Songs From Pandemic Time

Do you think there will be a label for that period of time in the year 2020? I heard someone say the phrase “pre-Covid19” the other day and thought, that totally sucks if we think that we are going to have to refer to that time period like that. I hear “pandemic lock-down” and “during the lock-down” alot. I’m not saying they are right or wrong, but it did happen: I started working from home as a precaution.

There was a bunch of songs I was looking into every week, making new song arrangements, finishing the arrangements of other songs that I had left in a folder that were on the back burner and so on. And I went into them and then some.

I realized this year, in February I think it was, that most of these songs are so depressing LOL, songs of loss and weepiness. But if we didn’t have these songs there would be nothing to balance out the happy-go-lucky ones. Also, we need emotional outlets occasionally. I think because I was a bit worried, and I had no outlet for that from day to day, I just gravitated towards these semi-weepy songs.

I almost titled this “Another Eagles Song”, but I decided, let’s be true to the time period I arranged this in.

I found “Wasted Time” online and loved the key for singing but did not like some of the chords. I played it on my tenor and I played it on my favourite, my pineapple soprano, but nope, there was something wonky about the chords. I heard it in my head a certain way and some of those chords were just wrong! So I had to spend a considerable amount of time going through chord groups and experimenting. It was a wonderful way to spend some time! I really enjoyed it.

Today’s songs are Wasted Time by the Eagles, and Without You by Harry Nilsson. Although, between you and me – and please don’t hate me! – I absolutely LOVE Mariah Carey’s version of Without You: she did an amazing job and I wish, I wish, I wish I could sing like her!!

Road Trip Memories

Childhood memories…

The song I’m posting today, Best of My Love by the Eagles, has a special place in my heart.

My father of all people loved this band. He was heavily invested in the 8-track cassette tape players. There was one in our house, one in our van, and one in our BOAT (didn’t last, but hey, brownie points for effort).

The 8-track tapes played round the clock at our place and if we were driving in the van for more than 1 hour we listened to one from start to finish. The glory and genius of the 8-track tape was that it was continuous: it didn’t have to be re-wound like a cassette tape. And my father took full advantage of that!

The family van!

A 1975 Ford Econoline Club Wagon was our family vehicle until 1980. My father took us on our 1-week summer vacation to Calabogie Lake, Ontario every year, towing an aluminum fishing boat.

This 7 and 1/2 hour journey was made on Hwy 7 from Peterborough to Perth, travelling through such quaint little places such as Havelock, Madoc and Kaladar.

Sidebar: Although I haven’t been up that way in over 15 years, a couple years ago a friend of mine told me that the town of Kaladar holds a huge country and folk music festival on a farm every summer, and that the attendees come in with their trailers and camp there all weekend. It’s so big and so well known that the legendary Tom Cochrane likes to drop in and jam with the bands. Go Kaladar!

Fishing buffs: Between Kaladar and Perth is Sharbot Lake. My dad used to make a day trip just to fish there and he said that lake has some of the biggest fish he’s ever seen – and we live on Lake Erie, so that’s saying something!!

Perth: the town you are looking for after traversing the countryside. This town has Canadian Tire, fast foods, Tim Horton’s, car repair shops, gas stations, bait shops, grocery store and Hospital. But wait! Exit Perth on the 511 North, and this takes you strait to Balderson, Ontario, home of the best cheese ever. Stock up on this before you get to the cottage to enjoy with the wine you picked up in Perth. Balderson Cheese was a mandatory destination stop. We even stopped there on the way home to pick up a year’s supply!

Just up the road from there is Lanark, and this is your last chance to get any bug-spray or firewood before you go into no-man’s land. Also, it’s hilly as hell from this point on. What’s that? You thought Hwy 7 was hilly? Nah. We’re talking rollercoaster level from here on until you get to Calabogie Lake. (The next lake over, Centennial, is probably better known for fishing and camping.) This will only be assuaged by the opportunity to pull over and buy quarts of blueberries along the way. Yum!

So that’s a snap-shot of my annual family road trip to the (multi-family shared) cottage. The best part about it was the endlessly playing 8-track tapes of: Kenny Rogers the Gambler, Olivia Newton-John’s Greatests Hits, and a country and easy-listening compilation of hits from the 70’s called The Green, Green, Grass of Home. But his absolute favourite was The Eagles Greatest Hits.

We made 3 road trips a year: Florida for March break, Calabogie Lake in July, Florida for Christmas break (2 weeks). I have told my husband Jeff about how just preparing for these trips is a cherished childhood memory. Before my Dad bought the brown Econoline van we had station wagons – actual woody’s! My parents were both teachers since I was 5 years old, so I have a distinct memory of sitting in the station wagon leaning over the back seat, looking though the open back door watching my parents load all our stuff. And this was on Friday after school because we needed to get on the road as soon as possible. The station wagon was backed into the garage, the door was open and the kitchen door was propped open. Then we’d haul ass to Windsor to cross the border into Detroit as the first leg of our journey to Florida. One year we had a tire blow-out on the Florida turnpike – I remember always seeing these signs for KISSIMEE – and my Mom turns around and yells at my older sister and me, “Hold on, girls!” – I’m lounging in the back, leaning over the top of the back seat and my sister is sitting propped against the door with her legs lengthwise along the back seat, and we’re playing cards or something like that – I think I was 8, and when my Mom yells out to us LOL we grab each other instead of holding on to something! The wagon is swishing back n forth and we’re in the fast lane on the right, and my dad has no choice but to pull over on the far right with fast traffic whizzing by us while he changes the tire, then, on the return trip we blow another tire somewhere in another state. Dad said that’s what made him decide to trade that wagon for a van, and he’s always had vans since then. And he never had another second-hand vehicle ever, after that!

Enter the two-tone brown Ford Econoline van in 1975, with it’s cool sliding side door, and two bi-fold back doors. A small ladder was mounted on the back door on the right and the big spare tire was mounted on the back door on the left. The front seats were two luxury captains chairs that could swivel around backwards. This seemed revolutionary and modern! Then a short bench seat, and then a long bench seat that spanned from one side to the other. I had the short one and my sister had the longer one. Here’s my next childhood road trip memory: while the van is in motion, driving down one of the American I’s, ON AUTO-CRUISE (also very cool and modern) – my parents switched drivers. I’ll never forget it. It was kinda like the game Twister, ha ha. I never saw them do it again, but they probably did. Owning this van also ended our over-nighting at motels: it influenced them to “drive straight through”. Since our destination in Florida was 22 hours from home, my parents gave in to the temptation. We would be on the road by 5 pm Friday after school, eating sandwiches for supper, stop once we got across the border for a pee break, then my mom would tuck me into my sleeping bag by wrapping the lap seat belt around the outside of it and clicking it in behind me, just so she knew I was secure and wouldn’t slide off the bench seat while I slept. And I would go to sleep, and wake up in the morning to the wonderful smell of coffee brewing. She had a little coffee maker that plugged in to a utility outlet in the front console, and this thing would make 1 cup of coffee at a time and she just loved that thing. I did too, I loved waking up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee. One time, my dad reached around behind him and nudged me awake. He was telling me to wake up and see the sun rise over the Smokey mountains with him. So I got out of my sleeping bag and climbed into the front passenger seat and got to enjoy that with him. Found out my mom had gone into the back of the van for a lie down amongst all our luggage and shoes!

During this time while my sister and I slept through the overnight drives, my father played his 8-track tapes and we would listen to those songs over and over again. I would drift off to sleep with Kenny Rogers and wake up with Olivia N-J. During the day it was the Eagles all the way. In 1980 my Dad traded in the two-tone brown Econoline for a brand new two-tone blue one. They were virtually identical except for the colour, and the new one had chrome running boards. Dad traded the blue Econoline for a red Ford Windstar in 1985, and they continued driving to Florida until 2018. So for 10 years we travelled in a Ford Econoline for our family vacations. Good call Dad, ’cause those road trips are some of my best childhood memories! I even learned to drive and got my license in the blue Ford Econoline!

I hope you enjoyed my road-trip childhood memories. We had many adventures on the road, like the time my mom left her purse behind in an IHOP in Cincinnati, Ohio, but a staffer called us on our mobile phone – my dad was so modern!!! – and told her about it LOL she didn’t even realize til that moment – and my dad was put out because he had to turn around and go back, costing precious time! Sometimes one of us had to go to the bathroom – urgently!! – only there was no exit for miles yet, so my parents pulled over and we were given a roll of toilet paper and told to go crouch behind a bush. One time, between two doors, back in the station wagon days. We travelled with our dog, without our dog, with coolers, with packed lunches, boxes of snacks and home-made bottled water from rinsed out orange juice containers. I read Nancy Drew mysteries and did books of word search puzzles. And all the while, the music was playing, over and over. My parents sang along, I sang along. And to this day, when any one of those songs comes over the radio or comes up at karaoke or ukulele jams, I know it in my heart because it is directly linked to my happiest childhood memories.

In honour of that last sentence here is Best of Love and Homeward Bound. I hope you enjoy playing them together.

Summer Heat

Image result for desert with snow

Wouldn’t it be great if our love was just Soooooo hot that when winter came we just wanted to go deep in the desert and let our love thaw the snow?  Like, wow! Whatever that means, in “music-land”, that must be some kinda heat, ya know?

All the lyrics I find on the internet, by the way, claim that line as “I yearned for the snow”, but if you get really relaxed and then listen to the song, like over and over and over, you will indeed discern the words, “our LO-ove thaw the sno-OH!”

So here is my poetic license, if you will, of Orleans classic 1976 hit, “Still the One”.

Still The One revised

 

 

I Love a Rainy Night

Image result for rainy night

Ever get an “ear worm”? A song, or part of a song, gets stuck in your head, and no matter how hard you try to distract yourself you can’t stop hearing it in your head! Playing over and over and over……. Sometimes, it’s a part of a song we totally hate, but which has unfortunately become popular over the air-waves. And the radio station seems to be playing it over and over and over…..

The best that you can hope for is something you like gets stuck in there, and you end up counting down the hours at work until “Miller time” when you can rush home and get to your Ukulele. I find that playing my ukulele and transposing songs can help relieve the stress of my job tremendously. Having to focus on the chords, the words and the melody takes my mind off my troubles.

In the winter we like to get out to as much karaoke as we possibly can, sometimes going to as many as 3 per week. We have a group of friends and family who enjoy going around the karaoke circuit too, so we always have a great time. A couple of months ago Jeff’s brother threw a house party for karaoke and we wound up singing well into the wee hours of the morning – on a weekend of course! – and one of the songs chosen that night was I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbitt.

Man, I hadn’t heard that song in decades I bet you. I had forgotton what a nice, simple song it was, practically unplugged. I can recall that at the time when it was a hit the radio stations seemed to play it several times a day, every day. Over and over and over….ha ha ha.

So, I’m not going to bore you with the background of this song, heck I’m not even going to tell you the year, I’m just going to post my arrangement of the song with an accompanying video (of Eddie Rabbitt, not me). I will tell you my arrangement is in the Key of F, DUE TO THE FACT THAT: the Key of C as presented to me on the internet was too low, and the Key of G, which is one of my favourite keys to play in, was too high, leaving me with the keys of D or F. (Not E, nobody plays ukulele songs in the Key of E unless they absolutely have to, there is no other alternative, et cetera and so forth.) So, by a little thing called: “process of elimination” (much like Survivor only you’re allowed to eat and also sleep in a bed) I chose the Key of F.

Now, if only Ukulele players out there could overcome their…..fear? aversion? dislike? fear? of playing “the dreaded B flat” chord, just think of how much pleasure they could derive from playing such songs as this. So, Ukulele fans and players, I leave you with this little gem of a song arrangement and I challenge you to master the chord of B flat in order to enhance your enjoyment of this song in itself. Perhaps this song will kick off an interest in this key, after all it really is quite simple and all of the chords in this key are fluid (one position leads well into the next). Also, once you master the difficulty of the B flat chord you will feel quite smug about your achievement and possibly even brag about it to other uke players, ie. “B flat? I play that one all the time!” So get ready to join  the club, here is I Love a Rainy Night ~ I LOVE A RAINY NIGHT

 

Say That You Love Me

Image result for christine mcvie 70s1976. Rural Ontario. Summer heat wave.  Radio blarin’ on the picnic blanket in the shade of the back yard. First crush, first kiss, holdin’ hands with that special someone. These are the memories evoked when I hear the iconic Fleetwood Mac song, Say You Love Me, performed by Christine McVie. Love it!

Say That You Love Me G 2

So here is a good video of the band performing this song in 1977.

Good Camp Fire Song

Recently we went camping with my 17-year old daughter, my 16-year old daughter and her two girl friends. And Jeff. And a Whippoorwill that sang us to sleep each night.

Around the campfire songs ranged from My Bolognie Has A First Name to All About that Bass. It’s amazing how the consumption of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers can influence your music playing!

[C] “My bologna has a first name, it’s [F] O-S-C-A-R.

My [G7] bologna has a second name, it’s [C] M-A-Y-E-R.

[C] Oh, I love to eat it every day, and [F] if you ask me why I’ll saaaaaaaay:

Cause Oscar Mayer [C] has a way with [G7] B-O-L-O-[C] G-N-A!”

One of my first camping experiences occurred at a young age with my Girl Guides group. They had their own sing-along book called the Girl Guides of Canada Song Book. Made in the 50’s or 60’s probably. This is where I was able to get the lyrics of the Canadian version of This Land is My Land.

