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Baibaba Bimba – The Grizzly Folk

Last updated on October 29, 2020

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“Baibaba Bimba” was originally written and recorded by Japanese duo, Tenniscoats. I befriended them during my time living and working in Japan, and on occasion went to stay with them in their wonderful house in the Tokyo suburbs, interviewing them for the Japan Times and a number of other magazine articles.

This song, more than any other, struck a chord with The Grizzly Folk. In a sense, we bonded in its aesthetics, and we were delighted to see that it became something of an international underground hit for Tenniscoats. On more occasions than I can count, I’ve joined them onstage to perform some part in this song. It is the foundation of many of my fondest memories of living in Japan.

When we (The Grizzly Folk) got around to recording our own cover version of “Baibaba Bimba”, I dropped Saya and Ueno a note to ask about licensing and royalties, and I was told that “Baibaba Bimba” belonged to everyone. Anyone could do a version of it and they wouldn’t mind. So away we went.

The meaning of Baibaba Bimba

I once asked Saya about the meaning of the lyrics. She told me that they meant something to her, but they weren’t necessarily standard Japanese. So “Baibaba Bimba” means nothing, but very much something, depending on whether you’re emotionally involved with it or just searching in a Japanese-to-English dictionary. I liked that a lot.

The other songs on the “Baibaba Bimba” EP are written by The Grizzly Folk. “The Liminal Hours” is a classic example of Jon Nice coming up with something of an impenetrable loop and me having to find words that fit it. In the end it seems to have been about the Pendle Witches. No idea why. It’s just how the mood took me.

“Meet Me at Nine” lived was recorded as a basic track in Fukuoka, Japan, in 2008 and then lived in my computer until 2016 when I finally wrote words for it and recorded it for this EP. Glad it found its place in the world.

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