Award-winning filmmaker SJ Chiro reviews Alicia’s movie, Living on the Earth – The Musical

Alicia’s poster for her movie, and a photo of Alicia performing the live show upon which the movie is based.

My dear friend, celebrated director/screenwriter SJ Chiro, who, right now, is launching her latest masterpiece, “East of the Mountains,” just took the time to review my first, and most likely, only, movie, “Living on the Earth – The Musical.”

Here is what she wrote:

I watched Alicia Bay Laurel’s one woman show, “Living on Earth – The Musical,” with rapt attention. The 1-hour-47-minute running time flew by.

As a child of her contemporaries, growing up on one of the communes on which Alicia herself lived in her early years, I listened as she unwrapped her history, a history I had never known. Tales of when she was a girl. The experiences which shaped her, including a fraught relationship with her mother.

As children, we only know what we experience of people in the present. I saw adults who had already made the decision to break with their straight, uptight parents and go back to the land, living simply and illegally, eating brown rice and vegetables communally, and walking down long dirt roads with bare feet. This was their present, but how did they get here? And now that they were here, what did living on the land mean to them? What were they eschewing? Why had they created a new paradigm?

Alicia tells the answers to these questions, and more, as she sings and plays her guitar in the style that brought me back to my childhood, her mellow voice, sometimes soothing, sometimes full of energy. I saw a portrait of a strong-willed and clever independent teenager who lit out for San Francisco and eventually made her way North to Sonoma County.

Always energetic and creative, Alicia decided to make a book illustrating Life on the Land. She called it Living on the Earth and it was surprisingly a huge success. As a young woman she was suddenly famous, and had money. A lot more money than most of the people around her. Alicia doesn’t shy away from honestly recounting how this imbalance caused some problems and resentments among her peers, but the show keeps on truckin’.

Soon Alicia is in Hawaii and other locales. The stories keep coming. At one point, she is joined on stage by her great long-time friend and collaborator Ramón Sender Barayón. How beautiful to see two artists who have known each other for so many years, respect each other’s company and make music together.

Some of Alicia’s rawness may shock, some inspire laughter, some elicit “Wow!”s from the audience. That is the glory of the unvarnished truth of a lifetime, and we are so lucky to get to hear all this from the master artist Alicia Bay Laurel.

SJ Chiro
Director East of the Mountains
Director Lane 1974

East of the Mountains” is available from practically all Video on Demand outlets . It’s poetry in cinema.

Here is a particularly wonderful review:…/east-of-the-mountains…

Here’s the link to see “Living on the Earth – The Musical.”

The movie, “Living on the Earth – The Musical” has begun streaming service. Autumn equinox movie and book launch online event with Alicia Bay Laurel on September 22 at 9 pm EDT

Here is the link for the online event, which is free, and available to viewers both on and off Facebook:

Here is the link for the movie:

The trailer is already available at the same link.

There is a modest paywall of $7.50 US to “rent” the movie for 48 hours.

The movie will remain available on Vimeo for a few years, at least.

The autumn equinox event will include Q&A with Alicia about the movie (so please see the movie first), as well as about the two new editions of her 50-year-old books, Living on the Earth and Being of the Sun. She might tell some stories that aren’t in the movie, too.

Alicia will create and send (via email) free illustrated, personalized book inscriptions (normally $10 each) for either of these books if purchased from the Indigo With Stars online store during the event.

Here are the links to purchase the books:

Please send the names to be inscribed, the email address of the recipient of the inscription page, and any special message you’d like included, to Alicia at

Here is a time zone converter to help determine when the event will occur in your time zone:

Monday! Monday! THIS Monday! I am sooooo excited about this!The truly, utterly divine work of my friend and lifetime shero Alicia Bay Laurel is coming to LIFE in a video. A musical, no less! I would not miss this for the world. Join the celebration!

Beth Owl’s Daughter
Author, Writer, Seer,
Sun/Wheel/Magician. Anti-dystopian
Durham, North Carolina


I watched the trailer, and I think your film is going to be incredible.  You are such a wonderful storyteller, as I learned the day we spent walking around the arboretum and talking.  And you are so funny!  I will watch the movie once it comes out.  What a wonderful story about how the movie came about with Luis Olano.

Barbara Light Lacey
Author, Singer/songwriter
Dallas, Texas


I loved Living on the Earth and have followed Alicia Bay Laurel a bit, but had not heard of this new work. I count myself incredibly lucky to ended up at Star Mountain, and the amazing communities in the area in the very early eighties. My life was forever changed by those times, and I am so grateful. Thanks for the recommendation.

Kelli Kennedy


Hi Alicia,

Alan and I watched the movie last week.  Wow! I love it!  I enjoyed hearing your story and songs.  It brought up many memories –  a lot was familiar to me, but some was not and your story tied it all together.  I’m glad I was able to see it – thanks for sending me the link!  Your art is continuing to evolve and expand!

Lani Harriman
Santa Cruz, California


How I learned 1960s-style no-computer graphic layout: My first job and my first boss

Wonderful Art Kunkin, when he founded the Los Angeles Free Press in 1964.

I first met Art at my first Renaissance Pleasure Faire, when it was still a fundraiser for Pacifica Radio’s Los Angeles station, KPFK, which was the soundtrack of my childhood, growing up with leftist parents in Los Angeles.

A couple of years later, he offered me my first real job – doing graphic layout at the Freep in the summer of 1966. There, based on conversations with friends also working there, I plotted my course to the Haight-Ashbury, where my real life began.

A letter I sent to these same friends from Ann Arbor, Michigan, which they placed in Letters to the Editor unbeknownst to me, resulted in a write-up by Joan Didion in the Saturday Evening Post in January 1967, titled “Alicia and the Underground Press.”

The no-computer layout skills I acquired at the Freep served me well in creating the first edition of Living on the Earth in 1970.

Art and I remained in touch over the years, and I saw him again when he was in his 90s in Joshua Tree, California.

The first new English edition of Being of the Sun since 1973, and its trippy book trailer

A 5-minute video synopsis of Ramón Sender Barayón’s and Alicia Bay Laurel’s celebration of freedom to choose one’s own spiritual path, with suggestions of practices and projects that have given them joy, including immersion in nature, making music on homemade instruments, and celebrating cycles of light.

Echo Point Books & Media, of Brattleboro, Vermont, expects to release the book in July 2021. Pre-ordering the book is available here.

In 1973, Ramón recorded himself and Alicia performing some of the songs, chants, drone pieces and improvisations in the book. In 2013, Alicia had these archival tapes remastered to create an album, Songs from Being of the Sun.

The original 1973 Harper & Row edition of Being of the Sun is available here.

The Soshisha, Ltd. Japanese language edition is available here.

History and reader comments about Being of the Sun here.

The colors of the cover and interior color illustrations for the 2021 edition are from scans Alicia made in 2019 of the original color artwork she created in 1972, which are more vibrant than the color pallettes used by publishers of other editions.

The 50th Anniversary, 5th English language edition of Living on the Earth: book trailer, production notes, and reader response

This video is a sample of the illustrated, handwritten pages of the 50th Anniversary Edition of Living on the Earth, accompanied by my recorded performance of my song “Onward, Onward, Ever Flow,” a song based on a chapter from the Tao Te Ching, which I wrote while living at Wheeler Ranch Commune and writing Living on the Earth, in 1969. I created the video in collaboration with digital designer Karen Tsugawa in November 2020. “Onward, Onward, Ever Flow” is track 12 from my 2015 album More Songs from Living on the Earth.

Buy the 50th Anniversary, 5th English language edition of Living on the Earth here.

After the first four editions of Living on the Earth went out of print, I began selling in my online store the remainders I had previously bought from the publishers. When it became clear that I would run out of books within a year, I began looking for a publisher with whom to collaborate on a new edition, which, coincidently, would be published on the 50th anniversary of the first (Bookworks, 1970) and second (Vintage/Random House 1971) editions.

What I really wanted was a publisher who would allow me to create, for the first time, the digital layouts for the pages and cover, and give me the book designer’s typical control over the ink and page colors, and the paper and cover stock. I was very fortunate to find good collaborators in the friendly people at Echo Point Books & Media in Brattleboro, Vermont. Thank you very much, Marshall Glickman, Fred Lee, Mark Chickering and Anneka Kindler!

My digital graphic skills were limited, but I was coached over Zoom by the excellent digital designer, Karen Tsugawa, who I first met when we both had art in a group exhibition in Osaka, Japan, in 2019. Every new skill I learn from her brings me joy.

People ask me how the 5th edition is different from the first four editions. Here is how:

1. We decided to omit most of the appendices, because the information in them becomes outdated from one edition to the next. Most of the information in the appendices is easy to find on the Internet.

2. I wrote a new preface, explaining how, where and why I began creating this book.

3. Greg Castillo, a professor at the school of architecture at University of California at Berkeley, wrote a new foreword for the book. Greg, one of the curators of the Hippie Modernism exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) in 2016 and 2017, as part of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco, included Living on the Earth in the exhibition, and has written academic papers discussing the value and message of this book. I am very grateful for his support of my work, and also very happy to call him a friend.

4. The pages are wonderfully opaque. This really shows my artwork to advantage. Thank you, Fred Lee, the production manager at Echo Point Books & Media, for finding this excellent paper, and even finding one that is sustainably sourced.

5. I went back to the original back cover design, from the first edition, with a list of the subjects covered in the book. This seems more useful to readers than a display of a series of rave reviews on the back cover, as we had on the third and fourth editions. If you are curious about what was written on the back cover of the fourth edition, I have posted it below.

Front cover, Living on the Earth, 50th Anniversary, 5th English language edition, Echo Point Books & Media, 2021
Back cover, Living on the Earth, 50th Anniversary, 5th English language edition, Echo Point Books & Media, 2021

Back cover of the Gibbs Smith, Publisher 4th edition, from 2003

Reader Responses:

Ray Mungo wrote a love letter to Alicia Bay Laurel when Living on the Earth first came out. The radical simplicity and sophistication of her vision, page after page, enchanted us on Total Loss Farm. Luckily, ABL visited and lived with us for a time in the frozen north, the start of lifelong friendships. The children who used the pages as a coloring book have children of their own. LTE had a huge influence of book publishing. They called the oversized paperback “the Alicia Bay Laurel format.” In this pandemic year of loss and climate catastrophe, Alicia’s lyric vision is a consolation for our “over-civilized,” disconnected nation.