I don’t know if this song is in that publication but here is I Love the Mountains. You may recall this song from a Discovery Channel commercial. Those lyrics are included.

I Love The Mountains

P.S. I recently learned that Whippoorwills are small, nocturnal woodland birds!!

Songs From Our Uke Group

Sometimes inspiration comes from others, as well as within. And when that happens, it makes playing music that much more enjoyable.

I have been putting together songs with and for members of our newly formed uke group, T’UkeS – Tillsonburg Uke Society. Some of them have been out there performing for the nursing home called Maple Manor, using their keyboard and guitar, and since joining our group and learning how to play their ukulele’s have  been asking us to transpose some of their repetoire songs and some of our teaching songs. It’s been lots of fun and I’m sharing the arrangements with everyone below.

One of our teaching songs is On the Wings of a Dove in C, which we transposed to the Key of G which some members found easier to sing.

On the Wings of a Dove

On the Wings of a Dove G

Another teaching song was I’ll Fly Away in the Key of D, used to teach the chords used in the Key of D. They liked to sing it better in the Key of C, so here are both versions:

I’ll Fly Away in D

I’ll Fly Away in C

Another song is Could I Have This Dance by Anne Murray, which we have on good ‘intel’ is a popular country jam song:

Could I Have This Dance

We also used Tiny Bubbles as a teaching song, and that went over really well.

Tiny Bubbles C G7

And this is a more sophistocated, or performance style version of Tiny Bubbles:

Tiny Bubbles C Performance

There are a couple more that are Irish tunes, but they aren’t on my computer so I can’t upload them. However, in the foreseeable future once I get some time to type them in and add chord boxes I will add another ukulele group post. For now I hope those of you who play in groups, are looking for group songs or nursing home/performance songs enjoy these few.

A Good Pie Auction

Two or three years ago my friend Cheryl approached me to play some ukulele tunes in Norwich for her church’s pie auction fundraiser – stop already, you had me at “pie auction”!!

And it was really fun. The spokesman would announce an entertainer – who was allowed no more than 10 minutes – immediately followed by auctioning of baked goods by the pastor.

Of course, Cheryl’s husband Bill was always trying to get something for “two bits!” Cheryl said that as the years went by the talent show part of the fundraiser kept growing so that the time of the event kept moving back. So the first time I attended with her I think it started at 4 p.m. and I think it went on til 9 p.m. at night and the place was packed.

The songs we did that year were Ghost Chickens, which I made available in my first Song book, and Side by Side. This year our “hit” was Ukulele Lady as performed by Cheryl’s brother doing the hula in a grass skirt, wig and coconut bra. Who doesn’t want a pie after seeing that??!!!!

Here is Side By Side, from the online ukulele songbook Hits of the Blitz, available from the Worthington Uke Jam website:

http://www.wukulele.com

under the Songbooks tab. They have many songbooks available to download.

Cat’s favourite “Ukulele Lady” version:

Cheryl’s favourite version:

This “Ukulele Lady” version for soprano ukulele we doctor’d to suit ourselves for performing at the Pie Auction. In the first verse you’ll see a C-G7 above “a-long”, which is a slide off C up to the G7 and you sing it by going up with your voice from C up to G for the word “long”. In the chorus, the triangle symbol before the words “Maybe” means a pause, so you strum the new chord first and then start singing.

UKULELE LADY PERFORMANCE

 

On and On

Being a child of the 70’s I love this song along with most of the easy listening genre that was prevalent during that time. Some of the artists known for this genre are Lionel Ritchie, Phil Collins, Art Garfunkel, Anne Murray, Eric Clapton, Steve Miller Band, the Eagles, ABBA, Neil Young, Gloria Gaynor, Paul McCartney (Maybe I’m Amazed), Marvin Gaye, Crystal Gayle, Juice Newton, The Carpenters, David Bowey (Space Oddity) and even singles by John Lennon such as Imagine.

One of my favourite songs in the 70’s was “On and On” by Stephen Bishop.

One of the main things Stephen Bishop did to survive as a musician was songwriting. You would be surprised at how many very famous recording artists signed on to recording labels for just that reason and churned out hundreds if not thousands of hit-maker songs for other artists (ie., Willie Nelson).

