Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s interpretation of “Over the Rainbow” is something channeled straight out of the mind of God. (That would be the God of the New Testament, by the way, not the Old. For music inspired by the God of Abraham, please see Iron Maiden.)
I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing the first time I heard “Brother Iz” singing “Rainbow”, but I can’t have seen him because for years I pictured a cross between John Denver and Don Ho. No cigar, friend. In truth, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was a cross between John Denver, Don Ho and a small manatee.
A mostly local phenom during his short lifetime in Hawaii (where 10,000 people attended his funeral in 1997), Kamakawiwo’ole was introduced to the rest of the planet post-mortem by the Mountain Apple Company and quickly became an international sensation.
Which brings us to the place called Tealoha, where I’m sitting right now. Warm Assam in a glass mug beside me. Muted autumn light pouring in through the big front windows. A production script traveling toward me through the mail. A shoot tomorrow. A small cat waiting for me at home. “Rainbow” playing softly in the background.
Some days are diamonds, right, John?
Tiny bubbles in the wine.
Epilogue: I just asked the proprietor of Tealoha if she’s a Brother Iz fan and she had no idea who I was talking about.