Mon, 7 January 2013
When celebrating Bina Mossman’s birthday, I almost forgot her most famous composition of all.
It has been a few years now since the participants in the Hawaiian music forum known as taropatch.net were having fun reminiscing about Auntie Bina Mossman's ode to California, "Kaleponi Hula." This short, yet most intriguing song speaks of a young man journeying from Hawai’i to California who asks his sweetheart what type of souvenir she might enjoy. The young lady then begins a laundry list of the latest and greatest fashion accessories. Those who understand Hawaiian poetry and its hidden layers of meaning - referred to as “kaona” - may or may not find some additional social commentary in this list of items.
Regrettably, there are few versions of the song still in print on CD or MP3 for us to enjoy. But to aid the members of taropatch.net in their discussion, I threw together a short montage of excerpts from four very old out-of print versions of the song - by Uncle Johnny Almeida, Charles Kaipo Miller, Alice Fredlund with the Halekulani Girls, and Sonny Chillingworth. The Puerto Rican-influenced katchi katchi rhythms of the Sonny Chillingworth version again speak of the changes in Hawaiian music occurring in the late 1950s and 1960s. And aficionados of Hawaiian music will recognize that one of the voices harmonizing with Sonny is none other than Nina Keali`iwahamana.
The Hawaiian language lyric and English translation can be found in Na Mele o Hawai’i Nei - 101 Hawaiian Songs by Samuel H. Elbert and Noelani Mahoe.