Many songs influenced the writing of Somewhere Among. I have included links to some of them.
I listened to these four songs almost daily:
two songs, “Inochi no Namae” (the Name of Life lyrics) and “Itsumo nando demo” (lyrics Ghiblink) from Hayao Miyazaki’s movie Spirited Away, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, were played on TV and radio so often after the release of the 2001 movie in Japan,
U2’s “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” (2000), was a filler between shows on Japanese cable in the weeks before September 11,
and this solo version of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was quiet, reflective comfort during the months after September 11. The up-tempo version came out in 1968 when I was eleven, the age of the main character, Ema.
The Beatles’ “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da” (1968) provided the title and structure for the poem about the Sports Day relay in Somewhere Among. The music without lyrics was played for my children’s relay at their elementary school Sports Day every year.
Another Beatles’ song, “Across the Universe” (1970) was not used as a poem title but comes up several times in the text of poems. Other poem titles are from Beatles’ songs
John Lennon’s post-Beatles’ song “Imagine” (1971) sung by Neil Young at the concert “America: A Tribute to Heroes” (US September 21, 2001) provided inspiration for a poem. His “Instant Karma” (1970) provided a fitting title for a poem.
I was thinking of U2’s song, “Peace on Earth” released in 2000 when I titled the poem about the Irish Republican Army laying down their guns in October 2001.
A line from Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” (2001) became a title for a poem noting a NASA mission and gave the perfect sentiment for Jiichan’s long hospital stay, “a soul vacation.”
Other strong influences were “Ue o muite arukou” (I Look Up as I Walk) (1961 Japan) the song Americans call “Sukiyaki” (1963 United States) sung by Kyu Sakamoto and “Kawa nagare no youni “(Like the Flow of the River) (1989 Japan) sung by Misora Hibari. Both are legendary Japanese singers. These songs always pull my heart strings. I remember listening to Kyu Sakamoto sing “Sukiyaki” in Japanese on the radio in Texas in the 1960s. NPR All Things Considered aired a piece called “Bittersweet at No.1: How a Japanese Song Topped the Charts in 1963” about the international hit song.
U2’s “Walk On” (2000) is not mentioned in Somewhere Among, but it was an inspiration and comfort during the days after September 11, 2001 and after March 11, 2011 during our days and months of aftershocks (earthquakes) after the Great Earthquake and Tsunami. U2 performed it on the concert “America: A Tribute to Heroes” via satellite from London, UK. The prelude to the song was from their song “Peace on Earth.” It is interesting to note that the lyrics were changed for the concert. Instead of the original
“I’m sick of hearing again and again that there’s gonna be peace on Earth”
“I’m sick of hearing again and again there’s never gonna be peace on Earth.”
There are many songs that did not make the pages or titles of poems of Somewhere Among. Most were songs I listened to when I was in elementary school in the the 1960s and when I was in high school in the 1970s. The work of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and especially Simon and Garfunkel inspire other stories.
Other inspirations for Somewhere Among:
Sound of Silence Simon & Garfunkel 1963
All You Need is Love Beatles 1967 (link update needed)
Revolution Beatles 1968 Played on an old music player called a record player. I was 11, the age of the main character in Somewhere Among, when this song came out. The lyrics are still relevant today for 2016 as are the lyrics of all these songs.
Give Peace a Chance Lennon 1969
Here Comes the Sun Beatles 1969 written by George Harrison (the link is George Harrison in the 1970s)
My Sweet Lord George Harrison 1970
Give Me Love, Give Me Peace on Earth George Harrison 1973
It Don’t Come Easy Ringo Starr 1973
Mind Games John Lennon 1973
What’s so Funny About Peace Love and Understanding? Brinsley Schwartz 1974
What’s so Funny About Peace Love and Understanding? Nick Lowe later version
Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ 1979 cover of “What’s so Funny About Peace Love and Understanding” was also popular in the 1980s.