Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ukulele Lady

I would probably have to say that I have an ambivalent relationship with the ukulele but recently I have come to love it. I used to think it was a silly little instrument with only four strings that sounds like a creature from the planet Treblelina.  On the other hand, sales of ukuleles during the craze for the instrument during  the  1920's probably enabled the Martin guitar company to survive. If the company had gone under, there would have been no D-28 or D-18 dreadnaught models, the ne plus ultras of guitars as far as I am concerned. The ukulele can be masterfully played by the likes of Jake Shimabukuro (check out his version of "Stars and Stripes Forever" on You Tube) and Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole, a Hawaiian musician whose ukulele accompanied version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" was used in numerous commercials and television shows as well as becoming a hit in its own right. The first time I heard it was during an episode of E.R. when the song is played during the death of Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards). I was ruined by that song and still am.


Our younger daughter Alyssa, the H.R. wizard, took up the ukulele recently.  She had tried guitar and found as many new players do that the strings hurt her fingers and the stretches to form the chords were too much for her small hands.  So she got a ukulele and began learning to play it. She reported last week she knew three chords and seven songs. With my father in the hospital this past week, she visited him Sunday with her ukulele and played "On Top of Spaghetti" and "You Are My Sunshine."  I'm glad I wasn't there or I would have been ruined again.  Ukuleles can do that to you, those "silly" little instruments.

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