Uke Tunes

Uke-ifying my favourite songs


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The Best Of Blondie – Ukulele Song Book

Just over five years ago I published the first songbook on these pages – Blondie’s Parallel Lines, which led to the first of our album / theme nights. 34 song books and 17 theme nights later, we’ve almost come full circle, but this time it’s an album that collects together the very very best of Blondie from their golden era.

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The Best Of Blondie was the first Blondie compilation, released at the end of 1981 when the band were very much at the height of their powers (and thankfully before the huge disappointment that was The Hunter, their last album before their split). As such it is – in my opinion – an unrivalled collection of the songs that really made the band. Comprising just the singles (and in this instance I’ve followed the track listing of the International version, not the North American version) it really is banger after banger, and highlights the richness and variety that made up the bands oeuvre. So for every power-pop classic (and there are plenty of those – from the likes of “Picture This” and “Dreaming”), you also get swooning sixties girl-group and pop (“In The Flesh”, “Denis”), pure pop (“Sunday Girl”), disco (“Heart of Glass”, “Atomic” – the latter complete with a spaghetti western vibe), reggae (“The Tide Is High”) and rap (“Rapture”).

The band had originally emerged from the punk scene centred around New York’s CBGBs club – a venue that had a pivotal role in the careers of a huge number of bands around that time, from Talking Heads and Patti Smith to Television and The Ramones. Although associated with the punk scene, Blondie were always far more than the rather formulaic perception that label seems to conjure up. Whilst their first couple of albums (1977s Blondie, and 1978s Plastic Letters) were certainly inspired by the “I’ll do it my way” mentality of Punk, they were far more of a prototypical New Wave sound – especially when compared to contemporaries like The Ramones – and were shot through with the spirit of 1960s pop. Both albums were instrumental in building the band a fan base and a level of success both domestically and internationally.

But it was with 1978s Parallel Lines that the band really broke through. Produced by Michael Chapman, it was deliberately engineered to create a more commercial sound. And boy, did they succeed. Four / five (depending on how you count) huge hit singles, worldwide sales of 16 million, and Blondie were everywhere – undoubtedly the most successful band of their time, and with Debbie Harry at the front, the most recognisable. Everything they did turned to gold, and Parallel Lines follow-up, Eat To The Beat was – if not as consistent, was a successful continuation. But with 1980’s Autoamerican the band took something of a radical departure, broadening their musical palette with a variety of influences, from rap and reggae to jazz, electronics and orchestral.

The Best Of Blondie stops there – thankfully! 1982’s The Hunter was a mess, poorly received both critically and commercially, and saw the band breaking up 6 months later. A late 1990s reformation has seen a steady stream of new material (including the number one single, Maria), but in truth, it is the songs on The Best Of Blondie that are what sustains people’s love for the band. Classic’s every one, this music, this record, is timeless.

So here it is – The Best Of Blondie songbook. Obviously there are some overlaps with Parallel Lines, and in the process of pulling this together I’ve tweaked some of those (and updated the Parallel Lines songbook in the process). Most of these songs are relatively simple, and I’ve done a bit of transposing of some of the songs to make them even easier. Rapture is likely to be the most challenging, but that’s more for the rapping than the playing. And there’s the French version of Sunday Girl. But this is a book to be played from start to end, and sung out loud. So Enjoy!

As well as the full songbook, you can also find individual song sheets for each song – links below:

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Linger – The Cranberries – Ukulele Chords

This time it’s a classic, timeless 90s tune from the constant fount of great music that is Ireland.

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The 90s were a bit of a blur for me, being as I was busy having and raising a family. So to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention, something not helped by dance / rave and grunge – big musical movements of the early 90s certainly – not really being my thing. And so I came upon The Cranberries somewhat later and out of time.

But songs like Dreams, Zombie and particularly this one – Linger – were songs that crept up on me via. ongoing radio presence. Emerging from Limerick, a small city on the west coast of Ireland, The Cranberries channelled an indie rock sound that also embraced elements of folk rock, dream pop and – in my mind at least – echoes of both Cocteau Twins and Sinead O’Connor in singer Dolores O’Riordan’s unique and evocative voice. Tragically, O’Riordan died in 2018.

Linger, a track from the bands debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, followed Dreams in breaking the band not just in Ireland but internationally, and along with Dreams and Zombie has come to be a signature tune for the band.

The songsheet is a straightforward one in the key of D, with a repeating chord sequence all the way through. Essentially D, A, C and G, I’ve tweaked that with the use of an A6 and Cadd9 that adds some different touches to the sound (despite what they might sound, these are nice and easy alternatives). I’ve also included the picked intro (which sounds rather lovely) and an optional enhanced strumming pattern which – once you get it – is much easier than it looks (and which you can pick out from the acoustic MTV version). Enjoy!


