From Captain's Quarters comes the news that Don Ho passed away today.
As somebody who has never been off the mainland, I used to consider my liking his music to be a guilty pleasure -- especially when everybody else I knew was listening to Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Black Sabbath, etc., or, later, the Dead Kennedys and the Sex Pistols, and Nirvana, and Korn, and so on. I enjoyed most of that, too. But I made it a point to watch any show in which I knew he was expected to appear as a guest, and bought bunches of his recordings (most of them on tape, none of which has aged well). Then, a few years ago, my friend and neighbor took a trip to the Big Island, and, having fallen in love with the place, pined for it. It seems it's easy to long for a tropical paradise, especially if you live amid corn and soybean fields (and other heavy-allergen-producing plants) in Illinois. I shared some of my tapes and my lone disc with her, and she seemed much relieved to hear the familiar sounds... those recordings had an almost medicinal quality, for us, in the midst of hayfever season, as well as in the deepest winter chill.
I wish I could come up with some fond memories of having seen him in concert, or having had some chance encounter with him, or some other tales to regale. All I have are many happy years listening to his voice warm me when the icy Midwestern winds blew.
Don Ho had a thoroughly pleasant voice, performed a fair assortment of fun -- and often very sweetly romantic -- songs, and had a great sense of humor, to boot. I will surely be only one of a great many who will miss him. And not just for his "Tiny Bubbles."