on my mind . . . Top Ten Albums of Hawaiian Music — the view from 2012, Pt. 1

Aloha Dear Readers! This kind of list-making is frequently an annual undertaking and usually occurs at yearʻs end. Iʻm coming back around to a birdʻs eye view from a slightly different place. We have Honolulu magazineʻs two high-profile projects: “The 50 Greatest Hawaiian Albums” of 2004 and its 2006 followup, “The 50 Greatest Hawaiian Songs.” Both projects reflected the assessments of musicians and industry professionals. (Disclaimer: I was not involved in the selection processes of either project.) Both projects spawned elaborate magazine features, compilation CDs, and for albums, a lavish pictorial book.

Any project of this sort is bound to provoke discussion and debate among fans and readers over inclusions and exclusions, and inevitably the discussions blended two distinct objectives:  naming “the greatest” versus naming “recommendations for newbies.” In the first several months of blogging here back in 2009, there is a loose series of posts in which I was basically “thinking aloud” about the complexities in trying to navigate among choices for any kind of “Top X” lists.

At the end of 2009, and again in 2010, I actually posted “Top Ten” lists of CDs  Both posts continue to be among the most frequently read on this blog.

Over the years, I have been involved in research on sources of Hawaiian music. In the course of this research activity, I have had many opportunities to revisit basic questions like the following:

  1. What would I recommend to someone new to Hawaiian music?
  2. What albums would be in my “Top Ten” on the basis of “historical significance”?

Two very different questions, with two very different sets of answers.

I still stand by my 2009 and 2010 lists as recommendations for folks wanting to explore different facets of Hawaiian music. But my ideas of “historical significance” have been greatly expanded since I began the great LP digitizing blitz in July 2011. I had come to the point where I needed to be able to listen to songs and artists. Nephew Nate along with research assistant Grace Okrah had digitized cherry-picked albums in past years. But I needed to be able to range over the entire spectrum. And the only way to ensure that was to digitize the remaining LPs myself. Hence the Great Digitizing Blitz; and along with it, the kind of perspective that one gets from any kind of birdʻs-eye view over a vast landscape.

Forthcoming:  The List. Stay Tuned. Aloha.

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