Thursday, December 30, 2010

Vintage Hawaiian Music — A Family Heirloom

When I was a child in the 50s, my parents moved from Georgia to California. Once they arrived they embraced the Polynesian Pop Culture that was all the rage. During that time many restaurants and supper clubs were adopting the popular Polynesian tiki decor and my parents loved it; they even transformed our garage in a Tiki Lounge. The walls were covered with fishings nets full of seashells and starfish that we found at the beach, abalone shells served as ashtrays, the bar was made of bamboo and the furniture was also rattan. Our stereo played the likes of Lani McIntire and Arthur Lyman in the 50s and Don Ho in the 60s. 

Yes, our home was the place to be for Saturday night gatherings and every summer my parents hosted a luau. Luaus were for everyone — adults and kids alike. There was lots of food and lots of fun. Mom made muumuus for us girls and the guys wore Hawaiian print shirts. We wore leis around our necks and cocktails had little umbrellas. I have great memories of those days and I've carried this love of tiki culture with me. 

Then one day something strange happened. My son got into tiki culture! Now I didn't know there was a tiki gene in the DNA pool, but I'm here to tell you it's true. My son loves the beach as much as I do and then a number of years ago he started carving tikis and hosting luaus in his Polynesian-style backyard.

Now let me get to the point of today's post. About a year or so ago, my son purchased a stereo console from the 60s and recently tore the record player apart and got it to working beautifully. He's even able to play his iPod through this beauty…

He calls me up one day and says, "Do you remember this?"

Through the phone I hear Jim Croce singing Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. Boy, does that bring back memories. Seems my son has his dad's record collection and there are a few of my old 45s in the mix. He thought it was very cool that he could now play those retro records his parents listened to and he loves the sound the needle makes on the record. If you're old enough to know what I'm talking about — you're old enough to appreciate this post, lol.

So, yep, I'm finally getting to the point — for Christmas this year I thought long and hard about what I could send him that would have some real meaning behind it. I've been planning this for several months and made sure that when I put my belongings in storage, I brought this with me…

I actually found this photo through Google; my copy is faded and has a water stain on it. My parents purchased it in 1954 for a whopping 69 cents and I've kept it all these years, along with their Don Ho and Arthur Lyman albums. Seeing them always brings back those memories of family luaus. Notice I said "seeing them" rather than "hearing them" and that's because I haven't owned a record player in about thirty-five years.

I packaged up this "family heirloom" and sent it to Jim for Christmas, so fifty-six years after mom and dad first listened to the sounds of Lani McIntire, my son was able to do the same. How cool is that?

This album was released in 1954, three years after McIntire passed away, so even when my parents listened to the tunes, they already had some years on them. McIntire was a Hawaiian guitar and steel guitar player.

From Wikipedia: "McIntire achieved fame playing with Sol Hoopii in his "Novelty Trio" before heading his own acts, "Lani McIntire and his Aloha Islanders" and later, "Lani McIntire and his Hawaiians." His work with Jimmie Rodgers pioneered the Hawaiian guitar sound that laid the foundation for the steel guitar as a standard country instrument, influencing the likes of Hank Williams and Elvis Presley. McIntire and his band also did a lot of work with Bing Crosby, notably on the original version of Blue Hawaii as well as Sweet Leilani, which was popularized in the 1937 movie Waikiki Wedding. McIntire appeared in the films Dreams of Old Hawaii (1944), You're the One Rose (1943), Maui Chant (1943), and Paradise Isles (1943)."

Here's a photo of another of his albums…

I love the cover art and would like to own this four-record collection.

Like I said, I haven't heard this album for many, many years and was pleased as punch to pass it on to my son. I knew he would appreciate the family history behind it and get a kick out of listening to it. He is becoming more and more immersed in the tiki culture world and even has plans to do his first tiki show in 2011 with his carvings.

Then I get the next call from my beloved son. He loves the album and has recorded each tune for me! What?!!!? I was so excited and thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, I didn't have to wait long to download them to my iTunes. I can't tell you how moving it was for me to hear these songs after so many years.

I don't know how to upload one for you to hear, but you know that there just had to be a YouTube video to share Lani's sound with you. I searched through many to find the perfect one and this is it:

My favorite song from the album and the one I really wanted to share was Aloha 'Oe, but there wasn't one with Lani's band playing. There was the clip from Lilo and Stitch (2002) and one with Elvis Presley singing it in Blue Hawaii (1961), but that just goes to show you what a Hawaiian standard this tune is. I'm sure you've all heard it at some point in your life, but do you know who wrote it? This song of farewell between two lovers was written by Queen Lili`uokalani, the last monarch of the Hawaiian Islands, in 1878. She composed this song and 150 others.

Queen Lili'uokalani

Image Source: Library of Congress

"There is a manuscript of Aloha 'Oe in Queen Lili'uokalani's handwriting in the Bishop Museum. Lahilahi Webb and Virginia Dominis Koch tell of a visit by the queen and her attendants to Maunawili Ranch, the home of Edwin Boyd on windward Oahu. As they started their return trip to Honolulu on horseback up the steep Pali trail, the queen turned to admire the view of Kaneohe Bay. She witnessed a particularly affectionate farewell between Colonel James Boyd of her party and a lovely young girl from Maunawili. As they rode up the steep cliff and into the swirling winds, she started to hum this melody weaving words into a romantic song. At the top of the pali, a cloud hung over the mountain peak and slowly floated down Nu`uanu Valley. The queen continued to hum and completed her song as they rode the winding trail down the valley back to Honolulu. Translation by Lili`uokalani. Copyright 1939 renewed 1967 Miller Music Corp." Source: Jonathan Wong

I made this graphic of the original lyrics and the translation…

Two natives with outrigger canoes at shoreline, Honolulu, Hawaii 1922
Image Source — Library of Congress Digital Collection

Anyway, now my son has the original album my parents purchased so long ago and can play it on his cool retro stereo and I have the songs downloaded to my iTunes and can play them through my computer — gotta love modern technology! Do you think Queen Lili'uokalani could ever have imagined any of this when she wrote the song 132 years ago?

Aloha 'oe

(Farewell to you)

26 Thoughtful Comments:

Vicki ~ FL said...

What a great post, Rhonda and I do remember the sound of the needle on many a record!

Have a wonderful New Year and maybe we'll be able to get together with the 'gang' sometime soon to do another (that I missed) shelling expedition.

Kristen said...

What a fun post!!! And how cool that your son has the tiki gene!! And he can play his iPod through his record player?!?! Wow!!

Your Christmas gift for him was just perfect...

Loui♥ said...

thanks for the memories !
I still have a turntable and all (a good many) of my Vinyl LP Albums and 45's..which are still played occasionally!
I do love modern technology..
but there's nothing like a trip down memory lane every once in awhile..
Have a beautiful NEW YEAR my friend.. sister of my heart and the sea!!
warmest sandy hugs..
Loui♥ .

Ms. Bake-it said...

Hello Rhonda!

Loved this post! Brought back so many memories from my childhood! I keep looking at the stereo console and I am almost positive it is identical to the one my parents had when I was little! I still have some of my records but I need to have the record player repaired.

I also loved your posts about The Best Gift of All and Chasing Moon Shadows! Love the family photos and moon shots!

Happy New Year!


Completely Coastal said...

Me too, I remember those record players!! And to be able to use it with modern technology -priceless right?! Those parties must have been so great!

Happy New Years, Shellbelle!!!!!!

Maya @ Completely Coastal

Leo said...

What a great post. And the video is wonderful. I am listening to it as I type out this comment. I remember playing record albums of The Rolling Stones when I was in my teens. What a creative son you have!!!

Blondie's Journal said...

This truly is a great story of how far technology has come...but also a great family tale. I am so glad that you can listen to Lani now, I get teary eyes just seeing those Motown commercials on TV selling DVD's from way back when! The console stereo sure brought back mother loved hers {she was a country music fan}.

Great post, Rhonda!


justjoycee said...

Really enjoyed this post, my family had consoles too. Have a Happy New Year.

Jane said...

LOVE this post! And I, too, remember so many of these songs. My parents loved them, too. How wonderful that you and your son can share these memories...

I am impressed that he could redo the stereo console to play, not only the records, but all his modern technology.


ps...hope you feel better SOON!

jmac said...

