Skip to main content

Remembering Iz

Earlier this week on American Idol, contestant Jason Castro got rave reviews from the judges for his rendition of the "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" medley, but I couldn’t help comparing Castro to the Hawaiian musician who made that song famous, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1959-1997), who (imho) is the only one who could sing that song the way it was meant to be sung. Indeed, it is considered by many to be Iz's signature song. He released the song on his Facing the Future album in 1993, and it’s been used in multiple films and television shows. But for some reason, I don’t remember hearing the song until the 2002 “On the Beach” episode of NBC's ER in which Dr. Mark Green dies of a brain tumor. Shortly after that, I heard the song again as I was strolling through some shops on Kauai (my one and only trip to those islands), and I immediately sought out the artist (and the CD) at the first vendor stand I came across. It didn't take me long to discover I was late on the take when it came to the fan base this man had both in Hawaii (where he's still much beloved) and abroad. Anyway, seeing as Iz’s version is one of my all-time favorite songs (and it plays during the final scene of one of my all-time favorite films), I guess Castro was destined to pale in my estimation when it came to singing that song. But he did good.


Ken Brown said…
I guess I must have heard the song for the first time on that episode of ER (back when the show was great and I still watched it), but I don't recall - I wasn't into that sort of music then. But I definitely remember it at the end of 50 First Dates. As much as I enjoyed the movie, it was the song I loved.

Thanks for reminding me of it!
Don said…
I bought my first IZ album on Kauai, I loved Facing Future, and my second favorite is "The White Sandy Beach of Hawaii" on N Dis Life. The Rainbow song played a key role at the end of Finding Forrester which is another movie I enjoyed immensely. Thanks for linking to that video. We have been to Kaui four times and are headed to Maui this summer, assuming I can find a new flight for the one that went belly up last week. Laura and I have developed a love for slack key guitar music as well.

Carmen Andres said…
don, i didn't think i'd like kauai as much as i did - i fell in love with the place. (it helped that my best friend and her husband were there at the same time as my husband and i.) iz's music makes all the more sense after being there, and it kind of fits to have purchased my first album there as well.

ken, that song is so perfect at the end of that film! one of those times when music and film really work well together.

thanks for stopping by, gentlemen!