EXOTICA: THE ENCHANTED SEA

It's hard to explain why I love lounge music so much — it's very silly music played by very professional musicians, background sounds for a vanished world, offering clues to a certain attitude about coolness that seems unrecoverable except in dreams.

Martin Denny more or less invented the Exotica (or Tiki) brand of lounge music in the Fifties.  He lived in Hawaii and played this music in a lounge there.  It must have made Hawaii seem like a movie set — or more like a movie set.  When he recorded the music, his albums swept the nation, making everyone feel as though they were on a Hawaiian movie set.

It's early evening, in 1959 — there's a breeze off the ocean, coming in with the sound of the waves.  You're in an open-air bar drinking something made with coconut milk and rum, remembering what it felt like, back during “the big one”, to get a little shore leave in Waikiki on your way to the bloody islands further west, in the general direction of Tokyo.  Who knew then it would be so bad, requiring something like a miracle just to survive it all in one piece?

A girl is about to walk up to the bar from the beach, wearing a brightly-colored cotton dress, with an orchid in her hair.  She's going to be trouble, big trouble — but you can handle it.

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