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Aloha ʻOe

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Cover of "Aloha ʻOe", 1890 Play
Queen Liliʻuokalani

"Aloha ʻOe" ("Farewell to Thee") is a Hawaiian folk song written c. 1878 by Liliʻuokalani, who was then Princess of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It is her most famous song and is a common cultural symbol for Hawaii.


The story of the origin of the song has several variations.[1] They all have in common that the song was inspired by a notable farewell embrace given by Colonel James Harbottle Boyd during a horseback trip taken by Princess Liliʻuokalani in 1877 or 1878 to the Boyd ranch in Maunawili on the windward side of Oʻahu, and that the members of the party hummed the tune on the way back to Honolulu. Different versions tell of alternate recipients of the embrace—either Liliʻuokalani's sister Princess Likelike Cleghorn or a young lady at the ranch.[2] According to the most familiar version of the story:

This tender farewell set Liliʻuokalani to thinking, and she began humming to herself on the homeward trip. Overhearing, Charles Wilson observed, "That sounds like The Lone Rock by the Sea," a comment with which Liliʻuokalani is said to have agreed. When the party paused to rest in an orange grove on the Honolulu side of the Pali, the others joined in the hummings, and the song was completed later at Washington Place.[3]

The Hawaiʻi State Archives preserves a hand-written manuscript[4] by Liliʻuokalani, dated 1878, with the score of the song, the lyrics, Liliʻuokalani's English translation, and her note evidently added later: "Composed at Maunawili 1878. Played by the Royal Hawaiian Band in San Francisco August 1883 and became very popular."

The first known recording of the song was released by Berliner Gramophone in 1898.[5] A catalogue issued by Columbia Records in 1901 mentioned two wax cylinders labeled "Vocal Solos in Hawaiian", containing some of the earlier recordings of "Aloha ʻOe" and "Kuʻu Pua I Paoakalani". However, it is uncertain if this was recorded in Hawaii or if the performer was Hawaiian and the cylinders are now lost.[6] Columbia Records later recorded a duet of the song by Nani Alapai and Henry N. Clark in 1911.[7] A 1913 score can be seen at the Levy Sheet Music Collection.[8]


Haʻaheo e ka ua i nā pali Proudly swept the rain by the cliffs
Ke nihi aʻela i ka nahele As it glided through the trees
E hahai (uhai) ana paha i ka liko Still following ever the bud
Pua ʻāhihi lehua o uka The ʻāhihi lehua[a] of the vale
Hui: Chorus:
Aloha ʻoe, aloha ʻoe Farewell to thee, farewell to thee
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo The charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers
One fond embrace, One fond embrace,
A hoʻi aʻe au Ere I depart
Until we meet again Until we meet again
ʻO ka haliʻa aloha i hiki mai Sweet memories come back to me
Ke hone aʻe nei i Bringing fresh remembrances
Kuʻu manawa Of the past
ʻO ʻoe nō kuʻu ipo aloha Dearest one, yes, you are mine own
A loko e hana nei From you, true love shall never depart
Maopopo kuʻu ʻike i ka nani I have seen and watched your loveliness
Nā pua rose o Maunawili The sweet rose of Maunawili
I laila hiaʻai nā manu And 'tis there the birds of love dwell
Mikiʻala i ka nani o ka liko And sip the honey from your lips
Hui Chorus


Parts of "Aloha 'Oe" resemble the song "The Lone Rock by the Sea" and the chorus of George Frederick Root's 1854 song "There's Music in the Air".[9] "The Lone Rock by the Sea" mentioned by Charles Wilson, was "The Rock Beside the Sea" published by Charles Crozat Converse in 1857,[10] and itself derives from a Croatian/Serbian folk song, "Sedi Mara na kamen studencu" (Mary is Sitting on a Stone Well).[11][unreliable source?][12][original research?] The "Aloha Oe" Chorus melody was also used as the counterpoint to the chorus of the jazz song, Hula Lou and also could be a counterpoint to Woody Guthrie's folk song, "This Land Is Your Land" or Dan Baird's "I Love You Period".

Notable recordings[edit]

Film appearances[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

An instrumental rendition performed by George Kulokahai, is featured in many episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants as background music.

The song has appeared in several instances throughout Disney's Lilo & Stitch franchise. In Lilo & Stitch (2002), Nani sings it to Lilo as a farewell the night before they were to be separated. In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Spooky" (2003), Lilo reveals to Stitch that she sings the song to herself as a coping mechanism, which leads to Stitch doing so for himself later in the same episode, to Lilo's approval. In Leroy & Stitch (2006), Jumba Jookiba uses Elvis Presley's cover of the song during the creation of Leroy to secretly program a fail-safe within him; this is exploited during the climax in Stitch (dressed up as Presley), Lilo, and Reuben (along with several of the Experiments near the end) play an upbeat rock version during the finale to shut Leroy and his clones down.

In the episode "Cruise Cat" of Tom and Jerry (1952), a guitar version of this song plays in the background.[19]

In the first episode of the 1963 Hanna-Barbera cartoon Top Cat entitled "Hawaii, Here We Come", at the start of the episode, Benny the Ball sings the song, after winning a free trip to Hawaii, sometime later Officer Dibble also sings the song. They both however replace some of the lyrics with English ones.

