The title refers to Hana, a torn on the Hawaiian island of Maui. It is also a play on the 1924 ragtime tune ‘Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp Of Savannah)’.
‘Soft-Hearted Hana’ was started in Los Angeles after meeting with the staff producers in Warner Bros. Records. Ted Templeman had said he liked ‘Deep Blue’ and so that night I wrote the melody which is now ‘Soft-Hearted Hana’. The chord changes are in the mood of ‘Deep Blue’ although this is more ‘up’. ‘Deep Blue’ was ‘down’.
I tried to write the lyrics for some time, but they wouldn’t come easily. In the end I wrote words which are a bit crazy. They relate to Hana on the Island of Maui, Hawaii, where | had some ‘magic mushrooms’ and the words are about that.
The lyrics were written around February 1978.
I Me Mine
Harrison’s handwritten lyrics of ‘Soft-Hearted Hana’ were reproduced in his 1980 book I Me Mine. They included the subtitle ‘Son of Deep Blue’.
I went to Warners in Burbank and spoke to the three staff producers there – Ted Templeman, Lenny Waronker and Russ Titelman. And I played them some demos of the tunes I’d written and said, ‘Come on, you guys, give me a clue. Tell me what songs you’ve liked in the past, what songs you didn’t like; give me a few ideas of what you think.’ And they didn’t know what to say. Templeman said he had liked ‘Deep Blue’, the B side of the ‘Bangla Desh’ single, which is a bit obscure – so I went home and wrote a song with a similar sort of chord structure to that, ‘Soft-Hearted Hana’.
Rolling Stone, 19 April 1979
‘Soft-Hearted Hana’ was the b-side of the ‘Blow Away’ single, released in the USA on 16 February 1979. It was also the b-side of the UK single ‘Love Comes To Everyone’, which was released on 20 April.
Harrison dedicated ‘Soft-Hearted Hana’ to Bob Longhi in the George Harrison album credits. The owner of Longhi’s restaurant on Maui had joined Harrison on the magic mushroom trip that inspired the song.
George loved the tropics and was always happiest there. He was inspired and wrote several songs during those days – ‘Dark Sweet Lady’, ‘Soft-Hearted Hana’ and ‘Here Comes The Moon’, the lyrics of which are dated 25/2, his birthday. The local general store stocked guava jam, bamboo fishing poles and machetes, but was short of gifts for the man who has everything, so I bought George lots of pens and paper to encourage the writing and, as I read the lyrics from that period, I’m glad I did. We swam in black lave rock ponds with names like Venus Pool and a tiny cottage on a bay became our luxury home for those days – the greatest luxury being the absence of a telephone and freedom from the usual demands on George’s time. The locals bestowed upon us not only privacy and Aloha spirit, but also tropical flowers we had never seen before; shell, torch and kahili gingers mixed with fragrant plumeria leis. We couldn’t wait to return and plant our own tropical garden. Over the years, Derek [Taylor] and Brian [Roylance] became guest gardeners, leaving a lush legacy of their visits with us.
I Me Mine, 2002 edition