was the first song I ever wrote that I would call a “love song.” And what a sad thing that is.

“Shinjirarenai Hito”

During the production period of this album—as was the case on my previous album—my private life was full of sadness. Under those circumstances, the “happy” songs just weren’t happening.

However, being mindful of the overall balance of this album, I forced myself to write this cheerful melody. When I did, the name “Tane Tomoko” suddenly popped into my mind, and I wrote these lyrics with the expectation that I would sing the song as a duet with her. The lyrics were the perfect cover for the melody that I’d had to force myself to write.

When Tane Tomoko walked into the recording studio and read the lyrics, she immediately guessed correctly how the setting for them was Shimokitazawa. I was flabbergasted. Afterwards, we went out and had crab together.

The arrangement is mostly the work of Kobayashi Shingo.

“In the Name of Love”

There was tremendous pressure in trying to write a follow-up single to “Ai wa Katsu,” and I did not triumph against said pressure.

I’m someone who takes a long time to write lyrics. That’s something I was reminded me of once again with this song. There was something I wanted to sing about, there really was, but I just wasn’t able to express that in the limited time I had available. That’s the harsh reality of the professional world.

I also learned how I do not want to appear in a TV drama ever again if I’m not the main character. My rival, Yoshida Eisaku, told me he feels the same way.


I first wrote this song to be the instrumental opening song for my 1990 “Yakyuu Senshu ga Yume Datta Tour.” Hearing the melody played live on stage before the curtains rose, it sounded unexpectedly sad.

What’s also sad is my own slavishness in how I would title this song about break-up as “Koibito” (“Lover“).

General Commentary

Having had the experience of recording my previous five albums, I do believe that I’d done a lot of learning and improving in the process. However, composing music and writing lyrics is something completely intuitive—words like “learning” and “improving” don’t have anything to do with it. While the actual recording process of this album went smoothly, in terms of composing and writing, it was my most difficult album yet.

Looking at it as a production, with the exception of the single “In The Name of Love,” I was not fazed by the success of “Ai wa Katsu.” I was able to create it at my own pace, and I’m very pleased with it. I do believe it meets the expectations of listeners who have heard my previous albums. Sales-wise, however, it appears that it didn’t meet expectations.

While the previous five albums all had ten songs, for this album there were twelve songs recorded. But in considering the album’s overall balance, I ultimately chose to include only nine.

“Koisuru Kimochi”

(B-side of “Propose,” 1991)

This song had already been written during the making of the Yukkuri Furo ni Tsukaritai album. Following the Tigers’ “Kimi Dake ni Ai wo” and Shonentai’s “Kimi Dake ni,” it’s the third in a series of songs that kick off with the words “kimi dake ni.” But who’s counting?

For the cover photo, I pretended to be a monkey in an attempt to evoke that feeling when you fall in love and your brain just does a factory reset.

As with “REGRETS,” I always do my Billy Joel imitation when I perform this song live.

“Koppa Mijikai Koi”

(non-album single, 1992)

Meeting new people isn’t easy. With that said, I don’t want to become the type of person who’s devoid of hope; the type who’s always saying, “There are just as many goodbyes as there are encounters.” When I do meet someone new, it always feels like it was predestined in some way. Then, if it doesn’t work out, I just blame it on “the stars.” I think I need to cherish my new encounters more.

In my previous works, most of the lyrics had been about long-lasting love. This time, I changed up the mood and sang about a shorter relationship. At the time of this writing, we haven’t even finished recording the song, I haven’t performed it live yet, and I have no idea how well it’s going to sell. Three months after its release, I might have something totally different to say about it.

“Mezurashii Jinsei”

(from best-of compilation Mezurashii Jinsei, 1992)

It’s a sad thing how I was unable to cry at my father’s funeral in 1990.

Looking back on the previous 29 years of my life before that point, I had in many ways really been brought up in a blessed environment. Because of this, I also felt that there was actually very little I could accomplish all on my own. My life has always taken unexpected turns, but then I also feel like every unforeseen happening in life is actually in some way pre-planned, too.

At any rate, I truly believe that the most important thing in life is whether or not you are loved by the people you love.

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