His newest CD, “Jake Shimabukuro Live,” includes a uke cover of the Michael Jackson classic, along with his amazing version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
If you’ve never hear Shimabukuro before, check it out. He basically plays the uke like a classical guitar. Crazy stuff.
Shimabukuro is largely responsible for the latest ukulele revival, which began in the late 90s but has really gained momentum in the last three years. Popular in both Vaudeville and Hawaii, the uke is now found all over the Internet.
This college student has a strong following, getting up to a million hits per video. And I’m a big fan of this version of “Down Under.” But Shimabukuro’s cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” blows them all away.
As impressive as that is, I like my uke songs a little less intense. Being a much less qualified uke player myself, I’ve developed a favorite playlist.
Top ten list anyone?
My Top Ten Songs to Play on Uke:
9.) ”Christmas Island.” Three months after Christmas, I found myself playing this one. It’s just so mellow. My first exposure to it was through Leon Redbone, though I also like Jimmy Buffet’s. And speaking of Jimmy Buffet:
8.) “Changes in Lattitudes, Changes in Attitudes.” You might have expected Buffet’s “Margaritaville,” which is also a pretty good one to play on uke. But, frankly, I think I sing this one better. Not that I sing well.
7.) ”After Midnight.” The uke isn’t just for Hawaiian or old-timey songs. This Patsy Cline country classic works really well on the 4-string.
6.) “Bright Side of Life.” When I interviewed Jim Beloff — the guru of uke music, who regularly puts out ukulele song books — he asked me if I had any suggestions for future books. I offered up this one. A Monty Python song, it’s pretty goofy. But it includes whistling. And any song with whistling in it is great for the uke. Which, of course, brings me to:
5.) “What a Day for a Daydream.” Ah, yes — the Lovin’ Spoonful. This one just makes you want to lie under a tree and strum away your worries.
Recession and threat of economic collapse got you down? Forget about it. Just daydream.
And, by the way – this is easy to play.
4.) “Banana Pancakes.” Basicaly, a whole lot of Jack Johnson songs are good for the ukulele. This one just happens to have a nice groove.
3.) “Hello Dolly.” I really like the Louis Armstrong version. Problem is, when I try to sing like Satchmo, I start coughing and my eyes get all watery. Not to mention it sounds like a bad Cookie Monster impression.
Did I say George Harrison?
1.) “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” When I first got my ukulele, I was determined to learn this jazz standard, covered wonderfully by Harrison. Except, the thing is? It has a gazillion chords. I’m still working on it.
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