Song of the Week: “Shock the Monkey”…by Don Ho?

After having attended a couple of Filipino-Canadian cultural events in Toronto, my good buddy George quipped that “deep inside every Filipino, there’s a lounge singer just dying to break out.” It’s true, and a lot of the credit goes to the late Don Ho.

Perhaps some of it has to do with Filipino jazz pianist Bobby “The Wild Man” Enriquez, who was Don Ho’s musical director in the late ’60’s. Maybe it’s just the Philippine predilection for anything Hawaiian — and who symbolizes Hawaii to outsiders more than Don Ho?

As a guy who was born on a Pacific island, an owner of a large number of Hawaiian-style shirts and who ties leis around his luggage handles to make them easy to spot at baggage claim, I can’t rightly let Don Ho’s passing go without a little tribute here on the blog.

I hope that someday I have an equipment setup like his: a Hammond organ with a big rattan chair (no puny organ bench for Don!), with a good stiff tropical drink — perhaps a Weng Weng — by my side.

I thought I’d honour his memory by posting one of his songs as the song of the week, but decided that the cliches — Tiny Bubbles, Little Grass Shack, Pearly Shells, Aloha Oe — wouldn’t do.

Instead, I will post something you might not have heard: a video of his cover of Peter Gabriel’s Shock the Monkey [15 MB QuickTime Movie], which appears on the album When Pigs Fly, a collection of songs covered by the most unlikely people (such as Ani DiFranco and Jackie Chan doing Unforgettable).

Rest in peace, Big Kahuna!

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