Recently I arranged Beautiful Dreamer, a song that is over 150 years old, for ukulele. Stephen Foster wrote it – the sheet music was published posthumously and sold as the last song he ever wrote. But I don’t have anything else to say about that right now, because:
What is the deal with the mockery of justice that is the acquittal of Breonna Taylor’s murderers? Okay, I know, it’s our deeply racist system. Let’s change it, alright? White people: we have to educate ourselves and unlearn racism. We have to convince enough white people to change the racist structures that are continuously killing people of color with impunity. We have to vote. We have to change the laws. We have to change our social systems. We have to make sure that poor people are supported, that everyone has access to health care, that people have dignity and respect and are safe to sleep in their beds at night. We have to treat people of color as humans whose lives matter. And one more thing, we have to stop sterilizing women of color.
The Magic Ukulele Waltz by Roy Smeck, the wizard of the strings! This song was written in the 30s, I think, although my internet searches are coming up a bit muddled at the moment and I can’t be quite sure so don’t quote me on it 😉 I’ve had this one in my repertoire for a few years and thought now would be a good time to share it. It has been polished up well enough. I learned originally from Ukulelezaza’s version and then added some Andy Eastwood vibes to it later on when I stumbled across his excellent version on youtube. Cheers and thanks for sharing the ukulele love, internet friends!
A song by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley. I learned this because Nellie McKay played it on her 1960s cover songs album. When I do these videos I want there to be something extra special about them and usually for me that means learning a new technique or a new chord melody arrangement on the ukulele. So here we have a fun chord melody bit I arranged for this tune. So fun! I love playing the ukulele and lately it has been even more satisfying, with all the space the ongoing never ending slog of a lockdown has given me to really dig in and practice more. Learning the chord inversions up the neck in-depth has really taken things to a new level of ease and comfort for my ukulele playing. I highly recommend it.
For those of you who learn well through observation, here is a tutorial of a sort. More of a playthrough, actually. A few years back I scoured the web for every ukulele version of blackbird I could find and developed this arrangement using my favorite bits from each. FWIW I think this song is a more of a challenge on ukulele than it is on guitar, but just take a close look at my fingers, you’ll be playing this one in no time I am sure.
I shared my cover of this (complete with vocal part) a couple months ago (you can find it in the feed) but thought some uke players might like to see the uke part up close and personal. Feel free to sing along. This one is in the key of C. Paul McCartney does it in G.
This is a song that appears on the beautiful (if I do say so myself) album I made with Meredith Wilder called “There Will Come Soft Rains.” It’s an album of Sara Teasdale poems we made into songs and I am pretty sure it is the one thing among all things I am proudest to have made. This project started in 2015 when Christy, Stef, Peri, Meredith, and I meant to head up to a Taos earthship for a weekend songwriting retreat of fun. The road up to Taos had been snowed out by the time we got to Santa Fe so instead we stayed in a luxurious Santa Fe vacation rental for the weekend and that’s when we decided we should sing songs that were 100 years old. Because of some savvy and/or fortuitous internet searches I came across Sara Teasdale’s poetry which I had never read before! We sat in a circle in one of the bedrooms and each sang one note as we passed around the handwritten paper upon which I had jotted down the poem. And that’s how we co-wrote this song! Weird method perhaps but it worked for us. Haha! Unfortunately I later realized I had failed to write down the FINAL VERSE of the poem so my lovely friends who I miss so much if you are listening to this wondering what the heck those extra lyrics are, mea culpa.
FWIW we did make it up to the Taos earthship a few months later and it was so fun. And we wrote more Sara Teasdale songs (or at least I did) and I can’t imagine my musical life without Sara Teasdale’s poetry in it.
This is a song where I started exploring composing for the music box. That is the way it appears on Beautiful William’s album, “There Will Come Soft Rains” (available on a streaming service near you). See the music box—and my beautiful friend Meredith Wilder—in action here.
But said music box is having some troubles so I wrote this accompaniment for ukulele to share with you today <3
This is a song I wrote four years ago what felt like a revelation. When will I feel like writing again? Hm… I am very excited about this album of originals (many of them featured here) that is in production right now. “In production” means that early in the pandemic I visited my folks and finished up recording a bunch of my tunes that we had started working on last September—almost a year ago!—and my dad continues to work tirelessly on the recordings. Thanks, Dad! Eventually I will be able to share highly produced, polished versions of the songs but for right now please enjoy this live take, just me and I. 🙂