On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Sol Hoʻopiʻi – Hula Girl (1934)
Sol Hoʻopiʻi ( Hawaiian pronunciation: [ˌhoʔoˈpiʔi]) (1902 – 16 November 1953) was born Solomon Hoʻopiʻi Kaʻaiʻai in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was a Native Hawaiian guitarist, claimed by many as the all-time best lap steel guitar virtuoso, and he is one of the most famous original Hawaiian steel guitarists, along with Joseph Kekuku, Frank Ferera, Sam Ku West and “King” Bennie Nawahi.
For today’s song we head overseas to the Hawaiian islands for a spot of sand, sea, sunshine and beautiful hula girls. Sol Hoʻopiʻi is considered one of the greatest slack key guitarists. This particular blend of music began in Hawaii and soon became popular in the US and, most likely, beyond. Hula Girl is among Sol Hoʻopiʻi’s most famous songs and offers a great example of this style of music.
In terms of the song itself it is a simple enough one. Sol Hoʻopiʻi sings about a hula girl in Hawaii with the grass skirt and evocative dancing driving him wild. He sings of his love for the hula girl and his fondest wish is that they be together. Following the lyrics it sounds like he achieves his dream and it is everything as wonderful as he had hoped for.
I may well have heard slack key guitarists in films over the years but this was my first real taste of Hawaiian music and it was a memorable one. Sol Hoʻopiʻi’s masterful playing of the guitar is without question and it complements the lyrics to Hula Girl. It’s a fast-paced song though and not always easy to keep up with. You could easily picture the hula girls dancing away to this though on the sun-kissed Hawaiian shores. Makes one long for a holiday.
Favourite song so far: