A version of this post has sat dormant in this computer (actually in its Toshiba predecessor) for seven years. That may be a single record for this writer's patience. And so this story began eight years ago. For all of those years, readers of this website and of our books, and audiences at our speaking engagements across the American continent have discovered that my husband, 'Iokepa Hanalei 'Imaikalani has somesurprising gifts. We know him to be an inspiring spokesperson for his culture, a crystal-shattering chanter of the ancient Native Hawaiian words, and a serious wielder of a 20-inch chain saw. There is very little that he cannot figure out a way to fix. I assumed that I pretty-much knew the parameters of my husband's talents.
His gifts are not mine. On our best days, we don't compete for the prize, we complement each others abilities - lend support for the other.
But all of this is just a prelude to what's been sitting dormant in this computer for almost eight years.
The Background Story
Very early in our courtship, almost eighteen years ago now, 'Iokepa was given to tellingme a few very silly, rather adolescent, old jokes. One featured aswaggering cowboy by the name of, "Two Guns Rodriguez." From that humble origin, this story begins.
Over these many years, 'Iokepa took to occasionally calling me, "Two Guns." He meant it as a testimony, he said, to my strength, my courage, my "chutzpah."
Seven years ago now, at home on Kaua'i, in that generic big-box store that is K-Mart, 'Iokepa encountered our good friend, Arthur Walton. Arthur, by way of introduction, is a remarkably talented guitarist, composer, musician. He sometimes collaborates with blues vocalist, Bobby Thursby. Their CDs include the powerful, "Grease In My Gravy."
Arthur asked 'Iokepa where I was. 'Iokepa saw me at a K Mart distance; he called out, "Two Guns!"
Arthur reacted. "What did you just call her?!"
When, my husband answered, "Two Guns," our talented friend blurted, "That is a song!" And he was moved, he said, to write it.
Well, as these things happen, a full year passed. We traveled away from the Islands for nine months and 26,000 car miles on the first Return Voyage tour, and then we returned.
When we returned, we asked Arthur, "Have youwritten, "Two Guns?" He had not. We pulled out the picture that we'd snapped on our first Return Voyage tour: Me striking a pose under a huge green freeway sign pointing to the town of--you guessed it!--"Two Guns," Arizona
Arthur asked for a copy of the photo--for inspiration.
Months passed. We were at the local post office, about to leave for the second Return Voyage, U.S. tour. Arthur saw us, bolted from his car, and headed with clear intention right at us.
"I've done it! I've written 'Two Guns'--and it's good!"
We drove to his studio. We listened. The music was incredible. It spoke perfectly to that cowboy moment--in R&B rhythm, no less.
We left the studio, and Arthur shouted out to 'Iokepa: "You'll have to help me with the lyrics. I don't know what you mean when you call Inette, 'Two Guns'."
'Iokepa is no lyricist. He doesn't even think of himself as a writer. But from behind the wheel, on the road to Borders, 'Iokepa demanded of me: "Get a pad and a pen; write this down." He dictated perhaps six or seven lines--lines that in that moment captured the essence of the woman--the women--who are "Two Guns."
I wrote his words on asmall scrap of paper. We turned around and headed back to Arthur's. I slipped that scrap into the keyhole of our friend's studio. We left Kaua'i. I gave the matter no more thought.
A month later, in the shadow of 'Iokepa's mother's funeral, we received this email:
"So sorry to hear about your Mom. There are no words for moments like these that truly explain the feeling of loss. All I can offer is my friendship and a shoulder to cry on. Thanks for letting me know.
P.SSending along the latest version of'Two Guns'. The CD is coming along great! Bobby called as I was writing you and sends his condolences."
Arthur is a very busy musician - and a perfectionist. "Two Guns" grabbed his attention at intervals over these many years, and periodically he'd sent us a new version "that still need some tweaking."
Now, finally, Arthur is releasingthe song as a single from on his very eclectic jazz/R&B CD, "Street Signs," - and it features every intact syllable of'Iokepa's scribbled lyric--and a few added lines of Bobby's. But the artistry, the music, the instrumentation and the use of those lyrics are pure Arthur and Bobby.
In sum, 'Iokepa and Iare both completely blown away.
Yeah... yeah... it is unbelievably exciting (and flattering) to have this incredible piece of music inspired by me. A husband's tribute for sure. And yeah...yeah... it is totally astounding to hear 'Iokepa's words, in Bobby's voice, to Arthur's music. But it is more. "Two Guns" is an empowering, stand-up-and-dance, R&B musical tribute to strong women everywhere.
It is a resilient man's tribute to the non-threatening possibilities within women who claim their own. I am proud of'Iokepa. I am excited by Arthur's talent. I am delighted to spread the word.
Buy this CD. Sing and dance to this song. And celebrate the "Two Guns" in every one of us! I feel sure that you will find it well worth the wait.