Glay’s new song questions war in Ukraine as Takuro hopes people take action

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Takuro, Glay’s leader and guitarist, poses for The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Unanswered questions about the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine drove Takuro of rock band Glay to pour out his thoughts and create the new song, “Only One, Only You.”

“Lives lost and things broken can never be recovered. Even if we can’t change the world, I hope this song will help motivate someone to take action,” Takuro said of the band’s 60th single in a recent interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, he has felt distressed by the sad news.

“I was utterly shocked by the fact that there’s absolutely nothing the world can do to stop the war,” he said. “With no power to stop this brutality, there isn’t much that could be done structurally. But still, this is just so unbearable.”

Driven by these emotions, the leader of the four-piece band decided to write a song, and got the nod from his peers.

“Our pride as a rock band is that we’ve never lost faith in being honest about what we believe we want to tell the world,” he said. “I came to realize that my role is to question the world about what I’m feeling right now.”

Takuro talked with the other band members online as he worked on the song. The completed version includes lyrics that sound as if they express the feelings of a front-line soldier: “Still, we are hiding, holding our breath. We don’t want to do it, but this is what we were taught was right.”

Beautiful piano melodies underpin strong words: “Have mercy on others. Search for hope in despair.” In the chorus, lead singer Teru powerfully conveys the desire for peace, singing, “Only we can make it right.” This line of the chorus is sung in English.

Takuro believes there are various ways of interpreting the meaning of “only one” in the song title.

“It could be someone’s life, hometown or a single belief,” he said. “I came up with this title when I thought about how insane it is that human lives are lost over individual thoughts and historical aspects, slight misunderstandings and accumulated coincidences.”

The band experimented with a new form of expression by layering bass in the chorus. “We wanted to boldly challenge the sound of the times,” Takuro said.

Formed in 1988, Glay made its major-label debut in 1994. Since then, the band has held its position as a leader in Japan’s music scene.

“I’ve been able to share the passion that I express as an artist with the band members and turn it into sound. I think this has kept Glay going for a long time,” Takuro said.

“Music doesn’t have the power to change the world. What we can do is help the person in front of us feel slightly more positive or give them a little comfort. I’ve been in this industry for nearly 30 years, and I think that’s good enough,” Takuro added.

He believes, however, that entertainment can still bring salvation to the people who find it difficult to live in this world. “I hope that people who feel something from this song will be inspired to take action and eventually find themselves feeling hopeful.”