One thing I always manage to do during a staycation is play my ukulele. And during last week’s staycation, I was further inspired to uke it up by the book “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” which I checked out from the Los Osos library.
Of course, I’d known that Harrison had long been a uke fan — even though he rarely played the instrument on records. And he was known to carry extra ukes around so he could teach friends.
In the book — a supplement to the Martin Scorcese documentary on Harrison — there’s a nice uke anectdote from Tom Petty, who learned to play uke when he was with in the Traveling Wilburys with Harrison:
He came in with two ukuleles and gave me one. ‘You gotta play this thing, it’s great! Let’s jam.’ I have no idea how to play a ukulele. ‘Oh, it’s no problem, I’ll show you.’ So we spent the rest of the day playing ukuleles, strolling around the yard. My wrist hurt the next day. But he taught me how to play it, and a lot of the chord formations. When he was going I walked out to the car and he said, ‘Well, wait… I want to leave some ukuleles here.’ He’d already given me one, so I said, ‘Well, I’ve got this.’ ‘No, we may need more!’ He opened his trunk and he had a lot of ukulele in there, and I think he left four at my house. He said, ‘Well, you never know when we might need them, because not everybody carries one around.’
Harrison’s son, Dhani, is another uke convert. He once told Rolling Stone, “Eventually, it gets to you and you can’t help but love it . . .Sometimes in the house there would be 10 people playing ukuleles at the same time.”
Of course, it makes sense that many of Harrison’s tunes sound great on uke. One that I worked on last week was his great tribute to John Lennon, “All Those Years Ago.”
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