Five Fun Songs for Ukulele (Plus One)

Five Fun Songs for Ukulele (Plus One)

Hi, ya'll.  If you have been stalking this blog looking for a post here this week, please accept my apologies.  I am working on two handfuls of fun and educational stuff to post here (as well as an ebook).

But I want to include video and audio recordings in these, and I'm having technical difficulties with the sound.  Plus the weather has been clear and warm and getting outside has been most important here.  That and to be completely honest, I have had a hard time this week putting down the Gretsch Tenor I have been playing lately; making music has demanded my time over writing!

Here are some songs that I find such fun to play that I keep playing them over and over again.  Learn one or some or all of them this weekend or soon and you will have fun jamming too.

1. Stressed Out- Twenty One Pilots

I have never really been a "Top Hits" kind of gal, but when I heard this song the other day, I just knew I had to play it.  And it is really fun to play these several progressions that make up this song.  I had been messing about with chord progressions between F and A minor and D minor on ukulele myself recently; I think this may be why this song particularly struck my ears and said play me on the ukulele.  It's fun to play on guitar as well.  The rapping singsong style makes this an easy song to sing, too.
There are three progressions here: verses and prechorus with F to Dm to A minor; chorus with F-Em-Am-Em-Am-G-C-E (times two); and the bridge goes Am-G-C-Em (times three)

2. Breakdown- Jack Johnson

I think I included this song in my list of Easy Beginner Songs to Play on Acoustic Guitar, or if I didn't, I sure could have.  Or I could include it in the upcoming list of EASY songs to play on ukulele as well.  I have been thinking of this song as an easy song, but not an incredibly fun one, as I first learned it as a strum along, and it is super simple with the same four chord progression repeating throughout.  I recently heard this version of Jack playing this song with Jake Shimabukuro, and WOW, this sounds so delicious that I was running for my uke to try to play along.  This song is immense fun to play fingerstyle rather than just strumming chords.

3. American Pie- Don McLean

This song is fun because everyone seems to love to sing it- and you'll be glad to have the help!  I saw David Letterman quote Jon Mayer as saying this song is "kind of a beast."  And Mayer obviously believed it, because he sang the song and ripped out some signature lead lines, but let the band play the progression while he wore his guitar and focused on just singing.  This would be an easy song, as there are no difficult chords or changes here, particularly on guitar (as E minor is easier on guitar than on ukulele), but the progression is so long it takes a lot of repeats of playing this with a lead sheet in hand to commit the verse progression to memory.  That's okay though, because you will have fun every time you play it.  I find this song equally fun to play on ukulele or guitar.

4. Banana Pancakes- Jack Johnson

 This song is just pure fun to play, the dominant seventh quickly changing chord progression in the verses can't help but make you smile. They are easy changes on ukulele, and not difficult on guitar.

And this video has me itching to get my hands on an accordion; that would be tremendous fun to play, I bet!

I have had trouble limiting the Jack Johnson songs for this list; he has so many that I could write a post titled Twenty Five (or more!) Fun to Play Jack Johnson Songs.  Shot Reverse Shot, Washing Dishes, Better Together, and Talk of the Town are several that we have been playing often most recently. 

5. Every Morning- J Mascis

Up your tempo to jam this easy song.  I love playing this on guitar, too, but I am finding that J's acoustic songs sound really great on my ukulele.  This easy to play song is just a 3 chord trick: G-Am-C-G, with a different bit for the "Oh Baby, can't you see me, seeeeeeeeeeee meeeeee:" That part is D to C, then D to C to Am.  What a fun video, I know they must have had a good time making this little film!

6. Is It Done- J Mascis

This song on ukulele is my fun project for this weekend.  Playing the version of Breakdown with Jake Shimabukuro listed above made me think of this song, which I know will sound similarly beautiful on the ukulele.  Plus, I wanted to post this video here, too. <3  I love love love love love J Mascis's music, from the entire dinosaur jr catalog to J's powerful drumming with Witch , to- and especially, his acoustic stuff.  I have had SO MUCH FUN playing along with and learning from J on guitar, I am not sure why it has taken me this long to start playing his songs on ukulele. I sure am enjoying doing so!  J's first acoustic album, Live at CBGB, is what inspired me to finally (in my 30s) learn to play music myself.  I would listen to that album over and over and it would hurt how badly I wanted to be able to play along with him.  This video makes me go fan girl gaga.  Did I say how much I love J Mascis yet?

What are your favorite fun songs to play on ukulele?  Please comment and let us know!

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