Aloha, Ukulele friends!
It’s barely a week past the holidays and with the New Year fresh upon us I am still working on songs for the ukulele. This week I am focusing on getting all of the songs I arranged in 2015 into a PDF document to be posted. Not quite there yet! I found that I had arranged 31 but had posted around 40 using free online sources. Before I post it however, there is an issue I had to resolve regarding the song, “Beautiful Kaua’i”.
A friend of mine forwarded a copy of “Beautiful Kaua’i” to me that had an embellishment right on the first line: a three chord turn around. Another friend of mine emailed me to say that there are other versions of the song using different words for the chorus, notably the word pertaining to the Falls of Wailua.
But first, I want to address the issue of the spelling of the name of the Hawaiian Island of Kaua’i. If we consult with websites and published books dedicated to the correct spelling and pronunciation of the Hawaiian language, then we should be spelling it with an ‘okina before the “i”. (If you want to learn something interesting about the name “Hawaii” itself, just Google it, or go to Wikipedia. Very good explanation of it.) Now, if you realize that Kaua’i is pronounced kaw-AH-ee, then singing the song will be a lot easier for you.
I first encountered this song on my trip to Honolulu in February/March 2015. The organizers had emailed everyone to see if they wanted to contribute 4 or 5 songs towards a group strum happening on one of the nights. We did this song then, and a couple nights later we enjoyed a group strum with a local family group, who regularly host kani kapila, and we did this song again. I loved it! They also did a real funny one about a General Store. Most of the songs were in English, but the ones in the Hawaiian language were just as sweet and enjoyable.
After my two friends emailed me, I took up an internet search. First I tried to find the words as written by Rudolph “Randy” Haleakala Farden. As stated at http://www.huapala.org/B/Beautiful_Kauai.html, they claim that their version of the words to the song are confirmed by ohana, or family members, to have been composed and copyrighted by Randy Farden in 1965.
They have the chorus of the song as follows:
In the midst of Fern Grotto, Mother Nature made her home,
And the falls of Wailua, where lovers often roam.
The SUPA (Seattle) website has this song identical to those words, even using the correct spelling of Kaua’i. You can find a copy at seattleukulele.org, in the Key of C, with an interesting use of 2 beats on C and 2 beats on C7 to form a 4/4 measure. Also, their verses forsake the use of Dm or D7 for “Beautiful Kaua’i, beautiful Kaua’i”. They hold on C, go strait into G7, then hold on G7 and go strait back to C. It sounds a bit different from what I was introduced to while in Hawaii, and I am by NO means at all an expert with this song, but if you play it and you like it, then that is all that matters.
Unfortunately for me, once I learned of the existence of other versions, the English major in me reared it’s ugly head and just had to analyze! The words of the chorus as written above do not make a grammatically correct sentence. There! I said it! The problem is with the word “and”.
My second version of this song I will give you is from the Mele Ohana website. It is actually the last version I found in the Key of C, and the most embellished, but I’m putting it second in line because it also uses the correct spelling, and the same words for the chorus as stated at the huapala website. This arrangement is for a children’s school or choir, and the director has written her notes on it. She has taught her players the second position of the C chord and embellished a line in the chorus for “Mother Nature made her home”, by using 2nd position C for 2 beats over “Nature”, B for 2 beats over “made her”, and returning to that C for “home”. It sounds very pretty but be aware that the 2nd position C chord is much higher sounding when played this way compared to 1st position, or what we think of as normal, C.
The next version of this song that you can look at is available online, as BEAUTIFUL KAUAI, from what calls itself “the Moonlight Beach Strummers”, but you download it from Lanai City Rentals. Somehow. This version also claims it is by Rudolph “Randy” Haleakala Farden, but the wording of the chorus is different. This version was emailed to me by one of my friends. It has the nice little three chord turn around at the end of the first line, and uses the progression from A7 to D7 to G7 back to C for the “Beautiful Kauai, beautiful Kauai” lines.
The wording for the chorus in this version is as follows:
In the mist of Fern Grotto, Mother Nature made her home,
To the Falls of Wailua, where lovers often roam.
They are still using the word “In” but we are now in the “mist”, and we are going “to” the Falls of Wailua. They have the chorus written out twice, and modify the second one to “From the mist of Fern Grotto.” If that’s the case, then have we changed the meaning to say that Mother Nature made her home from the mist? Or is it a location of Mother Nature’s home, occupying a geographical area from Fern Grotto to the Falls of Wailua?
Searching for answers to these questions we go to (yet another) website, http://www.squareone.org/Hapa/b1.html, who say Randy Farden composed this song on the Garden Isle in 1967, and a wonderful recording can be found on a CD called Aloha Pumahana Serenaders, Hula Gems, 1968. According to that recording, the words to the chorus are as follows:
In the midst of Fern Grotto, Mother Nature made her home,
‘Neath the Falls of Wailua, where lovers often roam.
Which also happens to make the most grammatical sense to my way of thinking. I have also heard (via Youtubing) the word “near” instead of “neath”, which still makes sense. Despite my discoveries, songlyrics.com has the lyrics by Don Ho as “In the midst” and using “and” for the Falls of Wailua. Another lyrics website has credited Kawai Crockett with the lyrics the same as Don Ho’s. It’s interesting because Hawaiian performer Mark James has recorded this song with the chorus as found above, same as at the squareone.org website.
And now, for The Big Reveal: I have taken all of the embellishments and applied them to my original version, posted many months ago, and modified the wording in the chorus (which some might say is just a bridge) to the ones that I as the English major prefer best. However, I have put both mist and midst in the first line, and I have “Near” typed above ‘Neath on the third line. Using the Mele Ohana’s embellishment of the second line in the chorus as my inspiration, I substituted B7 (instead of B) when using the regular C chord, or 1st position C. It also sounds good using the Hawaiian D7 so I leave it up to the player to choose their preference. Lastly, I incorporated an ending I admired from the Mele Ohana version.
I hope everyone enjoys my version, LOL!