So damned cool!! and so very thoughtful for you to do that for him....he'll always remember your thoughtfulness every time he listens to it. Pretty cool story too!
and guess what? my daughter in law knows how much I love joni mitchell and found an original "BLUE" vinyl album for me for Christmas!!! She also gave me the cd because the album is kinda scratched. But oh, how I love just touching that album cover wondering all the hands that it has been thru!! It has my most favorite song of all time, A Case Of You!!! I was very touched!
Those gifts with thought behind them cannot be measured, as I'm sure your son is thinking too!!

Kaybe said...

I would have loved to have seen the picture over the stereo - did Jim paint that?

rjerdee said...

Ain't it great, though? All this technology that allows us so many connections through the ages...thanks for bringing this to us, your adoring fans! And a Happy New Year to ya, Rhonda!!!

The Florida Blogger said...

That's a great record player!

Beach House 27 said...

I've missed you too!! I'm so behind on blogs and blogging - I miss it and I'm comin back. I'm coming here first to catch up with you.

Love the stereo cab - I still have ALL of my albums!

The Decorative Dreamer said...

Oh I seriously doubt she ever imagined where we'd be now. LOL! I love that your son sent those tunes back to you and isn't his new stereo cabinet just grand. I grew up with furniture that was what I called mod. My parents had a big console Stereo too, but it was streamlined. LOL! Records & Albums were still around in my day, 70's and 80's although they are not the old ones like this. I think it is so cool and unique that your parents, you and your son all share a love for tiki style! I always enjoy your posts, they are not only interesting but so informative too! I hope you have a great weekend and enjoy your trip. We'll chat more later! Happy New Year!!!

Desert Dreaming said...

What a fabulous post...I love anything vintage Hawaiian...this post made me smile, with fond memories...

It was so nice to find your Blog this year, and I am so looking forward to following you in 2011.

May God continue to Bless you and the New Year bring you much joy, love, great health, and happiness.


Julie@beingRUBY said...

Dear Rhonda
You always have fascinating and informative posts... I just love that photo of Queen Lili'uokalani... gorgeous!!

Well your son is one clever chappy.. you know I had a similar stereo console I bought for $10. but sadly.. gave it away... too bad... it wasn't as big and made a fab coffee table!!

Thanks for reminding me of much of the music of my youth!!! I hope your new year rings in with love and happiness and lots of fab music!!! and dear Rhonda.. I hope all your dreams come true also!!! Maybe this will be our year!! hehehe

ciao ciao .. aloha xxx Julie

The Quintessential Magpie said...

What a great gift, Rhonda! I know your son was thrilled to get that very special treasure. And what a fun post.

I borrowed a picture of you from your blog, and I hope you don't mind. I wanted to be sure and include it in a post I did for the new year.

Loving you lots and hoping you are feeling better soon. I am up coughing and coughing.

Happy New Year! Here's to a year of blessings and friendship!


Sheila :-)

Simple Daisy said...

What a fantastic post!!
I love all things vintage...
This post made me smile:)

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

What a fabulous, fun and informatinve post! Your son must have been thrilled!
I never knew about the queen of Hawaii!
Have a wonderful New Year.
Aloha oe'

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Now that was an amazing post Rhonda!
And yes there must be a beach gene in your family!
I love the old stereo all re-done, how very awesome!
Happy new Year to you and your family!

CHERI said...

"Like mother, like son!" And what a thoughtful son he is. Also very talented...that stereo is gorgeous! What a conversation piece. I love the old music so much better than most of the music today. There just ain't nothin' like good ole' rock & roll!

Arabella said...

What a thoughtful gift for your son & great memories - I love this post, Rhonda.

I know you'll love the Northern Oregon coast - it is simply divine!

Happy New Year to you, sweetie!!

Lillian Robinson said...

Aloha Oe'... I used to sing that all the time and never knew what it meant. It's just burned into my memory like the sight of my folks old hi-fi cabinet. I want to get one of those contraptions that transfer LPs to CDs. I've still got all my old vinyl albums, just nothing to play them on!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What a wonderful post! I love 'island music' and I can't wait to look up some of the songs and artists you've mentioned! This music really lifts your spirits! ♥

CrazyCris said...

What a perfect gift indeed! :o)

How did your son like it?

I'm finally playing "catch-up" with your blog, didn't realise I'd have to go as far back as 2010! lol! :p

we'll see how long it takes me to get to today's post... good thing I have a nasty cold so my head isn't fit for much except reading short things like blog posts! ;o)

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Go to the Beach in Style!