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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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I can't believe it, but I never knew the song Bali Hai was from South Pacific.
It is amazing to hear it with lyrics!

Bloody Mary:
Most people live on a lonely island,
Lost in the middle of a foggy sea.
Most people long for another island,
One where they know they will like to be.

Bali Ha'i may call you,
Any night, any day,
In your heart, you'll hear it call you:
"Come away...Come away."

Bali Ha'i will whisper
In the wind of the sea:
"Here am I, your special island!
Come to me, come to me!"

Your own special hopes,
Your own special dreams,
Bloom on the hillside
And shine in the streams.
If you try, you'll find me
Where the sky meets the sea.
"Here am I your special island
Come to me, Come to me."

Bali Ha'i,
Bali Ha'i,
Bali Ha'i!

Someday you'll see me floatin' in the sunshine,
My head stickin' out from a low fluin' cloud,
You'll hear me call you,
Singin' through the sunshine,
Sweet and clear as can be:
"Come to me, here am I, come to me."
If you try, you'll find me
Where the sky meets the sea.
"Here am I your special island
Come to me, Come to me."

Bali Ha'i,
Bali Ha'i,
Bali Ha'i!

One of my favorite songs of all time, besides "Quiet Village" of course!! :wink:

Cheers and Mahalo,
Jeff

It is such a beautiful haunting song....one of my favorites too. Thanks for posting the lyrics.

Personally, I prefer the lyrics in the Phantom Surfers version.

R
rupe33 posted on Mon, Aug 6, 2007 8:40 AM

The lyrics of this song eluded me for several years as I only had seen "South Pacific" for the first time this year. But prior to that, at Hukilau 2006, King Kukulele asked the delightful Alice Berry to sing a song on the bus ride out to the Jetsetter Lounge. She conjured an impromptu rendition of 'Bali Hai' that was simply lovely, and it was the first time I'd heard the words ever.

One of my favorite Hukilau moments; thanks, Alice!

Cheers,
~Rupe

Chris, I am shocked! :)
BOT page 123, the opening to the James Michener chapter:

"Bali Ha'i may call you, any night, any day,
In your heart, you hear it call you: come away, come away.
Bali Ha'i will whisper, on the wind, on the sea,
here am I, your special island, come to me, come to me!

Your own special hopes, your own special dreams,
loom on the hillside and shine in the stream.
If you try, you will find me, where the sky meets the sea.
Here am I, your special island, come to me, come to me."

I know what you mean, I never HEARD the lyrics until I listened to Gloria Lynne's version, her pronounciation was so clear yet so romantic.

This IS what Tiki culture is all about, folks:
"Here am I, your special island! Come to me, come to me!
Your own special hopes, your own special dreams..."

Everybody wanted to have their own special ...private Idaho! :)

K

Wow..every so often something just stupifies me. I had no idea there were people who love exotica/tiki-dom and didn't know this song backwards and forwards..LOL. I mean, nothing against you in the least, I just always assumed Bali Ha'i was sort of a "mantra" of polynesiacs everywhere. I m ust have something like 120 versions of it..LOL.
By the way, interesting tidbit....Bali Hai was kind of an after thought for "South Pacific." They felt they needed another song to "round out" the musical and thought "Hey, let's write a song about the island" and they wrote it lyrics and all over a 15 minute lunch break...seriously. The rest is history.

Wait...big bro - you actually WROTE in the BOT?!?!?! :wink:

Funny you should post this chris. I too have never seen SP, but it's one of those soundtracks that I always pass up at the record stores. I've heard the song from the movie before, but it never dawned on me that there were such extensive lyrics.

R
rupe33 posted on Mon, Aug 6, 2007 8:49 PM

If you haven't seen the movie... I'd recommend checking it out, but I'd also say read Michener's "Tales Of The South Pacific" book first.

In the States, The movie turns up on TCM from time to time - try a Tivo Wishlist if you've got Tivo. It is out on DVD--and a more recent production with Glenn Close is available too (haven't seen it yet).

Also... you'll never look at Mr. Hand (Ray Walson, also from 'My Favorite Martian') the same way again after seeing the 1958 film!

Bali Hai will call you!
~RUpe

I was just looking through the new TCM guide this afternoon and saw "South Pacific" listed again. It looks like the next showing will be September 20th at 12:30 Eastern/9:30AM Pacific time.

Always one of my favorite songs - that is one magical refrain! Occasionally it makes an appearance among the background music at the Bali Hai restaurant; always a nice compliment to the Mai Tai.