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(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) – Beastie Boys – Ukulele Chords

The source of inspiration for the songs posted on this lil’ blog are many and varied, but I can safely say that this is the first run inspired by the BBC quiz show “Richard Osman’s House Of Games”.

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We’ve become big fans of the programme, and one of the rounds in the competition is called Singonyms. In that round players are given a set of song lyrics where all words have been replaced with synonyms of the original words, the objective being to guess the title of the original song. These can be at turns both hilarious and frustrating. In a recent episode that we watched one of the tunes was this one. I wish I could find / remember what the lyric had been transposed into, but hearing a clip of the tune made me think “well, that could work, couldn’t it”. And so here we are.

Let me be upfront. I’m not a Beastie Boys fan. I’m not much of a hip-hop fan, or a heavy rock fan, so this isn’t really *my* kind of tune. But there’s something in the energy and brashness of this tune (and I use the term “tune” cautiously, as there’s not a lot of melodic invention on show here!) that makes the long-suppressed inner teenager want to jump up and down and shout this in the most brattish way.

Named by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll, this song sits in my mind alongside Run DMC and Aerosmith’s Walk This Way (released within months of each other) as – at the time – ground-breaking amalgams of heavy rock and hip-hop.

So Beastie Boys on ukulele?! Well, why not! It’s a few simple chords, and a lot of shouting! Well, it’s a bit more than that, but essentially it’s built around one big riff (which sounds not unlike the beginning of Smoke On The Water) that plays through much of the song. I don’t really think it’s worth much more explaining, but play along (Capo 1) and give it some wellie! Enjoy!


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Army Dreamers – Kate Bush – Ukulele Song Sheet

Kate Bush has cropped up a couple of times over the years on these pages – first via. the (recently rediscovered) classic Running Up That Hill, and secondly via. the inclusion of Wow! in the 1979 songbook (the latter did get a reasonably successful live outing via. one of our “SUJ vs …” evenings).

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Today’s entry adds to the Kate tally with a single taken from her 1980 album Never for Ever. Whilst not one of her biggest hits (it peaked in the UK singles chart at number 16) Army Dreamers remains a much loved (if not so often heard these days) tune from the early days of her career. Toning down some of the more overblown eccentricities that were maybe expected of Bush, Army Dreamers is a waltz tune with a strong anti-war tone (Breathing, from the same album, had a similar theme, focussing on the threat of nuclear war from the perspective of a foetus in the womb). Army Dreamers takes the perspective of a mother grieving the unnecessary loss of her son, killed in military manoeuvres, and pondering the inevitable “what if” of what she could have done to prevent the death,

Unfortunately, as events of this last year have shown, the song still remains strongly relevant.

And so to the song sheet. It’s a relatively simple tune, set in waltz time – a simple 3/4 strum pattern works well, or if you’re feeling more adventurous you can adopt a variant of the picking pattern used on the original. I’ve transcribed the simple riff that plays over the intro (and elsewhere throughout the song) to add some additional colour as well. Enjoy!


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Thinking Of You – The Colourfield – Ukulele Song Sheets

Terry Hall – RIP

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Terry Hall was so much more than The Specials. Not that The Specials are a bad thing – far from it, and their last album (Protest Songs) was a definite favourite of mine, and gave me a chance to see a somewhat stripped down version of chance to the band live locally.

But in a career that spanned over 40 years, there were plenty of left turns. Obviously there was the Fun Boy Three, the band that he (and Neville Staple and Lynval Golding) left The Specials to form, and with which he scored a number of hits, including launching the career of Bananarama with a couple of collaborations. And then there was the solo records he produced, not the least of which is his debut solo album, Home, recorded with Ian Broudie (of Lightning Seeds fame) and which is something of a lost classic.

Inbetween those, however, was The Colourfield, a band that Hall formed with Toby Lyons and Karl Shale, two former members of The Swinging Cats, another Coventry band who released one single on Two-Tone. The Colourfield were something of a change from the Fun Boy Three, moving from the rhythmic ska sound towards a palette that was more influenced by 60s and 70s pop, with jazzy vibes, acoustic sounds and string arrangements that see them labelled (in retrospect – it wasn’t a thing at the time) as sophisti-pop. It went something against the grain of the times (the mid-80s was big everything – drums, haircuts, shoulder pads), and the change of direction and more subtle sounds didn’t really land well with the general public.

Thinking Of You was the one hit the band had, but what a tune. With additional vocals from Katrina Phillips, the song peaked at number 12 in early 1985.

And so here is the songsheet. It’s a gorgeous little tune, but that comes at a price! There’s a ton of chords in here (not helped by a key change two-thirds of the way through), lots of minor and major 7ths that give the song that lovely feel. In my opinion totally worth persevering with. Enjoy!