So Stephen Bishop was in this same boat, and after about 8 years didn’t Art Garfunkel come along and select two of Bishop’s songs off a demo tape to record for his platinum record Breakaway. They were “Looking for the Right One” and “The Same Old Tears on a New Background.”  Within a year Bishop had his fist album Careless which contained his two biggest hits: “Save it for a Rainy Day” and “On and On.” Other artists who contributed to his album were Eric Clapton, Garfunkel and Chaka Khan. Bishop had one more Top 100 hit on his next album in 1978, but surprisingly he went on to write and perform numerous hit songs for popular movies, including the theme song for the famous Dustin Hoffman movie Tootsie, “It Might Be You”.

Other well-known movies he contributed songs to were “Dream Girl” for Animal House; “Separate Lives” for White Nights, sung by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin; “Your Precious Love” for Roadie; and “Unfaithfully Yours (One Love)” for Unfaithfully Yours. He also produced some songs for Phil Collin’s 1989 album Bowling in Paris, working with Eric Clapton and Sting.

Stephen Bishop – to the right of John Belushi – as the “charming guitar guy” at the toga party scene in the movie Animal House.

In 1978 Stephen Bishop was the musical guest star on the acclaimed television show, Saturday Night Live. He also appeared in a scene in National Lampoon’s Animal House as “Charming Guy with Guitar” where John Belushi smashes the guy’s guitar. Bishop claims to have kept the smashed guitar from that scene as a memento of Belushi. He also appeared in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers as “Charming Trooper” who breaks his watch during the mall chase.

Stephen Bishop’s biggest hit remains “On and On”. I just happened to come upon an arrangement of it in Jim Beloff’s music book, Jumpin’ Jim’s Island Ukulele. It can be found on page 57.

I also want to mention that I own two other Beloff music books, Jumpin’ Jim’s Ukulele Beach Party and Jumpin’ Jim’s Gone Hawaiian. But in this particular book, you get a fantastic information page called “Strum Shack” on page 3 that uses illustrations and symbols to explain specific strum patterns. The first one is “Island Strum”and it is INVALUABLE…… for learning towards performing most of the songs in this book. Jim claims the Island Strum can be used to “spice up” songs like “I Can See Clearly Now” and “Jamaica Farewell”.

These books also give you two pages of chords as well. In Ukulele Island it’s called the “Chord Cabana” on pages 4 and 5 (also invaluable). Just as a last comment, I would like to say that it has been my experience that when you buy a Jim Beloff book you get so much more than you were looking for! I never expected to gain those strum patterns from his book but that is exactly where I first learned to do the Roll Strum. Ukulele Island also has “Margaritaville”, “Beyond the Sea”, “Day-O (the Banana Boat Song)”, “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, “Marianne”, “Sway”, “Three Little Birds”, a Jimmy Buffett song called “Volcano” and more (some were Hawaiian or Polynesian and I’m not familiar with them).

So here is my rendition of “On and On” in the Key of C with, of course, my own embellishments. The song rocks back and forth in a 4-beat measure between C and Am, two beats each, so the way I play it is to continue to hold down C and just add Am with my second finger. Beloff’s arrangement uses a suspended G7, but since I never could get my fingers to reach it, I prefer to limit it to G7. Since we are only on it for 2 beats before returning to the C and Am combo I feel that less is more in this instance. We don’t skimp however, on the suspended A7 because it has a leading cadence into the next chord of A7, and this is a really sweet combination. Lastly, at the end of the Bridge, I put in a D7 chord only because I am unfamiliar with playing D9, which is the chord that is called for there, but I am not used to the jazz sound of it. I mention it so you can have the option of replacing the D7 with D9.

My favourite thing about this song is also THE FACT that:  EACH CHORUS IS DIFFERENT!!!!! So wake up out there, lyrics writers! Pay better attention!!! I can not tell you how many online versions of this song have – mistakenly –  only one chorus. Ahem! It goes like this; the first verse is about Lonesome Sue so the corresponding chorus goes, “On and on, she just keeps on trying, and she smiles….,” etc. The second verse is about Poor Ol’ Jimmy (steals the stars from the sky) so the corresponding chorus is ACTUALLY this: “On and on, HE just keeps on trying, and HE smiles when HE feels…..,” etc. The last verse is about…..ME!! So the corresponding chorus goes, “On and on, I just keep on trying, and I smile when I feel like…..” etc. I can see how the confusion got started, since “he” does happen to rhyme with “she”. So when people began to recognize this song on the radio I imagine they sang along at the top of their lungs, effectively drowning out the song itself and never realizing that the three chorus’s differed from each other.

Thank God for Youtube.

ON AND ON

       These books and others by Jim Beloff can be found at his website, Flea Market Music for $14.95 plus shipping and taxes. I have also found them on http://www.amazon.ca for a comparable price.

Aloha!