Somewhere Near Japan
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|"Somewhere Near Japan"|
|Single by The Beach Boys|
|from the album Still Cruisin'|
|Released||January 11, 1990|
|The Beach Boys singles chronology|
The bulk of the song was written by John Philips and concerns his daughter Mackenzie Phillips's honeymoon experiences. She and her new husband, both serious substance abusers, flew to Guam, and both the money and the drugs soon ran out. This was when her father received a late night phone call from Phillips begging him send money or drugs, preferably both: when he asked where she was, the reply was "somewhere near Japan". Phillips' original version of the song, titled "Fairy Tale Girl", allegedly ran to over 25 verses. A late-1980s recording by The New Mamas and The Papas (John Philiips, Mackenzie Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Spanky McFarlane) under the title "Fairy Tale Girl (Somewhere Near Japan)" was belatedly released on the 2010 compilation Many Mamas, Many Papas from Varèse Sarabande.
The final Beach Boys release describes a protagonist agreeing to come to the rescue of his "fairy tale girl" who is "driftin' on some Chinese junk" (a double entendre for both heroin and a type of ship), despite the likelihood that she will "break [his] heart one more time" — concluding that "I broke her fall and I always will."
"Somewhere Near Japan" features the lead vocals of Mike Love, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston. Brian Wilson was not included in the recording of the song, as he was involved with Eugene Landy at the time of recording and was not actively participating in many Beach Boys projects. He did, however, appear in the music video. The single release is a remix of the album recording. The 12-string guitars, mandolin & solo were played by Los Angeles studio musician, Craig Trippand Fall. The main recording was done at Al Jardine's Red Barn Studios in Big Sur, Calif. The programming, including drums/keyboards were (as far as I know) done by Keith Wechsler, who also was the engineer on the Still Cruisin' album, and the Summer in Paradise album. The song was produced by Terry Melcher, who co-wrote the song, helped arrange the background vocals.
The music video features Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and Mike Love. In the closing moments of Somewhere Near Japan, all five members of the band were featured together for the first time since the Beach Boys video California Dreamin'; however, Brian Wilson's footage was filmed separately from the remaining four and was superimposed into the shot. The video for Somewhere Near Japan would be the last time these five members would create a music video to promote an original Beach Boys single (the five would return for the documentary for Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 where subsequent videos were created).
- Mike Love - lead vocals
- Carl Wilson - lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Al Jardine - lead vocals, guitar
- Bruce Johnston - lead vocals, bass guitar, keyboards
- Craig Trippand Fall - guitar, mandolin
- Keith Wechsler - keyboards, programming
- Terry Melcher - backing vocals