Verandah Porche
Poet, teacher, community leader
Guilford, Vermont


As for reviewing your book, I am positively behind that. It truly is one of my favorites.

I am so happy to hear about the new 50th Anniversary publication of Living On The Earth. I love my yellowed, weathered copy of the original, and am thrilled that readers of my novel will have easy access to your vision and sage advice. I hope you enjoy my book.

Thank you for sharing your light!  
Portia Sykes
author of Eat the Moon: A Climatic Love Story to Save the World


I received the book – it’s lovely!

Greg Castillo
Professor at University of California at Berkeley School of Architecture


The book arrived and it is marvelous! congratulations!
And thank you for reissuing this for another generation.
It is SUCH a beautiful book. A treasure of beauty and awareness.

Rachel Jamison Webster
Author, Director of Creative Writing at Northwestern University


Thrilled! Just in time for a New Moon in Pisces seed planting time.
It’s as gorgeous as ever!

Jodi Paloni
Maine Coast Writers Workshops

My favorite page:

Jodi, I was at one of Stephen Gaskin’s Monday Night Class lectures when he said this. ABL

I got your book today.. thank you so much.. it’s like a time portal.. the hippie handbook of my youth.. sure doesn’t seem like 50 years ago.. but then it could be 100 years ago.. surprising how little has changed .. but then everything has changed .. I can see why your sales have been good this year.. something for everyone in there..a great and handy lockdown companion.

Mahalo and take care. Aloha,
Diane Burr
Chef and Gardener
Haiku, Maui


This book got me though the biggest challenges of my life.

Christopher Carnrick
Chef and television personality
Naples, Florida


There is a better way to live on this sweet planet and we can find it as we dance, sing, make candles, plant gardens. Even if you don’t have a garden you can still learn something in this wonderful book. Over the years I’ve owned 3 copies and given it as a gift more than once.

Patricia Harman
Best-selling novelist, former commune dweller, and former nurse midwife


This book was a formative book of my youth, published when I was 9. I am so excited to see it is available again! It was a source of enchantment and homesteading fantasies – not just its content, but for the transporting drawings and hand-written text. It is both magical and practical – it’s instructions for simple and sustainable living relevant still. I credit this book with my ongoing interests in earth friendly architecture, healing arts and community systems, and treasure my stained old copy as other books head off to the library sale. This one is staying forever.

Susan Hadden
Architectural Designer
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


My most favorite book ever. It’s a road map on how to live naturally and be happy.

Vincent Dembinski
Ingleside, Illinois


The video looks great, and captures the feeling of your wonderful book. My sister and I adored the 1st edition of Living on the Earth, and you definitely influenced our views on the right way to live. I can’t believe it is now 50 years later!

I love the fact that I read and enjoyed the first edition of Living on the Earth in 1970. And now I’ve had the chance to meet you 50 years later. A real pleasure and honor.

Mark Chickering | Project Development

ECHO POINT BOOKS & MEDIA, LLC (publisher of the 50th anniverary edition of Living on the Earth)


Hi Alicia,

I just wanted to say that your book arrived today! I have only read through the first few pages, but already it is reawakening my desire and excitement to pare everything I own down to what can fit in a van and set off to explore the country! The illustrations are so beautiful, as are the words. Thank you for creating such a lovely and useful resource. Everything is blooming here in central Missouri and I can’t wait to use the earth’s many spring offerings to try out the recipes and guides from your book. It could not have arrived at a more perfect time.

Samantha Leal
Studied intentional communities at university and planning to visit some!
Columbia, Missouri


Breezily and refreshingly original, educated a generation in the art of living hip, transmitted by a true hippie pioneer who was THERE at the exact right time to experience it all, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. A must have for any library.



Fun, beautifully illustrated, and full of fascinating and very useful information. An absolute must have in your home library — for generations to come.



A lifetime ago, this beautiful book was bought for me to celebrate the freedom of the seventies! May it continue to inspire a new group of young people with its simplistic yet meaningful message. Live and respect our earth!

Susan Wexler
Retired School Counselor
Worchester, Pennsylvania


Your book has arrived! It’s simply lovely! 
I liked the instructions on sauerkraut, as I had been thinking I might try it. Nut milk. 
I’ll be reading it some more.
And I see the new addition to the book!
That has information I have been wanting. 

Cherryl Chow
Milpitas, California


I’m just realizing my need to invest in the future beyond me. So, now my daughter’s little family and I are planning how best to transform the family property into our food source. The first thing that comes to mind is my fairly new copy, (because my old one was 47 years old and quite frankly falling apart), of Living on the Earth. Good place to start.

Elaine Marie Noel
Oceanside, California


I love Alicia Bay Laurel…her book contributed so much to my life when it came out..I still have my 50-year-old copy, which is basically in tatters because it traveled with me everywhere, and also another newer edition from early in the 2000s.  Far cry from my urban industrial home girl vibe, but it resonated so deeply….was a guiding force in me moving to Marin too.  So cool that she sent you an inscription for your new copy.  And awesome that it is still in print…♡♡♡

Lindsay Forbes
Ann Arbor, Michigan


This timeless, classic, magical book was my bible to natural living when I was a teen. I had a copy of the original printing of this book, and the wonderful drawings, the ideas, the simplicity and beauty and love for the Earth that Alicia put into it, is a true gift to the world. It touches the human heart, and harkens us back to a way of life that I feel is so needed in the world today!

Rhianne Newlahnd
Artist, Writer, Musician
Sedona, Arizona


I love this book. This timeless handbook continues to inspire. The whimsical line drawings are masterful in their simplicity.

Leslie Arwin
Medical Doctor and Horsewoman
Ann Arbor, Michigan


I STILL have my well-used and much-loved copy of Alicia Bay Laurel’s original 1970 edition of LIVING ON THE EARTH on my bookshelf. I finally met Alicia in person in 2000, when she performed for Earth Day in San Diego. She graciously signed my book, which I had been carrying around for thirty years.

Linda Joy Lewis
Vegan Chef and Cookbook Author Earth Angel Kitchen
Jacksonville, Florida


What a gorgeous book! Love that it’s getting reprinted. Congrats!

Leigh Birdmoon Medeiros


Thank you so much for creating such a wonderful work of art. I’d wanted this book for many years and am so happy it is finally part of my library!  

Eleanor Whiteley
Berlin, Germany


I bought my first copy of Living On the Earth way back in the early 70s when I was 17 years old. It’s concepts and values influenced me so strongly and shaped my early adult life. My life ended up going in another direction for a time, but 50 years later, I’ve found my way back. The 50th anniversary edition is as relevant today as it was back then. It feels like reuniting with a past lover.

Peter Glatz
Bertha Bus Gypsy Wagon Cuisine
Eclectic fine dining in a school bus!


Buy this book.

So happy to know that this amazing book is in print. It’s a family treasure.

Amazon Customer April 7, 2021


I lent my friend my copy of Living on the Earth a year ago and she decided she couldn’t live without it!  She just adores it! Not long after getting her own copy, she actually switched to vegan eating and holistic living!

Alicia Bay Laurel Moore Ashlock
Johnstown, Colorado


I bought a copy of Living on the Earth directly from Alicia’s site after seeing a post you [Beth Owl’s Daughter] made a few years ago about books that you found life-changing. I instantly adored this book! Her drawings are enchanting and the information so important. It was so cool to see it in Melbourne as part of the Revolutions exhibit for being an icon of the back to the earth movement in the ’60s.

Christine Candora-Hickey


I just wanted to reach out and say that I recently had an amazing thing happen regarding your book Living on the Earth. I found and purchased my first copy almost 20 years ago and quickly fell in love. I would take it with me everytime I would move around, and unfortunately I lost it after a terrible breakup almost 10 years ago, along with most of my possessions. Fast forward to the present, where in conversation someone mentioned how neat it would be to have a handwritten field guide of sorts for simple living/homesteading. I immediately remembered your book, and tried my best to describe it and even googled some of the images to share. 4 days later, a friend that lives almost 2 hours away randomly showed up with a gift. It reminded him of me he said, and then produced a copy of Living on the Earth. I was stunned. He had no way of knowing that I had been discussing this book much less my heartache over losing it. Your guide influenced my life in so many ways as a young adult trying to find my way in a mostly uptight southern Indiana town where I struggled to find a community or peers who shared these interests. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and being such an inspiration in my life. I have built a business doing design/sewing from my home and am actively working on my homestead to this day! Shine bright, beautiful, and thank you for taking the time to read.

Kate Stempf


This book is a major touchstone for me, having poured over it as a wee child endlessly. Thank you, Alicia Bay Laurel, for having the brilliance to create this monumental manual to life! So happy I finally found a copy several years ago…I read it often. Amazing illustrations! Thank you for showing me how to sew and remake clothes from my earliest years, Alicia! You rock!

E Georges Grinnell


I still have a copy of that book — I cherished it all the way from the ’70s til now. That book reminded the out-of-the-box wild child me that I was not alone, and that loving trees and playing music and dancing in the sunshine and looking up at the blue sky was the worthiest thing I could possibly do with my life…

Kym Trippsmith
Amazon Queen~Magical Liberation Accomplice
Musical Instigator, Songwriter, Author, Healer, Mama

Sebastopol, California



Part of Laura Clayton Baker’s epic blog post, “In Appreciation of Trees” on her site, “Painting-Box.” Laura is an interior designer in Santa Monica, California, who I met through Verandah Porche.


Thank you, Alicia. I still have my original first edition book, and was overjoyed to send the 50th Anniversary edition to two of my grown granddaughters.

Seasons Greetings (and Happy Anniversary 💜) and to a Bright and Healthy and Joyous New Year❤️❤️

Peace & Love, Sharon Bonner


I think about how you held on all these years to the best of what our generation imagined, not only in your writing, but also through your music and your art (painting and drawing), giving us purity and a return to nature that now is the only option. I find that prophetic.

