Ryuichi Sakamoto: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

I’ve always loved Ryuichi Sakamoto’s theme for the movie Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983).┬áHe also stared in the film, which is quite rare. Usually a movie’s composer is unseen and may not start work on a film until after filming has been completed. The film also starred David Bowie, so there was no shortage of musical talent on screen – not that they were appearing as musicians. I was lucky enough to catch Mr. Sakamoto in concert in Seoul back on January 9, 2011. And this was one of the pieces he played. While I lived in Japan many years ago, I stumbled upon two books of guitar arrangements of famous songs and film themes. This and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” are the two I have worked on so far. I was also looking for a piece to test out my bizarre Miko Stomp effects pedal which seeks to mimic the voice of a female Japanese animation character. Since this piece is by a Japanese composer and was written for a film that touches upon a period of Japanese history, albeit a dark one … Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.