Tag Archives: folk music

There’s a Daisy on my Toe

There’s a Daisy on my Toe

Personal Background:

Jack is a sophomore at California State University, Long Beach and is studying aerospace engineering. He is part of the Air Force branch of ROTC and is from Huntington Beach, California. He has grown up in a family that is also from southern California, and he considers himself someone who has a lot of “American values.”

Folk Song:

            “There’s a Daisy on my toe/ It is not real, it does not grow./ It’s just a tattoo of a flower/ So I look good taking a shower/ It’s on the second toe of my left foot./ If you ask me it looks real good./ There’s a daisy on my toe/ It is not real, it does not grow.”

This is a song Jack learned when he was at Camp Shalom in the Santa Monica Mountain Institute in Santa Monica, California for his AP Environmental Science Class. This is a song that the camp counselor taught his group one day when they were on a hike so they could pass the time. It was a song only his hiking group knew, and when everyone would get together, his group would sing the song the other groups did not know. Even though it was only taught to his group, he calls them “The Sunshine Bears,” other people from other groups said they had heard the song at other camps.

To Jack, this song is a reminder of his friends, The Sunshine Bears, he had while he was at camp. He was able to have this connection with only his group, and it is something he is able to take with him. It brings him a sense of happiness that he had a great time at the camp, and he also loves the fact he was able to mock the other groups who did not know the song.

Analysis:

What makes “Daisy on my Toe” a folk song is the fact that it is not copyrighted. It is something that is made for young kids to sing and have fun with. It has a simple enough rhythm that is slow, and has very simple lyrics, making so anyone can learn it. It is the perfect for children. It is part of a culture that is surrounded by camp and young kids, yet they do not need to know anything about the song to enjoy it the most. To me, it was a way Jack was able to feel like a kid again, even though he was in high school. He was able to be weird and crazy in the Sunshine Bear group. A song about a daisy tattoo can have a much deeper connection that originally thought.

“The Story of Maui”

 

            The informant is from Honolulu, Hawaii and she first heard the myth in elementary school, where she explained she learned most of the folklore and traditional stories related to Hawaii due to the inclusion of what she called “cultural education” in classroom curriculum. A practicing Hula dancer, the informant also picked up stories during her dance classes as a child. The informant also explained that the myth was authored into a song by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, a popular Hawaiian folk singer who encouraged Hawaiian sovereignty by reviving and popularizing traditional Hawaiian stories.

           

             Maui―like the island―was a demigod. Well, he was better than a person but he wasn’t a deity. He was a super trickster kind of guy; he was fun, and sneaky, like a hero. Maui is actually in a lot of Hawaiian stories, but one of the popular ones that a lot of kids know is that he was canoeing with his brothers when he received a message from a god. It might’ve even come to him in a dream, but it had definitely come from a god. The message was that if he went fishing, he would pull up a huge catch, um, but he couldn’t turn around to look at it or he would lose his catch. So he and his brothers are paddling, and Maui feels his line go taut. He pulls it, it’s really heavy, but he keeps pulling as the canoe moves forward. One of his brothers, the story goes, turns around, and because the brother looked the line snapped. Turn out, Maui had actually pulled up the Hawaiian islands. That’s why Hawaii is shaped like a chain, with the big island and the small ones trailing behind it. They descend in size because that’s what they looked like coming out one by one from the ocean. It’s actually said that there would have been more Hawaiian islands. . .but somebody looked.

 

            The story the informant retold bears all the classic indicators of a myth. It takes place in a pre-world (or, in this case, “pre-Hawaii”) setting, the characters involved are of divine or semi-divine importance, and it describes the genesis of a land and its people―the story of Maui is, more narrowly, a creation myth.

            The myth’s presence in Kamakawiwo’ole’s song immediately reminded me of stories about Hercules. The lyrics retell a string of Maui’s heroic deeds much in the same way books on Greek mythology usually dedicate a chapter or more to describe the (lengthy) list of Hercules’ achievements. The informant explained that Kamakawiwo’ole encouraged a resurgence of a Hawaiian identity movement through his music, and his lyrics clearly illustrate the pride Hawaiians should have in their land and culture. For Kamakawiwo’ole’s musical rendition of the myth, please see his “Maui Hawaiian Sup’paman,” produced  by Big Boy Records.