[When he met you, Kurt] Vonnegut missed a chance to realize a joyful, loving, hope-filled daughter of his own childrens’ generation.

You make us all proud, dear Alicia. I love your rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” 😊🌟😊🌟😊🌟😊🌟😊🌟😊🌟😊, and you were the first to reimagine Ben Franklin’s Farmers Almanac in our terms – lasting terms!

Dale Murphy
Teacher and author
Sarasota, Florida

Alicia Bay Laurel, I just showed your book to my youngest daughter. She’s 14. She loved it. Now she wants to collect books on those topics. She was comparing your handwriting to her own. She’s trying out different ways to make letters to give them more of her own style. She’s one of those kids that nearly didn’t get cursive at school, only printing. There was just no way I was going to let them not learn it. Too much actual first-hand history is in cursive. That’s absurd to allow a generation to come of age and cursive is no more readily understandable than ancient Hieroglyphics.

Anyway, my kids, they don’t have a very high opinion of what they consider “hippies” from what they experienced in Hawai’i. Lot of “crazy,” “drainbow.”

I’ve told them it used to be different, but you know, “yeah, right dad…” lol.

My youngest two really enjoyed the way you made your book & what it covers. They thought it was really cool.

I’m glad.

Michael McNally

Michael, I discovered Living on the Earth at 15 or 16 years old just after Allison’s killing [Allison Krause, one of the four students murdered in the Kent State Massacre]. Alicia’s book saved me and remains a cornerstone of my life view today. Your kids know the real thing when they see, read and explore it!

Laurel Krause
Allison Krause’s sister, and founder of the Allison Center for Peace
Co-founder and director at the Kent State Truth Tribunal

Laurel Krause, your story is a powerful affirmation of the healing power of that book (although I did not recognize this while I was creating it!) Come to think of it, I DID notice that whenever I focussed on getting the book done, miraculous offers of help would arrive, and whenever I got distracted from working on it, I felt miserable. Living on the Earth has been a force to be reckoned with from the beginning.

Alicia Bay Laurel
Author/visual artist/singer-songwriter/storyteller/freelance fairy godmother

Dear Alicia, in the turbulent early 1970’s, your book “Living on the Earth” was my shelter in the storm. A blueprint of a world I longed to be part of. Your words and pictures were my “how to” guide when all was lost. Thank you so much ☮

Laurel Krause

Alicia, your book was and is one of my favorites for this lifetime.

Susannah Grover
Devotee of the Ineffable Stream


What a lovely surprise! Basically Books, a treasure trove of a bookstore, serving Hilo, Hawaii, since 1985, is now stocking the newest edition of Living on the Earth!

New copies of the 50th Anniversary edition of Living on the Earth at Basically Books

Basically Books

The 50th Anniversary edition of Living on the Earth is back in stock. Memories of an idealistic youth. (I still have my original copy) We can always choose to make the world a better place. #livingontheearth #aliciabaylaurel #sustainability #lovetheearth #supportlocal


Growing up, several seminal books helped pave the way to my adult self. One was Alicia Bay Laurel’s “Living on the Earth.” The lifestyle she illustrated was especially enchanting to me, but it was also her simple line drawings that caught and held my attention. I hold her work with Matisse’s or with Jean Cocteau’s for conveying much with only a simple line. Now so many years later, we are Facebook friends, and she is every bit as delightful and wonderful as I imagined she was, all those many years ago.

Terri Van Orman
Executive director at Folklore Village
Former Executive director at Arkansas Craft School
Former Director of Craft Programming at Ozark Folk Center
Acolyte in the temple of Beauty

Crescent Dragonwagon:

We both have Big Anniversary Reissues coming out this year! Congratulations on Living on the Earth’s return. Oh, how I adored this book when it first came out! I was 16…

Alicia Bay Laurel:
Congratulations on your anniversary editions as well. Your cookbooks are legendary and award-winning. I love your recipes!

Crescent Dragonwagon:

Crescent Dragonwagon with the 30th Anniversary edition of her cookbook, Soup and Bread.

Alicia Bay Laurel:
You are totally adorable!


I love your work so much, Alicia Bay Laurel! I am a secondhand bookshop owner and I have a wonderful personal collection of your books. Thank you for all the joy.

Sarah Tooth
Owner, Blackwood Books
Adelaide, Australia

Today Fiona stayed home from school and we read Living on the Earth together!!! A magical moment!

I was wearing your shirt and she was asking me about it so I pulled out the book and she was fascinated, of course!

Gwendolyn Sanford
Film and television composer, singer-songwriter
Los Angeles, California

Gwendolyn Sanford and her daughter Fiona, September 2022


Dearest Alicia, your book is changing my soul. It actually found me. It’s so mystical and the art is absolutely astonishing. It couldn’t have arrived at a more sacred time. Thank you!

I’m so grateful to have your book. My kids and I just moved to West Virginia and your book found us in a little town called Hinton. We were at a festival. It spoke to me. Your art is much like mine. Thank you so much for sharing your gift.

I haven’t really put this book down since it found me. It definitely speaks to me.

Nicole Vidal

When I was just a young sprout, your book was so inspirational to me, and it helped me to survive. Thank you.

Simone Pattingale
Victoria, British Columbia


I can’t ever begin to thank you for all the inspiration you have been to so many and especially to myself with your creative mind, incredible insightful observations, and exquisite truly honestly drawings and paintings.

Margo S. Torelli
Clemson, South Carolina


What Living’s All About: Liner Notes and Lyrics

Back cover (aka tray card) for What Living’s All About. Photo of Alicia by portrait photographer Nils Juul-Hansen in 1999.

Alicia Bay Laurel created What Living’s All About: Jazz, Blues and Other Moist Situations as the third in her CD series. In 2000, Alicia recorded Music From Living on the Earth: Free-spirited Original Songs for Voice and Guitar from the Late ‘60s and Early ‘70s, playing open-tuned guitar in the John Fahey style, followed in 2001 by Living In Hawaii Style: Original and Historic Hawaiian Songs, Sung With Slack Key Guitar, featuring Hawaiian spiritualist/chanter Lei’ohu Ryder and jazz guitarist/vocalist Sam Ahia.  Alicia is best known for her 1970 best-selling hand-written back-to-nature manual Living on the Earth, now in its fifth edition in English, and in print since 1974 in Japanese. 


All songs (music and lyrics) by Alicia Bay Laurel (c) 2006, and published by Bay Tree Music (ASCAP), except “I Could Write A Book” (music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart) (c) 1940, and published by Williamson Music Company and Chappell & Company, and “Nature Boy” (music and lyrics by Eden Ahbez) (c) 1948, and published by Golden World.The spoken words on “I Could Write A Book” are quoted from How To Write A Book Proposal, Third Edition, (c) 2003 by renowned literary agent Michael Larsen. They are used with the kind permission of Writer’s Digest Books, a division of F+W Publications, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio.  All rights reserved. If you could write a book, you need to read this one. The spoken words on “Love, Understanding and Peace” are quoted from the Bible, New Testament, Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, and are in public domain. The powwow chanting and drumming at the end of “America The Blues” is from Honor The Earth Powwow: Songs of the Great Lakes Indians, recorded by Mickey Hart and Dr. Thomas Vennum, Jr. of the Smithsonian, and originally released by Rykodisc in 1991.  The humpback whale song after the powwow is a sample I found on, but not even the webmaster of the website from which it originated was able to tell me from whence it came.


Cover paintings, graphic design and liner notes by Alicia Bay Laurel (c) 2006

Tray card photo of Alicia by portrait photographer Nils Juul-Hansen

Manufactured by A to Z Media for Indigo With Stars, Inc. (Alicia Bay Laurel’s art, music and literary business)

Executive Producer (the person who paid for everything): Alicia Bay Laurel.

Producers (the people who decided together which instruments and singers went on which song, and how to arrange the songs): Oscar-and Emmy Award-winning film composer Ron Grant, and Alicia Bay Laurel. 

Recording: The original sketch for the project was recorded in August 2005 at Seawest Studios, in Pahoa, Hawaii, with Hoku Award-winning owner/engineer Rick Asher Keefer (who recorded Alicia’s first two CDs).  All of Alicia’s guitar parts and her vocal on Best of the Rest of You are from those sessions.  Ron Grant recorded in his own studio some of the vocal parts for “America the Blues” and “Love, Understanding and Peace,” and created the electronic symphony on “America the Blues.” All of the other recording, mixing and mastering was accomplished in November and December 2005 and January and February 2006 at the studio of Scott Fraser in Los Angeles.  Scott is the recording engineer and live sound technician for the Kronos Quartet’s recordings and performances, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for You’ve Stolen My Heart, a collaboration of the Kronos Quartet and East Indian pop superstar Asha Bhosle, which he co-produced. 

Musicians: My heartfelt thanks to all of the superb players who participated in recording this CD, including avant-garde guitar hero Nels Cline (who plays with his own ensembles, as well as with the band Wilco), jazz upright bass legend John B. Williams (Nancy Wilson, Manhattan Transfer, Arsenio Hall Show Band, Tonight Show Big Band) and his red hot R & B vocalist wife Jessica Williams, who forms the gospel choir along with her daughter Vetia Richardson, and her friend Irene Cathaway (with whom she sings backup for Connie Stevens), gospel keyboardist Reverend Harold Pittman (Minister of Music at the Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles), woodwind wizard Doug Webb (who totally smokes on a different instrument on each of four songs), three fabulous top flight drummers: David Anderson, Kendall Kay, and Enzo Tedesco, fluid and cool jazz pianist Rick Olson, two rock-solid, multi-talented bassists: Kevin O’Neal and Chris Conner, versatile actor/vocalist Jody Ashworth, and soulful Liberian gospel singer Francis Nyaforh.


