Sunday, September 01, 2013


Long weekend this week, with Labor Day tomorrow.  Unfortunately it means I'll have mandatory overtime next Saturday, but at least it should be a not-so-bad route by that time.

I think I mentioned that I had re-strung my ukulele.  It's working well, except the C string goes out of tune faster than the others.  I'm not sure if it's still stretching, or if it's slipping.  I'm not sure that I tied it off well enough, so I might re-string that one soon just to be sure.

I performed my first "gig" last July at our family reunion.  I discovered that one of my relatives also plays ukulele and we had a discussion about them.  Some of the songs I pick out are because I'm pretty sure that people at the reunion will know them, and possibly enjoy them if I don't screw up too badly; some other songs because I have an idea that they might not know them but would like them if they heard them.  I was gratified to hear some people singing along with a few songs, and I even got some applause for my performance of "Dark as a Dungeon."  I just played and sang for over an hour while everyone else was sitting around talking and playing dominoes or cards.  It was fun, but by the time I was finished, I was pretty tired.

So here's a list of more songs that I've printed out and added to what I call my "fake book."  My fake book doesn't have a melody line in it like a real fake book (a real fake book?); I just go on the melody by memory.

Jim Byrnes - Just a Pilgrim:  I'm still working on this one a lot.  It has a bridge that uses a couple of chords that are still pretty difficult for me to play.

House of the Rising Sun:  I gotta be honest, I don't feel at all confident with this one.  But I played it at the reunion and people were singing along with it.

Alex Woodward - Reno:  I added this one even though I can't really do it right because it's a male/female duet.  Maybe someday I can find someone to sing it with me.

Daydream Believer:  Another song that people were singing along with.

Bread - Yours for Life:  This popped up on my phone one day while I was working, and I thought, hey, I bet I can play this.  This song finally got me to wrap my head around playing a syncopated rhythm, with the down strokes on 2 and 4 instead of 1 and 3.  I had a lot of trouble with it at first, but of course the more I practiced it the better I got.  I'm playing several songs with that kind of strum now.

The Gray Havens - Silver:  This was part of a free download a while back.  When I heard it on my phone and started singing along with it, I knew I had to try it.  I think I actually do it fairly well for such an amateur.  It's in a very brisk 3/4 time, and it's another one of those ubiquitous I-V-vi-IV songs.  They actually have the chords for this song on their official website, but they're wrong.  As I joked on FB, they must've had some unpaid intern do it.

4 Non Blondes - Spaceman:  This is one of my two favorite songs from the only album that group ever recorded, and I know better than to ever try the other one.  I think I do this one pretty well, considering.  It has one weird chord in it that I am still not sure about, and I think it may be one of those extended chords that you can't really play with only 4 strings.  But I figured out a substitute that I think works okay.

Steve Young - Seven Bridges Road:  I do this one in a slow 3/4, more like the original Steve Young version and not like the fast 4/4 version by the Eagles.  I just printed out the lyrics for this one; I didn't bother to worry about the chords.  I already know it too well.

Puff the Magic Dragon:  Another one that I didn't print the chords for, just the lyrics.  I found the chords on some website and just looking at them and playing it my head, I knew they were wrong.  This was my first ever favorite song when I was a kid.  I had the single of it by Peter, Paul & Mary that I listened to over and over until one day it was tragically melted when I left it outside in the car.

Johnny Cash - I Still Miss Someone:  I had been wanting to add something by Johnny Cash, but was hesitant to do it because everything he did is still so iconic.  But I think I do this one okay.

Shriekback - Cradle Song:  A weird one.  The only Shriekback song that I would ever even attempt to play on the ukulele.  I've been trying to practice this one finger picking instead of just strumming, but it's going to take a lot of practice for me to get it.

Carly Ritter - Save Your Love:  I recently heard this one when I streamed her debut album.  It was written by a country songwriter named Jerry Lynn Williams, if I recall correctly, and has been recorded by others--I found one version by Bonnie Tyler on YouTube which I didn't really like at all.  By the way, Carly Ritter is the late actor John Ritter's daughter, Tex Ritter's grand-daughter.

Sons of Bill - The Rain:  I got this song as a free download several months ago and it has just haunted me since.  It's a very powerful song and I probably butcher it horribly, but I still keep working on it.  I recently got their newest album, plus I went to their official website and downloaded a bunch of live stuff for free that they had available there.  I'm probably going to buy their two previous albums soon.  They're my newest favorite group.

Sons of Bill - Roll On Jordan:   This was on one of the live sets that I downloaded.  It's a gospel-tinged Americana song.

The Baptism of Jesse Taylor:  I grabbed the lyrics for this one just about an hour ago, and it's another one that I didn't bother printing out the chords for.  I came across the Oakridge Boys' version of it while blog-reading earlier today, and thought to myself, how could I have forgotten this song?  So I looked up the original, which is by a guy named Johnny Russell.  He recorded a bunch of albums himself, but mostly he wrote songs that were hits for other country singers.  Russell's only top 10 hit was "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer."  He also wrote "Let's Fall to Pieces Together," which was a hit for George Strait.

My next step is to pick out 5 or 10 songs and just practice those until I get them all completely memorized.

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