Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 46

My Three Songs with Hani Hara

 

Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE 46 – My Three Songs with Hani Hara  Welcome, everyone, to Episode 46. This is the 36th in our series of episodes called My Three Songs where my guest chooses three memorable songs and we listen to the songs and talk about why they are meaningful to my guest. Hani Hara’s is one of my wife’s amazing uncles, and is an accomplished visual artist; and someone who is very passionate about music, too! We listen to and discuss three meaningful songs for Hani, including “Rock Around the Clock.”

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Three Songs

  1. Rock Around the Clock – Bill Haley & His Comets (1955)
  2. Comin’ Home Baby – Herbie Mann (1961)
  3. FIre on the Mountain – The Grateful Dead (1978)

Aaron’s Radio Show has been licensed by ASCAP and BMI to include songs from their repertories in performances on this website.

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Transcript

This transcript was originally generated using artificial intelligence ("AI") software. It has been edited by a human being, but it may still contain some misspellings, lack necessary punctuation, or include other anomalies. We are regularly working to improve our transcripts!


Jake:

Coming to you almost live from Berkeley, California. It's Aaron's Radio Show with your host, Aaron Gobler.

Aaron Gobler:

Thanks, Jake. And welcome, everybody to Episode 46. Welcome to My Three Songs, where I play three special songs chosen by my guest, and we talk about why they chose each song. Today my guest is Hani Hara. Hani is one of my wife Lisa's amazing uncles. He's a very talented visual artist. And as I've discovered recently, very passionate about music. Welcome to the show, Hani, how are you today?

Hani Hara:

I'm doing very well, Aaron, thank you for having me appreciate.

Aaron Gobler:

Oh, it's my pleasure. I know I've been kind of nudging you for a little while. And I'm delighted that you've chosen to be on the show. Now, I have to say I love your artwork. It makes me think of Picasso, but a much brighter and more upbeat version of Picasso.

Hani Hara:

Well, thank you so much. Picasso was definitely a very, very strong influence on me even as a young young person. You know, I appreciate that comment, in the sense that it does have some of that feel, as well, some strong colors, which I love to paint with.

Aaron Gobler:

Yes, certainly, we have a few of your, your works in our house. And you'd actually given Lisa and I a wedding gift of a painting, too, so we have that in our living room. So think about you often.

Hani Hara:

Well, that's very kind. Thank you.

Aaron Gobler:

So like I said before, I'm really delighted to have you as a guest. What inspired you to be on the show?

Hani Hara:

You know, it's funny, when you started doing the show a few years ago, I've been following you. I've listened to a few episodes along the way. And, you know, all along, I thought, man that's tough to pick three songs, you know, out of all ... and so on. But, you know, the more I thought about it, I said, let's give it a shot and see what happens. And so I was able to pick at least three songs that have a good memory for me.

Aaron Gobler:

Mmm hmm. In your process of coming up with your three songs? Did you feel rewarded by it? Or challenged by it? Or did it divulge something to you that you hadn't thought about?

Hani Hara:

You know, it's funny, before I even committed to the show, I started thinking about songs and what songs would I pick? There's so many I've had such a long life of music. There's been so so many wonderful songs along the way that just have made such an impact. But it was tough. It was tough. But eventually I did come up with some songs. And as we keep talking, I think, you know, we'll figure out why I picked them. And, you know, so let's see what happens as we get going.

Aaron Gobler:

Right? Before we get to your song list. Can you tell me how music fits into your life? Like do you seek it out? Is it usually in the foreground or background of each day?

Hani Hara:

Oh my goodness, I Yes, I listen to music ... usually in the car. If I'm watching any kind of sports, I'll just turn off the sound and listen to music. You know, I was a very, very big collector of records when I was younger, worked at different record stores, you know, at an early age and a lot of ways to accumulate a lot of albums. One place I worked at was such an education and music. This was in Columbus, in Columbus, Ohio. You know, this was in college and worked at a record store called Discount Records and at Discount Records you had to take a test to get a job there. A music test. I'd never heard of such a thing. But it was great because when I applied the manager of the store said okay, we're looking for a guy in rock. I said that's what I'm applying for. But you still have to know more about everything else you can't just know by rock and nothing else. So you get Just me a test with classical and folk and jazz and, you know, all kinds of music. And, you know, thank God I passed because what it did is that I ended up working with experts in all of those other music fields. So by the time I finished, it was almost like an education in music. Because we all had the chance to use the turntable when it was our turn. And you can get any album in the store and put it on, you could open it and turn people on to it. So everybody was putting out something to try to inspire the next person, you know, yeah, it was really a lot of fun. A lot of fun.

