Uke Tunes

Uke-ifying my favourite songs


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Over The Hill – John Martyn

OverTheHill

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John Martyn’s 1973 album “Solid Air” is a classic. That much is almost beyond debate. A gorgeous mix of folk, jazz and blues it is beautiful and timeless. “Over The Hill” is one of the simpler and more straightforward songs on that album, and it is that simplicity that makes it great for the uke. Obviously you can try emulating John’s extraordinary guitar technique on it if you want, but I prefer (am only able to?!) keep it much more simple.

Not much more to say on this one. Get the rhythm going, and you’re almost there. Enjoy!

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Road To Nowhere – Talking Heads

roadtonowhere

<song sheet> <song sheet with opening section tune>

Road to Nowhere is from the time when Talking Heads hit their commercial peak, at least in the UK. It’s arguable that in achieving this commercial success they lost some of the weirdness and edginess that made them such an interesting and oddball proposition previously. But for all that, this still isn’t your average straightforward three-minute pop song. Opening with an acapella gospel-choir-type introduction, before giving way to a martial drum rhythm and sounds that – to these ears – are influenced by Cajun and Zydeco (listen to that accordion!).

This arrangement begins with that unaccompanied introduction, although I’ve cheated slightly by adding in single stroke chords to keep me in tune! I tend to play it echoing that martial rhythm throughout the accompanied parts of the song.

There are quite a few ukulele versions out there (just search road to nowhere ukulele in YouTube) although I’m not sure how many I’d recommend. Anyway, give it a try and see how it goes. Enjoy!

[11/02/14 UPDATE : Having now tried this one out with Southampton Ukulele Jam, I’ve added an updated version of the song sheet that includes musical notation for the opening, unaccompanied verse. We’ve found this really helps in getting the timing for that bit right. Song sheet is here.]

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The Universal – Blur

TheUniversal

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A few quickies, as I’ve had these sat on the shelf for a while. First up is this one from Blur, released in 1995 at the peak of the phenomenon known as ¬†Britpop (from the same album as County House). Probably better known now instrumentally as the backing track to British Gas TV and radio adverts.

The song is reasonably straightforward, once you’ve got the hang of the rhythm – for the verses I just try to follow the rhythm that the string-section leads, with an on-the-beat thrashing for the chorus. Try it yourself and you’ll find something that works. Enjoy!

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