Uke Tunes

Uke-ifying my favourite songs


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Glen Campbell – Any Trouble / Wish You Were Here

ghostonthecanvas<Any Trouble> <Wish You Were Here>

There appears to have been something of a Glen Campbell love-fest going on on this site. One of my earliest posts was Rhinestone Cowboy, and more recently I posted on Jimmy Webb’s gorgeous song Wichita Lineman. Neither songs are Campbell originals, and whilst he is a strong songwriter in his own right, it’s more for his choice and treatment of the songs of others that he is reverred. However to the wider public at large, if Campbell means anything it is as a cheesy 70s throwback. Their loss!

The two songs I’m highlighting here come from Campbell’s 61st (61st!) album Ghost on the Canvas. Effectively his last studio recording following his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease (2013’s See You There was culled from the same sessions as this recording, and is largely re-recordings of previous songs) the album is a strongly cohesive collection of stunning songs that honestly reflect the position he finds himself in – looking back over a successful and eventful career, rueing some of the personal cost that went with it (his personal life has been eventful, to say the least), contemplating themes of mortality and finality. But the songs rarely do this in a downcast way, but instead are largely shot through with strength and positivity which, given the circumstances, is amazing. The album is often compared to Johnny Cash’s final American Recordings series, and much as I love those albums, Cambpell’s probably has a more positive vibe than some of the later of Cash’s albums.

But this isn’t a solo effort. The album is a collaboration with producer and friend Julian Raymond, many of the songs are co-writes between Campbell and Raymond – Raymond used conversations he had with Campbell about his life as source material for many of the songs. Additionally a number of songs from contemporary songwriters, such as Paul Westerberg, Jakob Dylan and Teddy Thompson were added to the music, along with a selection of brief musical interludes between tracks (from Roger Joseph Manning, Jr.) that are reminiscent of the Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds.

And so to the two songs here. Any Trouble is a song written by Paul Westerberg, best known as the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter in The Replacements. The song wasn’t written specifically for Campbell, but with it’s theme’s of looking back and thinking about those who will be left behind when he’s gone, it fits the mood of the album perfectly.

Wish You Were Here is a song from the pen of Jimmy Webb. Originally called “Postcard from Paris”, it was first recorded by John Denver in 1990, and appeared on Webb’s solo album Suspending Disbelief in 1993. Campbell’s version changes the song significanly, particularly in terms of the melody, and therefore justifies the re-titling.

Unfortunately Campbell’s record company, Warner Music, have been assiduous in keeping the studio recordings from YouTube. So the two links here to versions of the songs aren’t the actual album versions. You can probably find them on Spotify or the like, so go and track them (and the whole album) down – you won’t regret it.

And finally(!) here are the song sheets. They’re just the chords, and despite a few unusual chords in there they are not too tricky once you get the hang of them. The chorus of Wish You Were Here is a little tricky to sing on your own and fit it all in without overdubbing, but give it  a go. A big thank you to my son for lending his vastly superior musical knowledge to getting the chords for Wish You Were Here worked out. Enjoy!

<Any Trouble> <Wish You Were Here>


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Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell

wichita<chords> <chords & tab

Fact : Jimmy Webb has produced some of the most sublime songs in pop history. By The Time I Get To Phoenix, GalvestonMacArthur ParkThe Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Up, Up and Away are all glorious songs. But one song stands above all the others in my book, and that is Wichita Lineman.

Webb’s collaborations with Glen Campbell have been kind to both men, and the Campbell version is so definitive it is one of those times when it just seems so pointless anybody else releasing a version. Campbell’s recording of the song cannot be bettered (another fact!). I’m not alone in feeling that either – apparently Stuart Maconie called it “the greatest pop song ever composed”, and somebody at the BBC referred to it as “one of those rare songs that seems somehow to exist in a world of its own – not just timeless but ultimately outside of modern music”.

What makes the song so great is a little hard to pin down. It’s a wistful piece, dwelling on a long-distance absence from a lover. The line “And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time” is so evocative, it’s genius. The musical backing should be syrupy and full-on middle-of-the-road, drenched as it is in a sweet string arrangement. But somehow it rises above all of that – from the dramatic opening, the morse-code lines between the verses, the twanging guitar solo, the soaring strings, and the gorgeous fade-out, this is faultless.

So you’ll have guessed that I’m not expecting a ukulele version to improve on the original. But that said, it is a beautiful song to sing, even if me singing it isn’t exactly beautiful. I couldn’t find a ukulele song sheet that I liked, and so have adapted this from a number of guitar tab sites. I’m not claiming this is perfect, but it sounds OK to me (suggestions for improvements gratefully received).

There are two copies – one of which just contains the chords, the other of which contains the chords plus some tab as well – for the introduction, for the morse-code interludes, and for the instrumental half-verse (plus there’s an instrumental whole verse just for fun!).

Enjoy!

<chords> <chords & tab