PostHeaderIcon SONGS: Gabby Pahinuiʻs recordings of “Hiʻilawe”

In the last post I pointed to early printings of the mele “Hiʻilawe”–in a 1902 songbook (where the mele appears with two different tunes) and in the newspaper Ke Aloha Aina in 1906.

The song is now forever associated with singer/kī hō‘alu/steel guitarist Gabby Pahinui. He recorded it in the 1940s, then again in the 1970s. And most recently it has come back around again in the soundtrack to the motion picture The Descendants (2011).

There are at least five different recordings of “Hiʻilawe” by Gabby Pahinui. In chronological order, they are:

1. 1947: A 78rpm recording on Aloha Records (Aloha 810). This is the recording excerpted on the opening track of the 1972 LP Gabby (the “brown” album); the first two verses of “Hi‘ilawe” segue into “Lū‘au Hula.” The 1947 track is reissued in its entirety on four compilations:

The History of Slack Key Guitar (HanaOla HOCD-2400, p1995)

Aloha Hula Hawaiian Style (HanaOla HOCD-26000, p1995)

Legends of Falsetto (HanaOla HOCD-35000, p2000)

Territorial Airwaves (HanaOla HOCD-56000, p2004)

2. 1949: A 78rpm recording on Bell Records (LKS-505). This recording has reappeared on the folioing compilations:

Hawaiian Masters Collection Vol. 2 (Tantalus TR-1003, p1993)

Show Biz Hula (HanaOla HOCD-22000, p1995)

Lei of Stars (HanaOla HOCD-31000, p1998)

Yuki ‘Alani Yamauchi presents The History of Hawaiian Music (Office Sambinha RICE OSR-405, p2001)

Twilight in Hawaii (Sounds of the World SOW 90203, p2002)

3. 1961: from a series of recording sessions at Central Union Church. Those tracks and an insightful interview was released on the LP Pure Gabby (Hula HS-567) in 1978. This is the version of “Hiʻilawe” that is heard in the film The Descendants, and on its soundtrack album.

4.1972:  The complete song appears on the LP  (the “brown” album): Gabby (Panini PS-1002). This track was included on the compilation CD Pure Hawaiian (Quiet Storm QS-1010, p2001).

5. 1974: A live performance at the Waimea Music Festival, on the LP Waimea Music Festival (Panini PS-1006). This track was reissued on The Panini Collection (Panini Records 39476-2016-2, p2004).

Hawaiian Music for Listening Pleasure

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