Nudging, kibbitzing, hand-holding and divine guidance:  Ron Grant, Scott Fraser and Rick Asher Keefer (see above), improvisational music legend Joe Gallivan, jazz pianist Theo Saunders and his actress/artist wife Susan Heldfond Saunders, music producer Stan Goldstein (the first Woodstock began as a synapse firing in his brain), jazz vocalist Ruthie Ristich (who coached me), vocalist/ songwriter/ actress/ dancer/ novelist Sierra Faith (who coached me), speech therapist and singing teacher (and godmother) Godeane Eagle (who coached me), artist Tracy Dove (who never stops nudging me to do more art), singer/songwriter Joe Dolce (a shining example), electronic music pioneer and enlightenment wonk Ramon Sender (for funny faces and wise words), guitarist Joe Marquand (who wanted me to record these songs so much he volunteered to play on my sketch sessions for free), journalist Koki Aso (who, while interviewing me for Be Pal magazine, wished mightily for a CD of my jazz and blues songs), record producer Koki Emura (who released my first two CDs in Japan in September 2005 on his label, EM Records), and vocalist/ songwriter/ bassist Sachiho Kudomi, who says now that I have three CDs released in Japan, I should come on the road with her.  Big love and big thanks to you each and all!   

The friends who sheltered me the year I got this CD together: Composer Ron Grant and artist Benida Solow, vocalist and community organizer Lyndia Lowy, architect Walt Bell and artist Norma Bell, surgeon and community leader Barry Blum and playwright and educator Gloria Blum, Professor of Sociology and activist Noelie Rodriguez and Hawaii County Planning Director Chris Yuen, artist Tracy Dove and mechanical genius Ralph Coppen.  How can you tell if hippies have been staying at your house?  They’re still there.  Thank you for your generous hospitality and over-the-top friendship!

Other friends I’d like to thank: Internet promotion mavens Kim Cooper (editrix of Scram Magazine, Lost in the Grooves, The 1947 Project and Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth) and computer wizard Richard Schave, television sound engineer Bill Daly and event organizer Lihau Daly, attorneys Mark and Marissa Batt (who was nominated for an Edgar Award for her first true crime book Ready for the People in 2005), luthier Dennis Lake (for blessing my guitars with his care), luthier David Santo (I’m playing a guitar he built for me in 1976 on this CD), and, of course, my mom, artist Verna Lebow Norman.  Thank you all for your help. I am blessed you are in my life!

The Songs:

Floozy Tune

Beloved by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, my grandmother Anna Lebow (1894-1990), and 20-year-old actress Ali Grant, Floozy Tune should have been written in 1920, when women got the vote and got rid of their corsets.  However, I didn’t get around to it until 1982.

Arranged by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ron Grant, Vocal: Alicia Bay Laurel, Piano: Rick Olson, Clarinet: Doug Webb, Bass: Chris Conner, Drums: Kendall Kay

Mr. Nightlife, Mr. Cool, how could you make me such a goddamn fool?

I was made to sing church songs, but what did I know

‘Til I went out to your nightclub show?

Girls like me never laugh ‘til dawn;

We know too well where the lines are drawn.

So, why do I want to do what I do not do?

I want to sit on your piano and sing you a floozy tune.

Mr. Jazzfingers, Mr. Blues, how could you offer what I can’t refuse?

I was made to be married to some Mr. Right,

‘Til I got enlightened last Saturday night.

I danced and sang and I laughed ‘til dawn;

Fell in your arms when the shades were drawn,

And found I could do with you what I do not do,

So I’ll sit your piano and sing you a floozy tune.

They’re gonna lose their Sunday school teacher, their volunteer librarian.

My mama’s gonna have conniption fits, but it’s time that I had some fun.

Mr. Jazzfingers, Mr. Blues, the Sunday soprano is a sweet chanteuse

Touring the country with a reprobate band,

Reputation lost to a piano man.

Rise at sunset and sleep at dawn,

Deep in your arms when the shades are drawn.

I knew I could do with you what I do not do.

So, I’ll sit on your piano and sing you a floozy tune.

America The Blues

This is a song about speaking truth to power–not only to despots, but to our own collective power.  The operative lyric here is VOTE.  If everyone who could vote actually did vote, we could elect representatives who would work with us to reverse the vast environmental, public health, diplomatic, and human rights problems we earth-dwellers face, and make this a sustainable, joyful world for all who live in it, now and in the future.  To vote well, we need truthful media (for example or  Also, we vote daily with our money; we need to support businesses that further sustainability and social justice, and boycott the rest. We need elections with state-financed candidates and hand-countable paper audits.  Thank you.

Katharine Lee Bates wrote the lyrics to American the Beautiful on July 4, 1893; the melody comes from the hymn Materna, composed by Samuel A. Ward in 1882.  Ms. Bates, a professor of English literature at Wellesley College, prolific poet and author, and ardent feminist, lived openly as a lesbian with her lifelong partner, Katharine Coman, Dean and professor of economics at Wellesley.  Curiously, the lyrics to America the Blues also revealed themselves on July 4th, while I was registering voters for the 2004 presidential election.

Arranged by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ron Grant, Singing and Speaking Vocal, Rhythm Guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel, Speaking Vocals: Jody Ashworth and Jessica Williams, Vocal Harmonies: Alicia Bay Laurel, Ron Grant and Jody Ashworth, Electric Guitar: Nels Cline, Electronic Symphony Orchestra: Ron Grant, Upright Bass: John B. Williams, Drums: Enzo Tedesco

America, the beautiful,

You’re thorny as a rose:

Radiation, global warming

Poisoned food from GMOs.

Your poor die sick and hungry,

And your wealthy live tax-free,

While they murder ancient forests

The soil and the sea.

America, America,

Greed sheds disgrace on thee.

Vote corporations out of power;

Revive democracy

For future generations

And human decency.

America, don’t blow it

All to smithereens.

You don’t need nukes; you don’t need slaves,

And you don’t need gasoline.

What you do need is compassion,

And respect for human rights,

Permaculture, sustainable systems,

Mediation instead of fights.

America, don’t wave that flag

To con us with your jive.

If the multi-nationals have their way

Even rich folks won’t survive.

We’re all family here on this planet,

So lay down that smoking gun,

And start sharing with your neighbors;

There’s enough for everyone.

I pledge allegiance to the earth

In the myriad stars of the universe

And to all the beings who upon her stand

One family, indivisible,

With liberty and justice for all.

America, America,

Greed sheds disgrace on thee.

Vote corporations out of power,

Revive democracy

For future generations

And human decency.

Don’t wave that flag at me;

Try human decency.

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman Blues   

I still can’t believe how much fun I had in the ’60’s, even if the guys wouldn’t commit.

Arranged by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ron Grant, Vocal and rhythm guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel, Lap steel and acoustic lead guitar: Nels Cline, Bass: John B. Williams, Drums: Enzo Tedesco

Sprouts in a jar, stash in a can, a twenty-pound backpack, and a Volkswagen van,

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman Blues.

Bee pollen candy, honey shampoo, seaweed for breakfast is good for you,

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman Blues.

Uncle Sam is my sugar daddy, but you can be one of my valentines, honey.

Just don’t come around when the moon is full, I’m on cosmic birth control.

Easy to come, easy to go, a free school dropout in free box clothes,

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman Blues.

Natural hair, natural mind, the fashions can fool you but the eye don’t lie

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman Blues.

A Guatemalan huipil and natty dread, belly dancing lessons to loosen my head;

I’ve been rebirthed and I’ve been Rolfed and given a mantra, or two,

An astrology chart, polarity rub, astral projection, community tub,

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman Blues.

Beaches by day, boogie by night, always groovin’, never uptight,

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman Blues.

I’m asking the Tao when I meditate to send me the name of my cosmic soul mate,

But before I surrender my ruby nose ring, I’m gonna throw the I Ching,

Cause believe me, Ms. Eve, since Adam split,

The nuclear family’s become a relic,

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman,

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman,

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman Blues.

Zero Gravity

Inspired by the view of Los Angeles from the crest of the Hollywood Hills, Zero Gravity reflects upon the shimmering, pulsating coldness of the star machine at night. Ron Grant created the amazing arrangement on the spot in the studio.  He said to pianist Rick Olson, “Think halfway between Tori Amos and Debussy…”

Vocal: Alicia Bay Laurel, Piano: Rick Olson, Alto Saxophone: Doug Webb, Bass: Chris Conner, Drums: Kendall Kay

You’re never alone in the city,

And seldom you see the moon.

A star’s eye view of the galaxy

Is the usual nighttime view.

Lovers are yearning; fossils are burning;

Virgins are learning, every single night.

A saxophone man in the city

Swings with a chic chanteuse,

And she casts her corsage in the museum fountain

And sings to a limousine muse.

There are deals in the making; there are girls for the taking.

In the discos, they’re shaking, every single night.

Is this a movie we live as we see?

Or is this an exercise for life at zero gravity?

You’re never alone in the city,

And seldom you see the moon.

A star’s eye view of the galaxy

Is the usual nighttime view.

Lovers are yearning; fossils are burning;

Virgins are learning, every single night.

In the late, late twentieth century.

Doctor Sun and Nurse Water

I know. It sounds like a bat mitzvah at a Baptist church, with readings from Dr. Masaru Emoto’s Message from Water. Actually, I wrote this song when I first moved to Hawaii (in 1974) and was healed. Hallelujah!

Arranged by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ron Grant, Lead Vocal and Guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel, Choir: Jessica Williams (soloist), Irene Cathaway, Vetia Richardson, Organ: Rev. Harold Pittman, Bass: Kevin O’Neal, Drums: David Anderson

Doctor Sun and Nurse Water, Doctor Sun and Nurse Water,

You give me rhythm and take away my blues.

Oh Nurse Water, I see you flowing through my veins.

You’re the sunset clouds; you’re the springtime rains.

And you carry away my sorrows, and you leave me purified;

May we run together, side by side.

Doctor Sun and Nurse Water

Oh Doctor Sun, you fade away my city grays,

With the healing magic of your golden rays.

And you dry up all my tears, leave me glowing rosy as the dawn;

You’re the earth’s sole provider of energy for us all.

Doctor Sun and Nurse Water, Doctor Sun and Nurse Water,

You give me rhythm and take away my blues.

Everywhere the people pray for a miracle today

Ain’t they got the sense to go outside when the sun shines?

Go down to the sea and cleanse all your worries and your sins

From your soul whenever the holy solar one shines.

Doctor Sun and Nurse Water, Doctor Sun and Nurse Water,

You give me rhythm and take away my blues.

You give me rhythm and take away my blues.