Aaron Gobler:

That sounds like an awesome experience. It's hard to find even record stores nowadays. That's really a unique experience, I feel like and I'd like to take that test to I think I'd like to see what that test looks like,

Hani Hara:

Thank God, I knew that Beethoven had nine symphonies. I think that's what did it for me!

Aaron Gobler:

You almost didn't get that one. So ...

Hani Hara:

Yeah, I knew that one. So that was good.

Aaron Gobler:

Do you find yourself seeking out music each day nowadays, or in most of your life?

Hani Hara:

Not only seeking it out, I'm 73 years old, and I'm always searching for new music. And I find that there's such great music, I belong to Apple Music, so I can just about any, any record out there I can get. And they start to suggest things that go with my taste. There's so many new groups, so many, great, such great music being produced these days. And in different genres, you know, it's like, I could listen to hip-hop, and get an appreciation for it. Even though that's not what I usually listen to. But to me, it's all about the creative process of coming up with a great beat or something, you know, that can catch me, put me in a great mood.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, to that point, I don't think there's anything like pure rock and roll or a pure jazz, there's so many influences, and any musicians, like any kind of artist, you know, get influenced by other artists, and put their own imprint on it. So it's it's difficult to get really bored listening to music. And it's fun for me when I'm listening to songs that I've not heard before, to actually start ... and this may really bore the people who I'm around when I'm when I start ... talking about it is like, oh, I can hear the influence of this or this sounds so much like that person or whatever. And then I'll go on Wikipedia and I'll look it up and it'll say so and so was influenced strongly by this or this such a such performer was actually one of the musicians in the song or something.

Hani Hara:

Yeah, yeah. All that means is you gotta really you've got a wonderful ear you know, for not just the record, but the inside of the music. You know, who's playing? What, when's that coming in? Yeah, that's pretty cool. Like the other day I'm listening to some music with a friend of mine and and he's going "Are the horns in there?" I go "of course, can't you hear the horns and listen to the, you know, the organ!" you can start to decipher the the individual instruments.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, I do find that I'm able to listen to a song and just concentrate on a certain part of the song. You know, certain very distinct styles like George Harrison guitar playing or a particular voice. Some of them are so unique that you could tell Dave Matthews singing in a song for example. It's a never ending journey. And it's great that you are open to experiencing, you know, new music as well.

Hani Hara:

Which is one of the song picks that we'll talk about later as well.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. Okay. Well, let's, let's jump into your list. The songs you chose were "Rock Around the Clock", by Bill Haley and His Comets, from 1955. And I'm assuming that's not the newer song that you're talking about. "Comin' Home Baby" by Herbie Mann from 1961. And "Fire On the Mountain", by the Grateful Dead from 1978. Prior to producing this episode, I only heard of "Rock Around the Clock", but I'm eager for us both to listen to all three of these songs. And I'm interested in knowing why each of them is meaningful to you. So So again, let's start out with the first song on your list, "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets. Hani, this has to be one of the most recognized songs in America and it was the first Rock-and-Roll record to reach number one on the US charts and my understanding is it remained there for about two full months. And I'm eager to know what inspired you to include this song on your list.

Hani Hara:

Well, the reason I included this was, as you all know, I was born in Egypt, in Cairo, Egypt. And in the 50s, I used to go to the theater, which was just an outdoor theater with a bunch of chairs. And you'd sit outside and see American movies, I must have been eight, nine, something like that when the movie, "The Girl Can't Help It" came out near my house. And here I am as, as an Egyptian Jewish kid from Egypt, watching this movie, with all the great bands, including Bill Haley and His Comets, Gene Vincent, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, I think was in there. I mean, there were tons of Rock-and-Roll people, you know, groups in that movie. And I'm sitting down, mesmerised. You know, we're in a different country, Rock-and-Roll is not the thing over there. And I'm listening to and I'm watching this movie, and I just fell in love with Rock-and-Roll. You know, at that time there was my Dad ... hadn't even said anything about moving. We eventually did come to the United States, where this was normal. But at the time when I heard it, it created such a spark in my soul, that there was something out there that was so different than anything I've ever been used to. And so Rock-and-Roll and pop music became a big, big influence on me even in Egypt, even though I didn't have my hands on any record. I didn't even have a record player. But I was able to sometimes listen to through the movies.