I must admit I find South Pacific hard to watch. Kind of like West Side Story. I love the sets, the colors, the costumes...but as soon as the characters break into this operatic singing, I cringe. Unbearable to watch for me. Hard to believe, but there ARE things that can be too kitschy, too tacky, even for me.

The first time I got to see it was spectacular, it was a special screening at the the Zoo Palace in Berlin, on the HUGE screen. That was before Tiki. For me as a contemporary cinematographer, the use of those pink soft-edge filters to enhance the "romantic" mood was an experience of shock and disbelief, like "they didn't really do that, did they?".

BUT it had an indelible impact on America, and thus was a main ambassador of Polynesian pop:

From "Cold War Orientalism---Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945-1961" :

Donald Henahan recalled that Rogers & Hammerstein's songs achieved a level of ubiquity in the late 1940s and early 1950s that few contemporary songwriters could match: "Few inhabitants of America in 1949 could have failed to know every dramatic nuance and singable note of South Pacific...the Rogers score penetrated every layer of American culture...For years, no American ear could escape...The songs oozed out of every radio and television set, assailed one in elevators, restaurants and washrooms. A generation of susceptible youth could hardly escape them, and did not try."

BM

I agree with the 'kitschy' unWATCHABLE assessment..these are different times. Even in the 70s when that thing would come on the Movie of the Week I'd avoid it like the PLAGUE--everything is just FINE until they start SINGING --with the possible exception of 'Bali hai', which with the staging and pretty decent performance always came through fine..
its more of your PARENTS tiki than ours--yet it WAS hugely influential in urban polynesiafied patios and faux exotic home decor modifications

I might not interpret this correctly, but it seems that this the point where I diverge from much of "OUR" Tiki, which is the Tiki of today I guess. To me it was always about "our parents' " ( or grandparents') Tiki, and ITS greatness, my appreciation for it really and effectively being a modern form of ancestor worship. I cannot watch the singing in South Pacific, but I am fascinated by the effects it had on mid-century pop culture, and so I appreciate it as a phenomenon.
I look at so much in Tiki today and shake my head...automatically relegating myself to a "parental" mindset by taking that perspective. :)

T

To quote:

"For me as a contemporary cinematographer, the use of those pink soft-edge filters to enhance the "romantic" mood was an experience of shock and disbelief, like "they didn't really do that, did they?"."

As a contemporary cinematographer (with an obvious appreciation of tiki culture) how can you not love South Pacific? Real Technicolor, huge Todd AO format, those colors...sadly no film will ever be able to look like that again.

It's like an experimental film done on the scale of epic Greek tragedy...it's poetry man. Just the scenes at Liat's hut alone...

"Real Technicolor, huge Todd AO format, those colors...sadly no film will ever be able to look like that again"

I totally agree, that's why I mentioned that I saw it on a huge Todd AO screen that it was intended for, it was amazing, as I said earlier: "...I love the sets, the colors, the costumes.." but that still does not do away with the singing.

And that soft edge filter effect: I shot music videos for the Cramps with that later. And the Liat scene...you don't have to convert me there, either: Book of Tiki, last paragraph page 125 --it was THE scene in the movie.

You will find song coming from the most unlikely sources

YouTube: David Cassidy sing Bali Hai .

I did almost a full hour of different versions of "Bali Ha'i" as a bonus Quiet Village Podcast episode (between episodes 90 & 91). You can check it out here: https://digitiki.com/podcast.html

H
Hamo posted on Mon, Apr 18, 2022 7:39 PM

One of my favorite versions of the song is by Andy Williams:

https://youtu.be/AwWYFX_Kdnc

T

Dating myself to say I saw SP when the film first came out in the late 1950's. The camera filters used in the film were not popular with some film critics in that period. Also the fact that Mary Martin was not cast in the films lead role ticked some off.

You know I rewatched it again after a long period elapsing. I gotta say it’s beautiful and yeah the colored filters are annoying. But the thing that struck me was the lack of camera movement. It was a ton of really long static shots. It really made the film drag a bit. Beautiful scenery and songs but the lack of dynamics in the cinematography was really a drag on the film. I’m not a fan of remakes in general but I’d like to see a remake of this film.

Led Zeppelin may have won the case where they were accused of plagiarism of the song Taurus by Spirit.

But what about the similarity between the beginning of Immigrant Song and Bali Hai?

YouTube: Led Zeppelin: Immigrant Song (Live 1972)

There are only so many notes in the western musical scale. I doubt Robert Plant or Jimmy Page ever heard Bali Hai, although it was a top ten hit for Perry Como in 1949.

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