What Living’s All About

A song about sex, which I first heard about in 1958 when Miss Peggy Lee sang “Fever.”

Arranged by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ron Grant, Vocal: Alicia Bay Laurel, Piano: Rick Olson, Tenor Saxophone: Doug Webb, Bass: Chris Conner, Drums: Kendall Kay

No bought love was ever a bargain; no bought lover was ever a prophet.

No good reason could be without feelin’; no good feelin’ hasn’t a season.

That’s why I’m not in business, I’m in pleasure.

I give and take what I get, I don’t measure.

But unless you treat me as kind as I treat myself alone

Better stop the lights and the action, ‘cause I’m goin’ home.

Yes, I feel a spark of attraction, gravitational polarization,

A vibrational magnetic current, an electrical-chemical reaction.

Oo, it bowls me over like a torrent.

Oh, hear my body heave a sigh.

Ain’t gonna try to reach for the source of emanation,

But I might surrender if you try.

Hips will roll the rhythm of mountains;

Tongues will savor the flavor of human.

Lungs express increased locomotion;

Souls ignite in fiery fusion.

Oh, I’m in orbit; I’m in ecstasy.

This is what living’s all about.

Oh, dear God, won’t you keep those channels open?

Until you gather me home, over and out.

Sometimes It Takes A Long Time

If you are reading this, you’re still alive, and therefore the story’s not over.  Something else could happen.

Arranged by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ron Grant, Vocal and Guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel, Choir: Jessica Williams (soloist) and Irene Cathaway, Piano: Rev. Harold Pittman, Bass: Kevin O’Neal, Drums: David Anderson

Sometimes it takes a long time to find the one you love.

Sometimes it takes a long time to share the world you’re of.

The waiting is hard, but aren’t you glad now?

Sometimes it takes a long time to find yourself a home.

Sometimes it takes a long time to know where you belong.

The waiting is hard, but aren’t you glad now?

Sometimes it takes a long time to find your work to do.

Sometimes it takes a long time to see your dream come through.

The waiting is hard, but aren’t you glad now?

Sometimes it takes a long time to free yourself from things.

Sometimes it takes a long time to learn to use your wings.

The waiting is hard, but aren’t you glad now?

This time it took a long time to find the one I love.

This time it took a long time to share the world I’m of.

The waiting was hard, but I’m so glad now.

Whoa, love you so.

Whoa, love you so.

We’re so glad now.

Love you so. Whoa.

Nature Boy

In the first half of the twentieth century, long before the term “hippie” was coined, longhaired vegans in natural-fiber robes roamed Southern California.  Eden Ahbez, one of the two most famous of these (the other being Gypsy Boots), probably wrote this song in reverence for Bill Pester, who brought the back-to-nature lifestyle to California from Germany before World War I. Based on a Yiddish waltz, “Schwieg Mein Hertz” (“Hush, My Heart”), “Nature Boy” became a ubiquitous jazz standard after Nat King Cole’s original version hit big.  For great pix and 411 on the freaks of yore, pick up a copy of Children of the Sun by Gordon Kennedy on

Improvised by John B. Williams, Alicia Bay Laurel and Enzo Tedesco (upright bass, vocal and percussion, respectively), with special effects by Scott Fraser.

There was a boy, a very strange, enchanted boy;

They say he wandered very far, very far, over land and sea.

A little shy, and sad of eye

But wise, very wise, was he.

And then one day, one magic day, he passed my way,

And as we spoke of many things, fools and kings, this he said to me,

“The greatest thing that you will ever learn 
Is just to love and be loved in return.”

Best of the Rest of You

I hate seeing a friend get used.  But would I tell him? Only in a song.

Arranged by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ron Grant, Vocal and Guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel, Electrified Lap Steel Guitar: Nels Cline, Upright Bass: John B. Williams, Drums: Enzo Tedesco

Tell me why did that woman have to do what she did to you?

She could have left your extra sweat pants, your credit card and your cool.

She could have kept her lacquered fingers out of some of your pies;

She could have left at least a couple stars in your eyes.

Tell me why did you let her get the best of the rest of you?

She fed you ginseng, peyote and vitamin E,

Made you crawl across the room to her on your knees.

Put you on the tantra seminar mailing list,

So she could go there with you, and her psychologist.

Don’t get attached, baby, you might be considered gauche.

Tell me why did that woman have to do what she did to you?

She could have picked some narcissistic, bullet-headed bodybuilding fool.

But that ball-busting lady don’t like macho boys,

She’d rather try to leave behind a trail of broken toys,

And there she goes, baby, with a brand new Erector Set

She has a way with circuits and she rewired you

So you would run from other women when she got through.

She’ll be back when you recover from your deep sea bends,

Just to see if you’ll go down to her dive again.

Better take your bathysphere this time; you might be down for a while.

Tell me why did that woman have to do what she did to you?

She had the spiritual rap, the kitten eyes, and the moves.

She didn’t care about your marriage, your ego or your art,

Just a juicy specimen for her collection of hearts.

Tell me why did you let her get the best of the rest of you?

I Could Write A Book

So you could, could you?  Better hear what renowned literary agent Michael Larsen has to say about the book biz.  All of the spoken words sandwiched in this 1940 Rodgers and Hart show tune-turned-jazz standard are from Larsen’s How To Write A Book Proposal, Third Edition (Writer’s Digest Books, 2003).

Arranged by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ron Grant, Sung and Spoken Vocals: Alicia Bay Laurel, Piano: Rick Olson, Soprano Saxophone: Doug Webb, Bass: Chris Conner, Drums: Kendall Kay

If they asked me, I could write a book

About the way you walk and whisper and look.

I could write a preface on how we met

So the world would never forget.

And the simple secret of the plot

Is just to tell them that I love you a lot.

Then the world discovers as my book ends

How to make two lovers of friends.

It’s Not Fair       

I asked Nels if he would help me scream at my ex, and he said, “Sure, glad to.”

Arranged by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ron Grant, Vocal and Electric Rhythm Guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel, Electric Lead Guitar: Nels Cline, Upright Bass: John B. Williams, Drums: Enzo Tedesco

It’s not fair that you love her more than me

When she doesn’t even sing.

She’s not a musician like you are, like I am,

What about all the times we used to jam?

We had rhythm and harmony

Now we don’t even meet,

Unless she is with you, and then it’s all small talk.

How boring. It’s just not fair.

Well, it’s chemistry, and it’s poetry,

But it’s not me and it’s not fair.

How did you decide to give her first choice of your time,

And all of your lovemaking, too?

She’s not a joker like you are, like I am,

What about all the laughs that we been through?

We used to get so crazy;

Now you don’t even call,

Because she is with you, making all of that small talk.

How wasteful; it’s just not fair.

Her topography, choreography,

Made a fool of me and it’s not fair.

It’s no fun getting over you now,

With all those ideas we had.

She’s not an artist like you are, like I am

What about the masterpiece we planned? (Yeah, loser!)

You were once my inspiration;

Now I’m cookin’ alone.

And she’s still in your studio, bending your ear,

And you love it.  Yeah, you just love it.

You love it so much.

It’s just not fair.

Love, Understanding and Peace

How succinctly Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13 explains love and spirituality! Everyone can dig it.

Arranged by Alicia Bay Laurel and Ron Grant, Lead Singing Vocal: Alicia Bay Laurel, Spoken Vocal: Jody Ashworth, Second Singing Vocal on last verse: Francis Nyaforh, Choir: Jessica Williams and Irene Cathaway, Piano: Rev. Harold Pittman, Bass: Kevin O’Neal, Drums: David Anderson

Every love has its season; maybe ours has come and gone.

You are far from the doorstep that my beaux must stand on,

But I feel you in the morning when I rise to say my prayers,

All your goodness, all the childish things we shared and did not share.

We had our scenes of pain and pleasure, heaven knows, we felt it all,

But the curtains on those first acts quickly fall,

And the sets are quickly changing, as the night becomes the day.

Will we be childish in the next town that we play?

Sometimes I wonder what the tenth year of our friendship will be like.

Will we have outgrown those early childhood fears?

Will there be trust and resolution, will our vision then be clear?

We did not know each other well in this first year.

Simple passion is so deceiving; we moved in so fast we could not back out right.

So it was fight or take flight to scene one, act two;

See you in paradise when we rendezvous; I know you will not show surprise.

Love is patient and kind.

It is not jealous, boastful, envious or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way.

It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love recoils from injustice,

But rejoices when the truth prevails.

It always protects, always hopes, always endures.

Love never ends.

We are practicing forgiveness (I forgive you);

We are speaking higher truths (God is love);

We are praying for deliverance from our weakness (we shall be free).

And we both have come a little bit further along

Toward our love and understanding, toward our peace,

Toward our love and understand, toward our peace (let there be peace).

Living in Hawaii Style: Production Notes, Liner Notes and Lyrics

Alicia’s cover for her CD, Living in Hawaii Style, expresses the dazzling colors, sounds, fragrances and tastes of the Hawaiian islands, and the feelings of peace and well-being they engender.

After an eight-month self-coordinated national USA road tour in 2000, promoting the Villard/Random House 30th anniversary edition of Living on the Earth, and Alicia’s first (self-produced) CD, Music from Living on the Earth, with 75 performances of Alicia’s original one-woman two-act comedy/storytelling/original music show, Living on the Earth: The Musical, Alicia returned to Rick Asher Keefer’s Sea-West Studios in Pahoa, Hawaii, and began recording her second CD, Living in Hawaii Style.

For these tracks, a combination of historic Hawaiian songs and Alicia’s original Hawaiian-style songs, Alicia called upon two great Hawaiian musicians:

Lei’ohu Ryder: A spiritualist, composer, performer, recording artist and educator, with deep roots in Hawai’ian culture, Lei’ohu raises her superb voice in song and Hawai’ian chants, which she can compose on the spot (there’s one on this CD.) Her psychic abilities yielded the discovery of the Kukuipuka heiau (temple ruins), which she and others are restoring. She had recently performed with Alicia’s partner, avant-garde jazz musician Joe Gallivan’s ensemble at the 2000 Bell-Atlantic Jazz Festival in New York City when Alicia invited her to collaborate on this album. 