Aaron Gobler:

What kind of music were you listening to? Prior to that, I think you said you were nine when you heard this.

Hani Hara:

Eight or something like that. And the only time I would listen to music is when my father would put in, put on some music of the popular Egyptian singers. Oh, my concern was a wonderful singer. And you know, then the Egyptian music was more soulful, very slow. And it really from the heart. And then all sudden, this Rock-and-Roll comes up. You know, it was so different! I mean, it was really, yeah, that it just blew me away. It blew me away. Yeah. You know, eventually, when we did come to the United States, man, oh, man. That's what I really got into music.

Aaron Gobler:

And what year was it that you arrived in the United States?

Hani Hara:

We came to the United States in 1959, June of 59. It's funny, we, you know, the people that kind of sponsored us to come to the United States as refugees, and immigrants, put us up in a hotel. And there was an old TV and my sisters kind of make fun of me. But as soon as we walked into that room, I went to that TV. And I got it to work. I don't know what the hell I did. But I was able to, you know, get going. And of course, what was the first program that we ever saw in the United States was American Bandstand. So it was like besheret that it should be time to get into this. So that's why that song is so meaningful, really.

Aaron Gobler:

Awesome. And as I was researching the song for the show, because I always want to learn something new that I hadn't before. And then listen to it. Again, after not hearing it for a while, listen to it very closely. It is categorized as like, you know, Rock-and-Roll. But it actually seems like it's maybe a bridge between the Big Band sound, and a more what we would call rock based sound, although most of us probably wouldn't call this Rock-and-Roll, I guess at that time, that was the name that was given to this kind of sound. But it really has that Big Band sound as well. It seems like it was like the the entry drug into Rock-and-Roll for people who are really used to the Big Band sound.

Hani Hara:

Well, you know, that's part of it. But I think part of the other way to look at it is that why did Bill Haley in the comments put out this record, you know, of Rock-and-Roll ... well Rock-and-Roll was going on in the Black community. I mean, the Black people were into, you know, blues, Rock-and-Roll. I mean, really great songs. But Haley being a white guy, you know, was able to sell it, you know, and cross-over. You know, when you look at the history, there's a lot of wonderful songs that were done, you know, before albums before Bill Haley and before Gene Vincent, you know, the Black singers would do and then eventually caught up a little.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, that is definitely part of the history of, of music is either you can call the appropriation or repurposing or performance by white artists of songs that were written and performed, you know, sometimes 10, 20, 30 years earlier by Black artists.

Hani Hara:

Exactly. You know what America music is Black music. You know, if you take it back far enough jazz, you know, blues rock. Yeah, it's all came from our Black brothers.

Aaron Gobler:

Speaking of jazz, that's a good segue into your next song, which is a wonderful tune by Herbie Mann, called "Comin' Home Baby". And let's give that a listen and we'll talk about it on the other side. Hani, I'd never heard this song before this week. The band sound evokes for me like a 1960s vibe. And I don't think I've heard long jazz pieces like this where the flute is front and center. So what inspired you to include this song on your list?

Hani Hara:

Well, 1966 I think it was a wonderful friend Richard invited me to his house, I would go there and sleep over and he collected jazz records. And he comes up with this album. "Live at the Village Gate "with Herbie Mann. Well, Herbie Mann was a flutist, which was unusual in jazz, but he really, it blew me away. I love love that. Richie and I would stay up late and I would sleep at his house and we'd get on the radio and listen to Rochester New York jazz station was the only jazz station we could actually get late at night and there was such great music, Coltrane, Miles, Herbie Mann, I mean, all these guys ... that up until that time, I was more a rock guy, you know, like a pop guy, The Beatles, The Stones, you name it, I was that's what I was into. And when Richie introduced me to jazz, it was really such a an eye-opener that there's this wonderful music that is out there. And I really became a collector of some wonderful, wonderful jazz music, especially when I worked at the record store that because the jazz guy there turned us on to even, you know, more music that was so outstanding. And so the reason I put that record on, is because it started to take me and introduced me to more music, you know, and jazz and blues. You know, folk, classical, all of a sudden, I couldn't get enough of all kinds of music. That's why I put that one in there.

Aaron Gobler:

It's remarkable how, like you said, like this example one song could like, kind of blow your mind, just like the "Rock Around the Clock". It's like you hadn't even thought about this kind of sound. And then you hear it, and then all of a sudden you need to get more.

Hani Hara:

Exactly, yeah, it's out there. I mean, all you have to do is dig a little bit those days. You know, it was 45s, eventually 33s. But, you know, I collected them all.

