- Lyrics & Music: Kazuya Yoshii
- Arrangement: The Yellow Monkey (in association with Akihiko Matsumoto, for the single version only)
sora ga taiyou wo daki madoromu kimi wa boku ni
shitsukoi hodo deep na kiss wo segami
“nee atashi wa dare yori mo anata wo ai shiteru” to
boku yori zankoku na uta wo utau
hakanai ningyo no you ni yoru ga aketara
umi no naka kiete yuku
aa boku wa mada waka sa wo uragiru koto dekizu ni
kimi no naka ni saita yokubou dake mita
yawaraka midare gami ni yubi wo karamete
oyoideku yuuwaku no umi ni
mabushii karada ni kono mune wo kogashite
oboreteku doko made mo toki wo tometa mama
umi yori hageshiku kurushii kono koi yo
tsuioku no mermaid Forever
yuuyami semari saigo no yoru ga aketara
oyoideku seijaku no umi ni
mabushii egao ni kono mune wo kogashite
oboereteku doko made mo tsuyoku daita mama
umi yori fukakute kurushii kono koi yo
futari wa kioku ni towa no kagi wo kake
sayonara manatsu ni moete owaru koi yo
tsuioku no mermaid Forever
The sky embraces the sun, and dozing off
You bug me for a kiss so deep as to be obstinate
Saying “You know I love you more than anyone else”
You sing a more cruel song than I do
When the night comes to an end like an ephemeral mermaid
You’ll disappear to the bottom of the ocean
Ahh, still unable to betray our youth
I saw only the desires that bloomed within you
Running fingers through your soft and disheveled hair
You go to swim in the alluring ocean
My heart ablaze from your radiant body
I’m completely drowning in it, stopping time
This love is more fierce and painful than the ocean
Memories of a mermaid, forever
Twilight draws near, and when this final night comes to an end
You’ll go swim in the silent ocean
My heart ablaze from your radiant smile
I’m completely drowning in it, holding you tight
This love is more deep and painful than the ocean
We turn the key on the eternal lock of memories
And I say goodbye to this love which burned and ended in mid-summer
Memories of a mermaid, forever
Tsuioku no Mermaid is probably one of the oddest songs in the band’s history, but not for the reasons you might think. It was their 7th single, released on 07/21/1995 alongside the album Smile. It would not appear on Smile however, but rather the next album Four Seasons. And for that album it would receive a slightly reworked album version in London, where the recording for Four Seasons was done. The album version features relatively minor re-takes of some of the guitar parts, including the solo, to make it sound a bit less tinny. It also completely cuts the tambourine that was featured in the single version. All of this makes the album version slightly better sounding, in my opinion.
The reason there was such a gap between when the single was released and when it actually appeared on an album is that originally Yoshii didn’t even want to put it on one at all. The specific reason isn’t really known, though we can guess that it may be due to resentment over having to release songs like this specifically aimed at being commercial successful. However band staff managed to convince him that he should put it on an album so that listeners wouldn’t be confused as to how they could hear it, which lead to it getting remixed for release on Four Seasons.
This is the only song on Four Seasons which doesn’t feature the band’s go-to support keyboardist Yoshitaka Mikuni on keyboards, but rather Akihiko Matsumoto, a noted Tokyo-based musician, composer and arranger. Though I’ve never seen it talked about in any interviews, the only reason I can think of for Matsumoto being attached to the single version is to bring in an outside composer to help it be a more mass-appealing single. At this point in his career, Matsumoto was known for exactly this after all: Writing and arranging singles for existing artists. A couple of years after he would go on to become more known as a composer for TV commercials, dramas, anime, and movies. He’s only credited with keyboards and helping with the arrangement for the single version of this song, not actually writing it.
Supporting all of this is conversation during a round-table interview between four people who were involved with the band throughout the first part of their career. When photographer Mikio Ariga asked why Tsuioku no Mermaid had a “typical pop song” feel to it, former band director Hiroyuki Munekiyo replied with this:
That was the only song during their time at Columbia that they worked with an outside producer on. The background is that it was meant to be a tie-up song. Having a song in Joyeux Couture Maki’s “Camellia Diamond” line of commercials was something of a launch pad for bands back then, so if we got this song in one of those it would definitely sell.Hiroyuki Munekiyo, Natalie.mu Interview (2013)
Yoshii would also make some comments about agonizing over writing the lyrics to this song in the 1999 book “So Young – A Collection of Yoshii Kazuya’s Lyrical Poetry”:
It’s not featured here in this book, but “Tsuioku no Mermaid”! (Laughs) That was just the worst period for me. I felt like I’d peaked with the songs on “smile”. I felt like saying “Let’s just have some composer write the lyrics from now on!”. But of course “So Young” is being written because of that period. I think it was a very important point for me. Simply put, it was me hitting a wall.Kazuya Yoshii, So Young interview (1999)
To go along with this scramble for popularity, this also marked the time period where the group was making the rounds on the TV music show circuit: They appeared on both Music Station and NHK’s Pop Jam for the first time to perform this song.
As if this song’s history weren’t odd enough already, here’s where things get even more odd: With the release of 2004’s greatest hits compilation, Mother Of All The Best, came a version of this song found only in the third disc that came with the album’s first pressing: Tsuioku no Mermaid -Original Lyric Version-. As far as I’m aware there was no real mention of this original version before this release, but rumor has it the lyrics had to be re-written due to the original ones being branded “too extreme” by the record company. You can read the translation and notes on that version specifically if you’re interested, but spoilers: It’s not THAT different and there’s nothing “extreme” about it. It was probably just record execs grumbling that it wasn’t quite as pop-y as they’d like.
Tsuioku no Mermaid was also one of the tracks that the band selected for their collection of re-recorded greatest hits in 2017, “The Yellow Monkey Is Here: New Best”. In terms of arrangement it’s not dramatically different from the album version, mostly just having some strings mixed in now at various points. The sound quality is obviously better overall due to it being re-recorded.
I don’t have particularly strong opinions when it comes to this song, it’s always been very middle of the road. The lyrics don’t do a ton for me, outside of many one or two turns of phrase like “You sing a more cruel song than I do” (a VERY Jaguar-era Yoshii lyric that somehow managed to work its way into this song). Melodically it’s a strong enough song though, with the chorus melody in particular being a pretty good and memorable one. I pretty much agree with Mikio Ariga’s opinion above, which is to say that it sure is a pop song.
This song has a bit of a weird history when it comes to live performances, which I guess is understandable given its history. It wasn’t played during any of the recorded performances during the Four Seasons tour, nor was it even played during the Budokan live that the band held during the Smile tour. In fact it doesn’t appear on a single recorded live performance before the band reunited. Even then, it didn’t happen right away: It was something of a story when they finally did play it live during Mekara Uroko 28 in 2018. They’ve since also played it during the 30th Anniversary Lives in Nagoya (late 2019) and at Tokyo Dome (2020).