"Aloha 'Oe" appeared in the scores of many of Warner Bros.' classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons, as composer Carl Stalling's stock musical cue for Hawaii-themed gags. Usually instrumental, but Bugs Bunny actually sings one line of the refrain at the very end of Case of the Missing Hare. In the 1953 cartoon short, Duck Amuck part of it is briefly sung by Daffy Duck when the scenery is changed to a Hawaiian setting, courtesy of a sadistic mystery animator and again in A Squeak in the Deep. In the 1958 Oscar-winning short Knighty Knight Bugs, the cartoon ends with an enchanted sword performing an instrumental version of the song (played by a musical saw).

The chorus of the song serves as the intro for Spike Jones' interpretation of "Hawaiian War Chant". ("As the sun pulls away from the shore, and our boat sinks slowly in the west...")

The song also appeared in the Popeye the Sailor short, Alona on the Sarong Seas, where it was played in the beginning of the short, and after Popeye eats his spinach.

In the Japanese anime Space Dandy (created in 2014), the eponymous main character is captain of a spaceship called the Aloha Oe.[20][21]

The Jack London short story Aloha Oe features the chorus of the song.[22]

When Jiang Zemin, then-Chinese President and the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, arrived at Hawaii at the beginning of his state visit to U.S. in October 1997, he played "Aloha ‘Oe" with a Hawaiian lap steel guitar and invited then Hawaiian First Lady Vicky Cayetano to sing the song at a dinner with the presence of Governor Ben Cayetano. Jiang recounted that he used to frequently play this song when he was in college in 1940s.[23][24]

It is also used in the final scene of Train to Busan.

The castaways sing the song as a good luck charm to a robot toward the end of the Gilligan's Island episode "Gilligan's Living Doll", as it is about to walk from the island underwater all the way to Hawaii.

The song is played in the eighth episode of the 8th season of The Simpsons, "Hurricane Neddy", when Ned Flanders drives away to the psychiatric hospital.

The song appeared in episode 4 of the HBO miniseries The White Lotus.

The song was heard in 2007 film Alvin and the Chipmunks when Alvin was humming and using the towel rack as a Hula hoop.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Hawaiian flower (Metrosideros tremuloides)


  1. ^ The Queen's Songbook, by Her Majesty Queen Liliʻuokalani, Hui Hanai, Honolulu, 1999, pp. 38–39. ISBN 0961673877.
  2. ^ Wong, Jonathan. "Aloha Oe". Retrieved May 28, 2018 – via Huapala.org.
  3. ^ Kelsey, Theodore. 1927. "The Queen's Poem — 'Aloha ʻOe,' by Liliuokalani," Paradise of the Pacific 40: 4. Cited in The Queen's Songbook by Her Majesty Queen Liliʻuokalani. Hui Hanai, Honolulu, 1999. Dorothy Kahananui Gillett, text and music notation; Barbara Barnard Smith, Editor. Also, see Aloha Oe Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Translation of "Aloha Oe" handwritten by Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii, 1838–1917". gallery.hawaii.gov. Archived from the original on 2016-08-21. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  5. ^ Steffen, David J. (2005). From Edison To Marconi: The First Thirty Years Of Recorded Music. McFarland & Company. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-7864-2061-2.
  6. ^ Schmitt, Robert C. (1978). "Some Firsts in Island Leisure". The Hawaiian Journal of History. 12. Honolulu: Hawaiian Historical Society: 99–119. hdl:10524/376. OCLC 60626541.; Schmitt, Robert C. (1995). "Notes & Queries – TIn Foil and Wax: Hawaiʻi's First Phonograph and Records". The Hawaiian Journal of History. 29. Honolulu: Hawaiian Historical Society: 183–186. hdl:10524/509. OCLC 60626541.
  7. ^ a b Bryan, Martin F.; Bryant, William R.; Sears, Roebuck and Company (1975). Oxford and Silvertone records, 1911–1918. St. Johnsbury, VT: New Amberola Phonograph Co. p. 30. OCLC 2593220.
  8. ^ "151.019 – Aloha Oe. (Farewell To Thee). [English and Hawaiian] – Levy Music Collection". levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu.
  9. ^ "Nalu Music » Aloha 'Oe". www.nalu-music.com. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  10. ^ "126.093 – The Rock Beside the Sea. A Romanza. – Levy Music Collection". levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu.
  11. ^ "The Originals: Aloha Oe". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
  12. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com.[dead YouTube link]
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890–1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 155. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  14. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  15. ^ "The Online Discographical Project". 78discography.com. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  16. ^ "Lilo and Stitch Aloha 'Oe". wn.com. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  17. ^ "Lilo and Stitch Versions of Aloha Oe". History of Hawaii. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  18. ^ Phares, Heather. "Lilo & Stitch 2: Island Favorites". All Music. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  19. ^ "Cruise Cat Soundtracks". IMDB. 1952. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  20. ^ Green, Scott. "Figure Sculptor Makes "Space Dandy" Aloha Oe and QT". Crunchyroll. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  21. ^ Green, Victoria. "'Space Dandy' Recap: A Merry Companion Is a Wagon in Space, Baby". The Celebrity Cafe. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  22. ^ London, Jack (1993). The Complete Short Stories of Jack London, Volume 1. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804720588. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  23. ^ "President Jiang Zemin of China". partners.nytimes.com. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  24. ^ StevenChangHZ (April 19, 2012), 江澤民演奏夏威夷吉他 [Jiang Zemin Playing Hawaiian Guitar], archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved March 29, 2016

External links[edit]

Media related to Aloha ʻOe at Wikimedia Commons