Aaron Gobler:

Would you have classified yourself as part of some group like Beatniks ... or I don't even know, I'm not even sure what a Beatnik is; I just kind of know that term. Would you hang around with people who were like in a certain music scene?

Hani Hara:

Especially college age. When I worked at the record store. Yes. Before that, it was more, you know, going to see the local bands, you know, there was one band, The Dantes, that would play the stones, music and all kinds of English rock. There was other bands that play and, and they would have these battle the bands at different venues. And so you know, you'd have all the kids from all the high school, not just your own area, but from all over town would come to these and it would be dancing, and the music was great. It was just such a great time. Really, such a great time for music. It's, you know, I gotta tell you, Aaron, it's always great music, all you have to do is, you know, just listen.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, although as we get older, and we experienced this from our parents, too. It's like, you know, the parents would ask, like, what are you listening to? And that seems to be perpetual thing because there's, you know ... I with my young adult daughters and stuff that they were listening to, I'm like, what is this? And, you know, I wouldn't say this to them directly, but in my mind, I'm thinking like, how could they be enjoying this? But then, you know, it's just a perpetual thing. It's always that way. But you know, but once in a while I will hear something that's very contemporary, and I'm like that is really neat. That's really new. And I liked that. Yeah.

Hani Hara:

I mean, I remember the first time when Josh, I think it was, or Jesse put on ... those are my son's ... put on some music and it was, you know, it was like crazy music and, and I said, "Can't you turn it down!!??" Donna, my wife, says "I thought you said you'd never say that to your kids!!" I said "I lied!!"

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, it's just that we're not attuned to it. It doesn't speak to us in the same way.

Hani Hara:

But I will say that I even though in the beginning, I couldn't get into the rap. But I got to really respect it after I really got to know it. And it may not be something that I would listen to. But I remember one time. You know, I came home with a Queen Latifah CD, and the guys made so much fun ... "Dad! You know what this is???" I'd say "it sounded great!" But that's why I got it.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. And like you said earlier, you're keeping an open mind to, to new stuff, or listening for new stuff. And it seems to me that you've gotten into the Grateful Dead relatively recently. So the last song on your list is a song by The Grateful Dead. We'll get that a listen. And then we can talk about Grateful Dead after we hear it. And that song is "Fire On the Mountain". So let's give that a listen. Hani, I'll admit, I only know a handful of Grateful Dead songs. And they're mostly the ones that are this length about three to five minutes. Because I know they have some really, really long, really long songs. So why did you choose to include this song?

Hani Hara:

Well, like you, I really wasn't into the Dead. That, you know, throughout my life, I think I went to see 'em 68, 69, 70, around there at a local club when they were just starting out in Columbus, but it never really made an impact and, and eventually, my youngest son, Jesse got into 'em. And he started traveling and seeing them. And they always said "Dad, Dad, you got to try them!" "Naw, that's not my thing." you know. And that's just another example of being open-minded. As you as you age, that's a beautiful thing. About three years ago, I was invited in Cleveland to a wonderful, wonderful gentleman that would hold these Dead weekends. And they would invite all these Dead bands cover bands to come in. And maybe there was an Allman Brothers Band one one day, you know, so it was kind of a jam weekend. And, you know, listening live to the music, that the Dead, you know, wrote later on, it just blew me away how great it was. And so right after that, I just listen, I mean, I couldn't get enough of it. And, you know, the Jerry Garcia Band, the Dead Band, you know, and that led me to other bands that cover them. Now it's Dead and Company. And Bob Weir and the Wolf Brothers, I mean, there's some great music. And so, the reason I picked it is because, again, you know, to have something new at the age of seventy is a gift. Especially when it's been around the whole time, under a cover that I never uncovered, you know. So that's been that's been great. And, you know, there's such such good music, such good music.

Aaron Gobler:

So have you actually, I was gonna say, are you collecting music, but we don't really collect music in this same way we used to, like, you know, going out and buying all the different albums. But do you find that your I guess the the analog of that now is by going on to like Apple music, iTunes and such and purchasing stuff. Are you creating a collection of their music?

