Cyril Pahinui: “Mele Kalikimaka”
Merry Christmas! The family and I are still in Hawaii, as I mentioned yesterday, so what better way to say “Merry Christmas” than the “Hawaiian way,” as the song says. “Mele Kalikimaka” may not be a traditional Hawaiian song, having actually been written by Robert Alex Anderson in 1949 — and first recorded by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in 1950 — but it has certainly been adopted by many a Hawaiian. (Interesting side note, at least for me: Anderson graduated from Cornell University, my alma mater.) Among those who have made it their own is the great Hawaiian slack key guitarist Cyril Pahinui, son of the late, great Gabby Pahinui, and Cyril recorded a beautiful version that was released in 1996 on the Ki ho’alu Christmas collection (“ki ho’alu” means “slack key”). It features Pahinui’s incredible slack-key guitar playing (which is a style I’ll discuss in more depth in a future post, as it features some of the most beautiful acoustic guitar you’ll ever hear).
So sit back, turn up the volume, and picture yourself here where the palm trees sway…and then go play in the snow, if you’ve got some.