Sam Ahia: Widely respected throughout the state of Hawai’i (and elsewhere) as a great jazz guitarist/vocalist, Sam has appeared on dozens of recordings, including his own, including the all-original Ukumehame, and Sam Ahia, a collection of Hawai’ian favorites. Alicia studied guitar with Sam Ahia for two years.

The album opens with Alicia’s Hawaiian happy birthday song, Hau’oli La Hanau, the only existing recording on which Alicia plays an ukulele.  Rick Asher Keefer joined her on ukulele and Hawaiian percussion, and invited some of the children in the neighborhood to join her in singing the second verse.  This, the least sophisticated song on the album, or maybe on all of her albums, became, far and away, Alicia’s most downloaded song. 

The cover of the album began as an ink line drawing on an invitation to a beach party Alicia held on her 35th birthday, in 1984.  While working on the album, in 2001, Alicia had just begun learning Adobe PhotoShop, and used it to color the drawing for the cover art of the album.

Alicia also scanned a letter she received in 1986 from the legendary slack key guitarist, Auntie Alice Namakelua, a musician who had serenaded Hawaii’s last monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, and for whom Alicia had written a song of praise after hearing her in concert on Maui in the early 1970s.  In 1986, Alicia managed to send a cassette tape of her song to the great lady, and Auntie Alice responded graciously with a handwritten note of thanks.  This letter appears inside the front cover of the CD.

Here is a Christmas card I received from her caregiver, after Auntie Alice sent me the letter displayed in the album liner.  The deep warmth of Hawaiian family is palpable in this short missive.

For the many who only buy downloads instead of CDs, here are the complete liner notes and lyrics:

About the songs

Apologia: To those of you already rich in Hawai’ian language and lore, please excuse the vocabulary, geology, sociology and history in these notes, which I gathered for those not as fortunate as you are.

All songs are copyright (c) 2001 by Alicia Bay Laurel and published by Bay Tree Music (ASCAP), except where otherwise noted. Total running time of CD:  53:38

1.  Hau’oli La Hanau (Happy Birthday)

Music and lyrics by Alicia Bay Laurel (Key D) Time: 01:36

Lead vocal, finger-picked ukulele and rhythm guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel

Three strummed koa ukuleles, ipu (gourd drum), pu’ili (bamboo rattles): Rick Keefer

Chorus of celebrants:  Rick Keefer, Smitty Smith, Camille Thomas, Sarah Runnells, Rainbow, Moonstar

A birthday song I created for one friend and now sing for many of them.  “Hau’oli” means happy, “la” means day, and “hanau” means birth.  “Aloha nui loa”: “Nui” means big, “aloha” means love and spiritual presence, “loa” means long or forever.  “Auntie Liliko’i” is just a name with the right set of syllables to fit the song—you can put in anyone’s name you want.  Many Hawai’ians call people they love “auntie” and “uncle”, or “tita” (sister) and “brada” (brother) regardless of actual blood relationship.   A liliko’i is a passionfruit or granadilla.

Hau’oli la hanau, aloha nui loa.

Hau’oli la hanau, Auntie Liliko’i!

Lucky live Hawai’i, Hawai’i lucky, too.

Seashore to da mountain, plenny love for you!

2.  Kanikau O Hawai’i

Music and lyrics by Ginni Clemmons (self-published) (Key D) Time: 03:28

Lead vocal: Lei’ohu Ryder

Harmony vocal: Alicia Bay Laurel

Steel string and nylon string guitars: Sam Ahia

An environmental anthem written by Maui singer/songwriter Ginni Clemmons in 1988.  The first ten times I listened to it on Lei’ohu Ryder’s wonderful CD, Waiha, I wept profusely.  Profound thanks to Lei’ohu and to Ginni for sharing this song with me. “Kanikau” means “a mournful cry.”

Oh Hawai’i, you’ve lost your innocence

How can we get it back?

Have we claimed you?  Have we shamed you?

Have we spoiled the prize we’ve won?

By taking you against your will, as all greedy lovers do.

Oh Hawai’i…oh Hawai’i, we’re sorry

Those who care are crying tears of shame

But with your gentle kindness you wash our tears away

With your never-ending streams

Come reach us; come teach us your gentle simple ways

Teach us the ways of nature, so that peace can end this war

Oh Hawai’i…oh Hawai’i, we’re sorry

Those who care are crying tears of shame

But with your gentle kindness you wash our tears away

With your never-ending streams

Come reach us; come teach us your gentle simple ways

Teach us the ways of nature, so that peace can end this war

Oh Hawai’i…oh Hawai’i, we love you

Hawai’i, aloha nou, Hawai’i

3.  From Hawai’i To You

Music and lyrics by Lani Sang, Criterion Music (Key C) Time: 03:51

Vocals: Alicia Bay Laurel and Sam Ahia

Steel string and nylon string guitars: Sam Ahia

A classic from the mid-‘fifties, this graceful ballad was written by Lani Sang, of the famed Waikiki Serenaders.  I learned it from Sam Ahia when I studied guitar with him in the mid-‘eighties.  “Aloha wau ia ‘oe” means “I love you.”

I’ll weave a lei, a beautiful lei, of stars,

To greet you the Hawai’ian way,

Straight from Hawai’i to you.

I’ll take a kiss and blend it into a lei

Of fragrance so sweet and so rare,

Straight from Hawai’i to you.

Just vision, lazy days beside the sea

Underneath the coco tree;

This my love conveys to you.

So take a kiss and blend it into a lei

Of fragrance so sweet and so rare.

Aloha wau ia oe;

Straight from Hawai’i to you.

4.  Nanakuli Blues/Nanakuli/Vale of Feathers

Nanakuli Blues: Music and lyrics by Liko Martin and Thor E. Wold (American Pride Music/BMI) (Key G) Time: 04:11 (total of medley)

Nanakuli: Traditional, from the 1890’s

Vale of Feathers: Music by Liko Martin and Thor E. Wold (American Pride Music/BMI), lyrics by Alicia Bay Laurel (Bay Tree Music/ASCAP)

Lead and harmony vocals, lead and harmony guitars:  Alicia Bay Laurel

The a capella opening verse is from a hit protest song from the early 1970’s, recorded as Waimanalo Blues by the band Country Comfort. It galvanized a feeling that took shape as the Hawai’ian sovereignty movement by the centennial of the 1893 overthrow of the Hawai’ian monarchy.  The second song is an nineteenth century Hawai’ian song about Nanakuli, a seacoast town west of Honolulu. The third song consists of lyrics that I wrote soon after hearing the first two. In 1981, Liko Martin showed up at a recording session I was doing in California. I sang my lyrics for him; he insisted that I should record them, and, Liko, twenty years later, you got your wish.

Nanakuli Blues  (verse 2)

Tired and worn, I woke up this morn’,

Found that I was confused.

Spun right around and found I had lost

The things that I could not lose

The beaches they sell to build their hotels,

The old Hawai’ian families knew.

The birds all along the sunlight at dawn

Singing Nanakuli Blues.


O ka leo o ka manu

E ho’i mai e pili

Keiki o ka aina i ka pono a o Nanakuli e a

E ho’i mai e pili

The voice of the bird,
Come close.
The children of the land Nanakuli are righteous;
Come close.

Vale of Feathers 

In the vale of feathers, morning dawns

Like a lovely woman coming on.

Oh, pool of tears, wash over me;

Take my sorrows down to the sea.

‘Cause when I look back at what I lacked,

I miss the high times when they come by.

Treat the people and the islands kind;

You know it’s not about the bottom line.

In the gardens of the bountiful,

We  will wander through a meadow to a pool.

Oh, mother island, plenteous,

You feed us from your flowing breast.

‘Cause when we look back at all we lacked,

We  miss the high times when they come by.

Treat the people and the islands kind;

You know it’s not about the bottom line.

In the vale of feathers, land of song.

The cardinal, the mynah, and the dove.

Oh kona wind, please carry this song

To the ears of the ones that I love.

When you look back at what you lacked

You’ll miss the high times when they come by.

Treat the people and the islands kind;

You know it’s not about the bottom line.

5.  Waikaloa

Music and Lyrics by Alicia Bay Laurel (Key A) Time: 04:25

Vocal and slack key guitars: Alicia Bay Laurel

My first Hawai’ian music teacher, Clara Tolentino, and her husband, Joe, raised their children in a house without electricity or telephone at the end of the road in Waikaloa, and I would visit them there in the 1970’s.  Vocabulary: “Pele” is the volcano goddess. “A’a” is sharp, jagged lava.  “Laupaho’eho’e” is smooth, ropy lava. “Heiau” is an ancient Hawaiian temple, or the ruins of it.  “Ki ho’alu” is slack key, or open-tuned guitar picking. “Koa” is a tropical hardwood used for making furniture—and the best ukuleles. Bamboo is used to make pu’ili rattles. “Pahu” is a wooden drum played with hula kahiko (ancient style hula) and chanting.  “Ipu” is a gourd drum. “Pu” is a large conch shell used as a wind instrument.  “Waikaloa” literally means “fresh water that is endless.”

Waikaloa, beautiful newborn land,

From the mountains you came,

From the smoke and the flame,

From a wave of Pele’s hand.

Waikaloa, rainforest by the sea,

With your lava rock walls,

And your trees green and tall,

Here the ancient ones live on in dreams.

I’m walking slow in Waikaloa

Come play some music with my friends,

Over a’a and laupaho’eho’e,

An old steel string guitar held in my hands.

Waikaloa, north shore of Hana Bay,

Where the heiau once stood,

Where the fishing’s still good,

Where the old ki ho’alu still plays.

We sang all night in Waikaloa;

The sun rose from the sea when we were through.

Our sounds of bamboo and of koa,

The pahu, the ipu and the pu.

Waikaloa, mystery is your song.

You’re the wrinkle in time

Where the past and present rhyme;

You’re the waters that flow ever long.

6.  Ukulele Hula

Music and lyrics by Alicia Bay Laurel (Key G)  Time: 04:15

Lead and harmony vocals, slack key guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel

Ukuleles: Rick Keefer

On my first night in Hana, in the spring of 1974, I was camping in the jungle behind a friend’s house, and, next door, a wedding reception was in full swing.  In true Hana style, the celebrants took turns making music, performing hula and telling funny stories until dawn, while I was falling asleep and awakening, absorbing it all.  In the morning, this song rolled out of my head.

