« Hawaiian War Chant » was composed by Johnny Noble, who borrowed the melody from Prince Leleiohaku’s 1860 song, « Kaua i ka Huahua’i » (We Two in the Spray).
The chant came to popular attention in 1939, when Tommy Dorsey’s big band covered it as a fast swing number featuring a driving beat played mostly on the tom-toms.
It was not written as a war chant, and the Hawaiian lyrics describe a clandestine meeting between two lovers, not a battle. The English title therefore has nothing to do with the song as it was originally written and performed in Hawaii.Wikipedia
Felix Mendelssohn and his Hawaiian Serenaders
More « Hawaiian War Chant »
Since Dorsey’s recording, « Hawaiian War Chant » has been interpreted in more different ways by more different artists (The Revelairs, The Ventures, Ray Charles Singers, Henry Mancini, Sonny Lester, Billy Vaughn, Sandy Nelson, …) than just about any other exotica number, ranging from lush string-laden syrup to numerous percussion-only showcases to harpsichord filigrees to Moog bubble pops. It’s one of those instant tip-offs that you’re looking at a piece of exotica-age pop.Read full comment
Of course, Spike Jones had his own vision…