Hani Hara:

All my life I collected art, er, records. You know, it started with LPs. And to this day, I may have six or 700 albums. Of course my son Jesse took a bunch of good ones which I told him with pleasure ... I was happy he was doing it. It would save them later on when I died ... he didn't have to clean up as much. But then it became 8-tracks and I started collecting 8-track and then cassettes and then DVDs. By the time Apple Music came around, I had over 21,000 songs that I collected on my iPod, you know and that was tremendous. And now I look at it, it's meaningless. I've got every record ever made, which was a Robert Klein bit, by the way that he did, you know, late night, you know, buying records. And he had one bit that was like, they would, you know, all the song titles would scroll so fast, you can even see, but they were scrolling, because every song ever made on this, you know, you can buy. When I think about that bit how funny it is now, because on my phone, I have every song that's ever been made just about. And so technology, you know, a lot of guys that I know that are so so you know, the LPs are sacred and all that. I said, No, no, it's the music that counts. It's not how it presents to you, but the music. And so it's so easy to come up with songs, now. You have a question or you wonder what song is, two seconds later, it's playing on your, you know, on your Apple Music, or whoever with Pandora or whatever, you know,

Aaron Gobler:

I had a similar conversation with another guest. And that the magic we have now of like going on Shazam, and having the software or even Google listen to a song that's playing and tells you who it is. And you know, and then you can go and buy it or listen to it right away or like you saying, Tell Siri or Google on your phone to just play a song. And that's, that's it. That's really remarkable. But we've also lost some of the magic of some of the thrill, I guess, not really magic, but the thrill of actually going to the store and buying it and taking record home and opening it up and playing it and stuff. There's something there was something mystical about that. And so that mystical part is gone.

Hani Hara:

No question. Yeah, it's so funny, you say that, because anytime that Donna and I would go to a store that had a record department, I was always at the record department, flipping through each record, you know, what I mean? You know, all these years, we'd walk in, she goes, "I'll come and get you when I'm done." And that was the first place I went to, and you know, you start accumulating these wonderful collections. I mean, some great Blue Notes I mean, you know, jazz, which is phenomenal. So yeah, that part of it. I agree. 100%. I used to love to go into a store that had records, a bookstore, record store, whatever it was, just flip through each one and see what kind of treasures and you know what, here's the funny part is that my Jesse, my younger son does that now, he collects records, LPs. So the tradition continues.

Aaron Gobler:

So Hani, is there anything else you'd like to share about your selections, like things you may have thought of, while we were playing the songs or answers to questions that I didn't pose to you?

Hani Hara:

You know, it's been such a wonderful visit with you, Aaron, you know, to talk music. We don't do that, that that often now. So it's been a great pleasure reliving some of my thoughts on music, and it's, you have such a wonderful podcast, and you know, to be able to discuss why all your guests pick theirs and everybody that I've listened to have such meaning of, you know, it's not that, like one guy a couple of days ago that you interviewed. He says this, it's not my favorite, we all have favorites every month, you know, every time you hear something, my favorites, but it they all make an impact, you know? And so when you do revisit that song, you know, when it comes up on your on your Apple or whatever, it just such a pleasure, such a pleasure. And the ones that I don't, you know, they come up that I don't know, those are the even better, because then I can go to the album and see, is it just the one-song band? Or is the whole album any, you know, what's their history? You know, there has to be just more than one song.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, I hear you. Yeah. And that's, it's really great that you are adventurous and explore like that. And I have found that my guests are all passionate about music, I think in order to to volunteer to be on the show, you have to really I feel like, have some strong feelings about music and then have be able to reach into your self and see those connections, how that music has attached itself to different parts of your life. And then everybody's come, you know, to the show with those stories.

Hani Hara:

Yeah, yeah. Because what you're asking is really not the three best songs or the three favorites. But give me three memories in your life. Why did you pick these, you know? Yeah, that's the beauty of this show. Because then you really get to find out about someone.

Aaron Gobler:

Well, Hani, I want to thank you again for your time and, and for sharing with me the stories and the songs, and their meaning; it was great catching up with you. I don't see you very often and it was good actually having a nice long talk with you about this because I really I don't think either of us have ever had a conversation about about music, it was a lot of fun...

Hani Hara:

Not one-on-one. And it's been wonderful Aaron and I want you to make sure you give Lisa and the girls a big hug and my sister a big big hug. I miss you guys. And now that things are settling down hopefully, it'll be sooner than later that we visit.

Aaron Gobler:

Thank you again, Hani. I really enjoyed our time together. And I want to say to my listeners if you want to be part of the show, start by going to our website Aaron's Radio dot Show and clicking on the My Three Songs button on the homepage. You can also sign up for our mailing list so you'll know immediately when a new episode is available. You can also find Aaron's Radio Show on your favorite podcast service, but the podcast episodes only include interviews and no licensed music. So until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

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