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Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Facing Future (33 1/3 series) Paperback – December 10, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dan Kois is a contributing writer to New York magazine and a film critic for the Washington Post. He was the founding editor of New York's culture blog, Vulture, and has written for the New York Times, Slate, the Oxford American, Television Without Pity, and Honolulu Magazine. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082642905X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826429056
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.4 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,107,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cherry W. Tolliver on January 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Finished the book a couple of weeks ago and then sat next to a woman born and raised in Hawaii and we talked for two hours about IZ and the islands. Great job Dan. I really enjoyed it and wished it didn't end. A great book for those people who enjoy the music but haven't spent much time there and an outstanding book for those of us with such a strong respect and love for the people, culture and history. Not only does it capture IZ's life and rise to a guardian of Hawaiian culture, it shows how he (like Eddie Aikua) unconsciously became a hero to its people. Really enjoyed reliving a lot of the memories as you explored the different corners of Oahu and brought to life the history and depth of Hawaiian music.
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Every once and a while you hear a song in the credits of a movie, and though you have no idea what the song is, or who it's by, that song perfectly matches the emotions from the movie's ending. Such is the case of Iz Kamakawiwo'ole's beautiful ukelele version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" that played during the credits of Finding Forrester.

I've seen that movie countless times. It's always a tear jerker for me. But the tears come - not when Sean Connery's character dies - but when Iz's music starts playing. The melody and vocals are so forlorn, yet so hopeful...almost unearthly. It's a masterful pairing. But like most songs that roll with the credits, it's a song you never hear anything more about.

However, this song was different. I eventually tracked it down, and after listening to it countless times, decided to find out more about the singer. Turns out it was a thousand pound hawaiian named Iz who was apparently worshipped by his fellow islanders, suffering from a drug problem, and being put through the ringer by bad management. It also turns out...he was dead. It was enough to whet my appetite.

I quickly discovered Dan Kois's 'Facing Future' on Amazon and made my purchase on a whim. I am so glad I did. The author writes in a way that lets you not only learn about Iz's amazing life, but become a part of it. It's hard to tell whether it's the author's writing style, or the richness of Iz's life, but the book is far more engrossing than most standard non-fiction. You will be deeply moved by this gentle giant's honest story, and devastated by how it was cut short.

I highly recommend 'Facing Future' to readers of all genres. You will not be disappointed.
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I so enjoyed this book. I knew little about Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, or Hawaii for that matter, before I started reading, and I've learned so much since. The author does more than merely tell a story about how Iz accomplished all that he did, but also considers why Iz played, who profited from his success, and who was left behind, giving various perspectives on a subject obviously controversial and sensitive to Hawaiians.

It's a fascinating read, even for those who aren't already fans of Iz or his work.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A wonderfully sympathetic (though never apologist) view of a remarkable Hawaiin musician. From street kid to philosophic music legend, Isreal never really hit the heights of fame until after his way-too-early death. However, the book shows unapologetically, where the roots of both Isreal's music and his early death came from. It's a tragedy that we lost him so early, but his contribution, to music, especially Hawaiin music, is profound. A great read!
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My first introduction to Hawaian culture was by way of the songs and hula's I learned from a halau. I fell in love with the beautiful dance moves to melodies and lyrics that celebrate an attention to and love of simpler elements of nature such as a flower, leis, a bird, a coconut tree, the moon, the stars, the sand, the ocean. Love of family, of children, of a woman, of a man, of a family home, of Hawaiian ways are celebrated. All from the heart. When I was taught a hula danced to "white sandy beach of Hawaii" by some hula friends, I was captivated by the voice, the lyrics and the melody of the song. After viewing the its official video in YouTube, I was introduced to this wonderful Hawaiian musician Iz. In a few words and in Iz way, he shared his soul regarding his losses of family members before he strummed his ukulele and sang. My heart sank when I found out a few clicks later, Iz already passed on close to 20 years ago, and at age 38. I suppose there is a timeless quality to the video, being shot on a Hawaiian white sandy beach with a Hawaiian singing and strumming a ukulele. This started my wanting to know much more about Iz. Then I bought your book, Mr. Kois. Btw, I did not know who sang over the rainbow/wonderful world. I just kinda liked the song before I learned bout Iz from "white sandy beach.."
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You've been to Hawaii, right? Actually, have you ever been to any place that tries to put forth a "tropical" summery vibe, up to and including the place that rents innertubes at Harper's Ferry? Then you know the sound of Iz.

That would be Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. (Everyone called him Iz.) He's the one who recorded that ukelele version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," which appeared on his album "Facing Future," which was released in 1993. (The "Over the Rainbow" cover was made one drunken night in 1988.) Millions of record sales later, that song has been used in a lot of commercials -- especially commercials aiming to make yuppies feel more ethereal about their purchases and vacation plans -- and basically anyplace you've ever ordered a daiquiri. As much as it makes me think of the Sheraton in Kona, it also makes me think of the Internet bubble economy circa 2000.

That's where Dan Kois comes in. He's written "Facing Future" for the 33-1/3 book series. (The series of books pairs a writer up with a legendary album and has the writer do a pocket-sized book-length essay about it.)

I had the pleasure of reading Facing Future in manuscript form last summer. Of all the authors who've ever asked me to read their book for them, this was the one I put the least amount of red pen marks on. It's an engaging and tragic story, quite well told, about a darker and more wistful side of life and death in Hawaii.

(Review repurposed from my blog, hankstuever + dot + com ... come by sometime.)
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