I’m dreaming to the sound of ukuleles

Playing all night long for a wedding of our family.

In paradise, everybody is lover,

And the more you let go, the more that comes back to you.

So, surrender to the beautiful island,

And she’ll give you everything that you need.

Feasting on a sun-ripened papaya,

Playing all day in the waves along the sand,

Breezy afternoon and a sunset on the ocean,

Sailing away on a song of Bali Hai.

Let me make you feel good; that’s what we’re here for:

For ecstasy, delight and bliss.

It’s so balmy, such a balmy evening,

To melt in love in a tropical paradise.

Let’s swing and sway to the sound of ukuleles

Like the gentle green fronds of the lovely coconut tree.

Surrender to the beautiful island

And she’ll give you everything that you need.

I’m dreaming to the sound of ukuleles

Playing all night long for a wedding of our family.

In paradise everybody is a lover,

And the more you let go, the more that comes back to you.

7.   Holua, Kapalaoa and Paliku

Music and lyrics by Matthew Kalalau (self-published) (Key F) Time: 03:22

Opening chant composed and performed by Lei’ohu Ryder (she accompanies herself with ti leaf rattles)

Lead and harmony vocals, melody slack key guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel

Harmony guitar: Sam Ahia

Written by Clara Kalalau Tolentino’s brother, Matthew Kalalau, about the three camping sites in the volcanic valley surrounded by the summit of Haleakala (“house of the sun”).   Clara taught me the song in 1976, when we spent three days hiking in Haleakala.  She choreographed this song, and sang it in her heavenly voice with ukulele, soon after our trek, at a fundraiser for the Hui Aloha Church, with five of her young female relatives dancing, each wearing a maile lei made from maile we had picked on our way down the Kaupo Gap from the mountain, and each in a holoku (Victorian gown) of a different color, one of which I sewed.  

Lei’ohu’s Opening Chant:

Eia la wahipana la
E ola e ola e ola la
Eia papa hele mu
E ala e ola e ola Haleakala

Lei’ohu’s translation of her chant:

Here it is sacred–
Life, life, life…
Moving forward with the people
To awaken life, Haleakala.

Uncle Matthew’s song:

I ke ia makou ka nani a o Holua

Amena pali ki’e ki’e a o Hale Mau’u

I ke ia makou a o Kapalaoa

Amena pu’u kaulana a o Pu’u Maile

I ke ia makou ka nani a o Paliku

Amena pali ha uli uli; he nani po ina ‘ole

E o nei makou mele ka nani a o Holua

Kapalaoa amena Paliku


We came and saw the beauty of Holua (“wooden sled”– used on cinder hills)

With its misty cliffs of Hale Mau’u (name of the trail, literally: “grass house”)

We came and saw Kapalaoa (“the whale tooth”)

With its famous cinder cone, Pu’u Maile

(“Pu’u” means hill, “maile” is a fragrant vine used to make an open-ended leaf lei)

We came and saw the beauty of Paliku (“vertical cliff”)

With its verdant cliffs, its beauty can never be forgotten

This, now, is our song about the beauty of Holua,

Kapalaoa and Paliku.

8.  Sassy/Manuela Boy/Livin’ On Easy

Slack key guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel (Key G) Time: 03:15

Three drinking songs, each about one hundred years old.   Sassy was written by Kokolia, circa 1890, and describes the “saucy” girls (hookers) sashaying about Honolulu.  Manuela Boy was a hit for the singer Hilo Hattie in the 1930’s.  Livin’ On Easy inspired hundreds of humorous verses over its long history as the quintessential party song.  Even Clara Tolentino sang me a verse she made up.

9.  Moonlight and Shadows/Blue Lei

Music and Lyrics: Moonlight and Shadows by Leo Robin and Friedrich Hollaender, Paramount Music/ASCAP; Blue Lei by R. Alex Anderson and Milton Beamer, Universal Polygram/ASCAP. (Keys Bb and C) total time: 04:04

Vocals: Alicia Bay Laurel and Sam Ahia

Steel string and nylon string guitars: Sam Ahia

This medley is another of my favorites from Sam’s repertoire which I learned in the course of studying guitar with him. This genre of swing tunes with tropical lyrics is known in the islands as “hapa ha’ole”, meaning half-foreign.

 Moonlight and shadows and you in my arms,

And a melody in a bamboo tree, my sweet.

Even in shadows, I feel no alarm

As you held me tight in the pale moonlight, my sweet.

Close to my heart you always will be,

Never, never to part from me.

Moonlight and shadows and you in my arms,

I belong to you; you belong to me, my sweet.

You were wearing a blue lei

The day that I first met you,

As we walked along the sand

By the blue, blue sea.

Without a cloud in the sky to caress us,

Not a tear have you or I to suppress us.

I will always remember

The moment when I kissed you,

And the smile upon your lips was so heavenly sweet.

When your blue eyes looked in to mine,

It was then the sun began to shine,

That day in May you wore a blue, blue lei.

10.  Kawailehua‘a‘alakahonua

Music and lyrics by Frank K. Hewett, Mountain Apple Music (Key G) Time: 03:04

Slack key guitars, lead and higher harmony vocal: Alicia Bay Laurel

Lower harmony vocal: Lei’ohu Ryder

Composed by the great kumu hula (teacher, choreographer) and Hawai’ian cultural healer, Frank Kawaikapuokalani (“the sacred waters of heaven”) K. Hewett.  The title means “the lehua waters that give fragrance to the earth”, and it is the name he gave to his niece, in whose honor the song was composed. Below is his own translation of the lyrics:

Ke iho la ka ua

Halihali na lehua o luna

Helele‘i pua i ke kai

Hula le‘a na lehua i ka moana

He kupa la ka ua i ke kai

Ke ho’i hou e aloha mai

He mele nou e ku‘u lani


The rains are falling

Like red lehua blossoms falling from the sky.

Strewn over the surface of the sea,

They dance playfully amid the waters.

The waters of the sky are well acquainted to the waters of the ocean.

It returns from the sky once more and their relationship is imbued with love.

A song for you, my heavenly one,


11.  Auntie Clara

Music and lyrics by Alicia Bay Laurel (Key G) Time: 03:36

Lead and harmony vocals, melody slack key guitar:  Alicia Bay Laurel

Harmony guitar: Sam Ahia

 I wrote this song in 1975, when I was living in Hana, Maui, to honor Clara Keanu Kalalau Tolentino, the town kumu hula (choreographer and teacher of the local hula halau [dance troupe], plus fountain of Hawai’ian arts and culture to the community) and matriarch of a musical dynasty that includes recording artists G-girl Keli’iho’omalu (her oldest daughter, Philomena) and Princess Keli’iho’omalu (G-girl’s daughter).  “Clara won every hula contest she entered,” remembered her sister-in-law, Mary Kalalau, “The famous kumu hula Emma Sharpe said that Clara’s choreography was divinely inspired.”   Clara taught me to sing in Hawai’ian, and introduced me to her son-in-law, Jerome Smith, who taught me to play ki ho’alu (open-tuned guitar, Hawai’ian style).  This song was an instant hit, winning me first place at the talent show of the 1975 Ho’olaulea o Hana (the annual community festival, also known as Aloha Week), a spirited event held at Hana Bay Beach Park after sunset. 

On Aloha Week in old Hana town,

I saw her ride by in a satin gown:

A goddess of flowers, a Hawai’ian queen

That everyone calls Auntie Clara.

Descended from a line of ancient kings,

She plays ukulele and dances and sings,

And what makes her happy is to hear people laugh,

Which is easy around Auntie Clara.

She lives by the sea with the man that she loves,

And they raised eleven sisters and brothers.

And now their grandchildren number forty-two;

And soon, I bet, there will be others.

And she’s taught them all to sing and to dance,

To work real hard and to love romance,

Just by the way that she spends her days,

Being happy being Auntie Clara.

She’s delivered babies and planted trees,

And walked through volcanoes; she smiles with ease.

To me, she’s the essence of old Hana town,

Besides being dear Auntie Clara.

God bless you, my dear Auntie Clara!

12.  Living In Hawai’i Style

Music and lyrics by Alicia Bay Laurel (Key A) Time: 02:43

Lead and harmony vocals, slack key guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel

“Awapuhi” means fragrant ginger (the w is pronounced v). “Ulu” means breadfruit, in this case, the great breadfruit trees of the rainforest, although it can also mean “growth”. “Kukui” is the silvery-leafed candlenut tree. “O’o” is an indigenous and endangered species of songbird. “Hula ‘auwana” (literally hula that meanders, like a stream) is the more modern form of hula, performed to melodic songs. It is the only ethnic dance in which the dancers must smile.  “’Olapa” is the ancient form of hula, serious, sacred and vigorous, performed with chanting, drums and other percussion instruments.  “Aloha” is usually translated as “love”, “hello” or “goodbye”, but literally means “the Presence (of the holy spirit) (alo) is the breath (ha).”  “Wahine” (vah-hee-nay) means “woman”, and “kanaka” means “man.”

Moving slow, laughing long, smiling the aloha smile,

Everybody loves living in Hawai’i style la la.

Down to the sea as the day is dawning,

Lavender and golden is the morning.

Snorkeling along the coral reef

Is beautiful beyond belief, oh la la.

Fragrance of the roadside awapuhi

Underneath the ulu and kukui,

Mountain apple booms; the o’o calls;

I’m swimming under waterfalls, oh la la.

The spirit of the land is the ancient chants,

The taro growing farms and the fishing camps,

Sweet hula ‘auwana, bold ‘olapa,

Aloha of wahine and kanaka.

Moving slow, laughing long, smiling the aloha smile,

Everybody loves living in Hawai’i style la la.

13.  Maui Chimes

Slack key guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel (Key G) Time: 01:57

Written by Sam Kapu in 1899, this was the first slack key piece taught to me by Clara Tolentino’s son-in-law, Jerome Smith.

