Music Passion — Flowers

This month’s Music Passion theme is flowers (for more information, check out allaboutlemon’s Music Passion page), so, since I am always anxious to introduce the under-heard sounds of Japan to Western audiences, my entry this month is by the 1960s psychedelic rock band Jacks (what, did you think the 60s only happened here?) from their iconic 1968 debut album Vacant World (からっぽの世界). In the original Japanese, there is only one song on the album with a flower word in the title, 「薔薇卍」 (“Bara-Manji,” which means Rose Manji), but when the titles were translated, another song, 「裏切りの季節」 (The Season of Betrayal), was ‘translated’ as “Gloomy Flower,” and that’s the song I’m posting here. This is a great album by a great, short-lived but highly influential Japanese band, and if you like this song, I definitely recommend checking out “Marianne,” the brilliant opening track to the album.

Here’s my translation of the lyrics:

On the night our burning bodies
Pressed together and fell apart
A flower of betrayal was blooming

It hurts to remember
But she didn’t give a damn
About the pain in my heart
The end of our love

So I just kept singing
The song I wrote for her

I was wrong to believe
Should have known better
A flower of betrayal was blooming

If There Is

I imagine that if there is a god
he would be as foreign to humanity
as humanity is foreign to trees
standing tall
and silent within the woods.
But even trees are made of desire.
They are moved by the wind,
they reach for the sun.
God would be strange to them.
Even fire they could understand.
God would be as foreign to them
as we are,
as one is to one.


Why are some insects detestable
and others adorable?
We swat at house flies,
throw shoes at cockroaches,
yet we catch fireflies
and cup them in our hands,
poke at pill bugs
and laugh when they roll up
inside themselves.
But is a fly not beautiful
when it cleans its back legs
as it sucks the juice
from a watermelon,
then rubs its dark red eyes,
purple and green lines
shimmering on its wings
in the early summer sun?

The Girl with the Bird on Her Shoulder

The boys wanted to crush
the egg, but I took it
and hid it in my desk
above my knees
to keep it safe and warm
hoping that someday
it would hatch into a bird
and it would sit on my shoulder
during class, and I would be the girl
with the bird on her shoulder.

But soon it started to smell
and the teacher asked
if there was anything wrong.
I showed her the egg
that had turned sour yellow.
She helped me
clean out my desk
to clear away the stench
and I never became the girl
with the bird on her shoulder.