Finding The Meaning Of Success, Deep Within Tokyo’s Musical Underground

Finding The Meaning Of Success, Deep Within Tokyo’s Musical Underground
June 14, 2018 Elijah James Logan

It was a sweltering hot summer in Tokyo. I was sitting in my study, which doubles as a disorganized storage closet for unsold CDs, zines and tapes. An office worker, taking a cigarette break on the fire escape of the building opposite, was watching me through the window with an expression of disdain, wondering what I was still doing in my dressing gown at 4:00 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon. At that exact moment, what I was doing was reading an email from the Japanese translator of a book I wrote about the underground music scene in my adopted country. In it, she was laughing about an ironic reference the book makes about the influence that Mark E. Smith and The Fall had on mid-’90s Japanese chart pop, but was unsure how to translate it. In a country and linguistic environment where Smith’s defiantly Anglo-Saxon punk poetry never really found purchase, the reference is little more than an Easter egg for a select few. To translate the joke meaningfully would be to explain it, which would

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