14.  Kaupo

Music, lyrics and poetry by Alicia Bay Laurel (Key F) Time: 03:37

Sung and spoken vocal, slack key guitars: Alicia Bay Laurel

Kaupo literally means “arrive by night”, perhaps alluding to its remote location on the coast of the fierce Alenuihaha Channel.  “Alelelele” is the name of a stream that descends from the mountain in a series of waterfall pools, each in a box canyon.  Maunawainui: “Mauna” means mountain, “wai” means fresh water, “nui” means great.  “Nuu” means height, perhaps referring to the steep ascent to Haleakala’s summit from this coastline. “Hui” means union or gathering.

Kaupo, Kaupo, where the wild winds blow,

The shadow of your evening thrills me now.

Kaupo, the moon upon your brow

Rides high upon the desert mountain skies.

The spirits of the warrior kings

Alight upon the seashores of Kaupo.

Arrive by night, awaken to the sight

Of light caressing hillsides of Kaupo.

Oh lonely Lualailua Hills

Knowing only the sea, the sky and the mountain!

Oh mighty Maunawainui Canyon

Gathering the storm waters and flooding deeply!

Oh majestic cliffs of the Kaupo Valley

Ascending to sacred Mount Haleakala!

Oh ruthless Alenuihaha Channel!

Oh sea of engulfing waves!

Oh growling black stones of Nuu

Ever turning in the tide!

Oh waterfall upon waterfall

Singing Alelelele!

Oh Hui Aloha Church alone beside the sea

Where, in the wild winds, we gather in love!

Oh millions of stars by night!

Oh snow-capped Mauna Kea by day!

Kaupo, Kaupo, where the wild winds blow,

The shadow of your evening thrills me now.

Kaupo, the moon upon your brow

Rides high upon the desert mountain skies.

15.   Auntie Alice

Music and Lyrics by Alicia Bay Laurel (Key G) Time: 02:24

Vocal and slack key guitars: Alicia Bay Laurel

 In 1975, I attended a slack key festival in Lahaina, Maui, where Alice Namakelua, court musician to Queen Lili’uokalani during her years of house arrest at Iolani Palace after the 1893 overthrow of the monarchy, performed in her own tuning.  I was totally enchanted. That night I learned her tuning and composed this piece, what Hawai’ians call a mele inoa, a song honoring a person’s name. 

In 1986, I had a job playing music on one of two horse-drawn wagons at an agricultural theme park on Maui.  The musician on the other wagon was a young Hawai’ian named Kawika who played wonderful slack key guitar. I asked him to teach me something new.  He began by demonstrating wahine tuning, and I said, “Oh, that’s Auntie Alice Namakelua’s tuning!”  He told me that his girlfriend’s aunt was Auntie Alice’s nurse.  I asked if he would send a cassette to his girlfriend’s aunt, and he agreed.  I rushed home, recorded this song, and, sure enough, received a note of appreciation from the great lady herself, only months before she passed into the spirit realm. Her letter is reproduced in these liner notes.

Vocabulary: “Wahine (vah-hee-nay) tuning” means a woman’s tuning, in this case, Auntie Alice’s tuning.  “Holoku” (literally “walk straight”) is a Victorian style gown.  “Colors of the isle” refers to the traditional colors associated with each island.  On this night, she wore a pink holuku to honor the island of Maui.  “Iolani (ee-oh-lah-nee) Palace” was the seat of the Hawai’ian monarchy, which still stands in Honolulu.  “Aloha ke akua” means “God is love.”

I heard Auntie Alice play

Slack key guitar tuned this way

(It’s called wahine tuning)

To her gentle crooning.

Her holoku was glistening;

Everyone was listening.

She wore the colors of the isle,

Made the people smile.

She was only seventeen

Playing guitar for the Queen.

Pretty Auntie Alice

At Iolani Palace.

She hears the songs the spirits sing,

Sees the light in everything,

Alice Namakelua;

Aloha ke akua.

16.  Kipahulu  

Music and lyrics by Alicia Bay Laurel (Key F) Time: 03:10

Vocal and slack key guitar: Alicia Bay Laurel

Harmony guitar: Sam Ahia

The Kipahulu valley lies southeast of Hana town, on Maui.  I lived there and composed this song in 1976. 

Haleakala (“House of the Sun”) is the 10,000-foot volcano that comprises eastern Maui.  Mauna Kea (“White Mountain”) is the 14,000-foot volcano that comprises most of northern Hawaii island.  Kaupo Gap is the amphitheater-headed valley that comprises the eastern half of Haleakala’s “crater”, opening southward to the seacoast at Kaupo.  The original caldera and summit of the volcano eroded away long ago, but two enormous amphitheater-headed valleys—the other is the Ko’olau Gap, opening to the north side of the island—were united by volcanic eruptions that decimated the wall between them, creating cinder cones and other formations within the summit walls, and the illusion of a caldera.

If you want to call on me, this is where I stay:

In a meadow, by a mango, Mau’ulili Bay.

Life is simple in the shadow of Haleakala;

Moon and raindrops for my crystal candelabra.

Let your feet dance down the boulders to the rushing stream,

Floating chilly, willy-nilly, to ancestral dreams.

Hear the spirits of the valley sing in soft guitars;

Mark the passage through the heavens: wind and cloud and stars.

Hear the cattle call as the evening falls.

Bamboo canyon walls, silver waterfalls,

Birds of ancient lineage, brilliant in their plumage,

Hidden by the foliage down from Paliku.

If you come to call on me, this is how I live:

Contemplating God’s creation, learning how to give.

Kipahulu Valley people work the livelong day;

Then you’ll see us in the evening, coming out to play.

Sudden rain may slice the sunlight, disappearing down.

Floating on the sea’s horizon, Mauna Kea’s crown.

Kaupo Gap, oh gate of heaven, clouds advance, retreat.

Verdant pasture, sleepy rapture, sky and mountain meet.

Hear the cattle call as the evening falls.

Bamboo canyon walls, silver waterfalls,

Birds of ancient lineage, brilliant in their plumage,

Hidden by the foliage down from Paliku.

Living on the Earth: The Musical (live stage performance) – history and audience response

Telling the stories at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice Beach, California, November 5, 2016

The print material in my garment is white organic cotton printed with pages of the book Living on the Earth with natural indigo dye.

This fabric and ensemble were designed and produced by Kaoriko Ago Wada for her organic fiber, fair trade fashion company, Little Eagle.

Living on the Earth: The Musical, is an original one-woman, two-act show of quirky, edgy stories about the birth and aftermath of the book, Living on the Earth, plus some of the songs I wrote during these times.

During the year 2000, I performed the show 75 times during a twice-cross-country road tour plus five shows in Hawaii. I performed the show occasionally in succeeding years as well, including three shows in California and Arizona in 2016.

No two shows have been entirely identical, since I chose which of the stories to tell while on stage and interacting with the audience. And, as I accrued additional life experiences, I added a few new stories to the end.

Poster for a performance in Kea’au, Hawaii in 2002

Following are comments from audience members, emailed to me after seeing the show:

“Great performance by our legendary friend Alicia this afternoon in Venice, California. It was amazing!”
Pauline Adamek, Theatre Critic, Los Angeles, California

“Alicia Bay Laurel is a wealth of storytelling! What an amazing trip she’s taking us on….”
Gwendolyn Sanford, Film Composer and Singer/Songwriter, Los Angeles, California

“My Beautiful Alicia, Thank you for a fabulous evening! We all loved it and you are Beyond Brilliant…your show was so much fun and filled with so much love, it was a happening and wonderful to behold.”
Brenda Lowy, Legal Secretary and my beloved cousin, who brought her entire household to the show
Los Angeles, California

“I am so glad that I went to hear Alicia Bay Laurel’s show tonight. The songs were great, but the story telling was amazing. She shared the life journey that led to her writing Living on the Earth and beyond. It was a fascinating history lesson and a peek at what my parents were doing just before I was born.”
Amanda Timbermoon, teacher, mother and community leader
Occidental, California

“I was so glad to be there and hear Alicia perform. No wonder the Japanese are such fans!”
Erin Sheffield, co-curator of the open land commune exhibition, “The Hippies,” presented by the Sonoma County Historical Society at the West County Museum
Sebastopol, California

“It was such a special, intimate event! An honor to be there, especially as it is the last of the kind! Alicia, your guitar playing, storytelling, songwriting and singing are authentic,uplifting, humorous,and enchanting. For me, it was a real validation of my/our/ the counter-cultural collective/ choices, experiences, and commitment to natural living, in the many forms that takes. And to see the on-going creativity, insights, and awareness you embody is very inspiring! Within minutes I was drawing again! Thank you!”
Andrea McShane Radoccia, bed and breakfast owner and natural gardener
Clarkdale, Arizona

“Dearest Alicia your musical words moved me beyond measure. I had tears in my eyes while listening to some of the lovely lyrics that you wrote. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt heartstrings last evening, it was positively divine!”
Mardy Bee, antique collector and scholar
Prescott, Arizona

“I am so grateful for being able to attend an intimate home concert with beautiful music created by Alicia Bay Laurel. Her music has different sounding elements, from hippie folk style to Hawaiian to bluesy sounding magic. I love her hippie stuff – Oh Sweet Self and Mandala are two of my favorite songs. I am smiling and spinning around my home this morning getting all my chores done. Feeling so blessed.”
Jennifer Price, Artist
Sedona, Arizona

“Alicia, we loved your concert! You should write a memoir! Seriously! Thank you for coming to Sedona and sharing your clear presence with us– come back soon! My daughters will love their t-shirts and cds, as will my husband and I. We remember those ‘Paisley Days’!”
Elizabeth Oakes, Writer and Professor Emeritus of Literature
Sedona, Arizona

Ramón Sender Barayón and Alicia Bay Laurel after singing Ramón’s sunset chant.

November 13, 2016 at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa, California.

Similar, but different, performance costume, also designed and produced by Kaoriko Ago Wada.

In 2021, I collaborated with Spanish filmmaker Luis Olano on the movie version of “Living on the Earth: The Musical,” which he filmed on November 13, 2016 while gathering footage for Sender Barayón – Viaje Hace la Luz, a documentary about the life and work of Ramón Sender Barayón, who made a guest appearance in the show.