Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Classics: Mele Kalikimaka

Poi Dog Pondering with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band: Mele Kalikimaka


I must apologize to one of our readers, who sent me an e-mail to request T-Bone Burnett’s version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen during our Offbeat Holiday Music week. I did not post it then because I knew that it would fit this week’s theme better. But I’m not posting it now either, because the album it comes from, Acoustic Christmas, has another song I wanted to post more: Mele Kalikimaka. The song was written by R Alex Anderson in 1949. A year later, it was a hit for Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. Oddly, the notes in the Acoustic Christmas album list the song as traditional. Mele Kalikimaka is an example of a Hawaiian musical genre called Hapa haole, in which Hawaiian phrases or pidgen English ones are sprinkled into mostly English lyrics, and native Hawaiian rhythms are used. The words Mele Kalikimaka are what apparently happens when a native Hawaiian tries to say Merry Christmas.

The version heard here is a collaboration between Poi Dog Pondering and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. That was either going to be a nightmare or a blast. I’m happy to say that it was the latter.

blog comments powered by Disqus