CH 24 ROUND PEG SQUARE HOLE
She’d forgotten the way there--this happened at least once a day in Tokyo--getting lost on the way to a place she’d been several times before. So, when she first sees his sandy blond hair shooting up above the crowd like a peg that hasn’t yet been hammered down; hears the strum of his guitar and his voice soaring through the atrium, she is surprised by him.
It feels as though she’s stumbled on his performance by accident, which makes her perceive him for a moment like a stranger.
The sound and the sight of him is exciting and jarring all at once.
As a stranger, Hanako might have thought, “who is this good-looking gaijin and what is he doing playing for a crowd of children?” Because it strikes her visually that the girls and women clustered around him are like forest flowers near the base of a fern.
She stands apart and watches him play his last song, wondering why it has never struck her so dramatically before, how obviously and almost awkwardly Jiro stands out from the crowd in Japan.
Lately, his new management team had been telling him to reach out to his audience in Japan more. Tailor more of what he did for them.
“How?” Jiro wanted to know. “Tell me and I’ll do it.”
The challenge is that Jiro and his team are like urban cowboys on the Tokyo music scene. There is no defined map of the land when it comes to foreign artists becoming known worldwide from Japan.
“There’s an American girl recording all Japanese boy band songs,” someone on the team said. “What if you recorded all Japanese girl band songs?” Hanako wanted to roll her eyes and throw her hands up. Jiro held her hands and said she needed to trust.
“I’ll be singing my own songs,” he’d said. “They’re brainstorming right now that’s all. They’re trying to figure out how to get me in front of more people.” He’d grinned at her in the way he did when he thought Hanako was being as amusing as she was exasperating. “It’s going to be okay.”
Hanako had grumbled but she’d let it go.
All Jiro’s team seems to know for sure, is that Jiro and Jiro’s music is special and dynamic. And they want to cash in--so badly--but there is the tiny matter of how to take him to the bank.
Hanako is grateful to the team, despite her misgivings. Anyone who can see what a gift Jiro has and what a star he is, she can love forever. But lately, she is having trouble trusting. She is ready to see their ideas in action: she is ready to see some results.
This casual acoustic performance tonight is a perfect example, Hanako thinks, of how the team is grasping at straws. They want to expose Jiro to more people, so they have him opening for a J-pop band they’ve recently signed.
“Have they heard your music?” Hanako wants to yell. “Do they understand the nature of J-pop? People who love music in all of its compositional depth and foot tapping poetry—these are the listeners they need to help you reach!”
But instead, as they get ready for bed that night and then look at each other in the almost dark, she listens to the disappointments and the victories of the day--Jiro’s desire to climb creating a giant glimmering ladder between them—and tries her best to not hack at those rungs of hope with the ax of criticism and doubt and to simply stand on the other side and steady him as he goes.