Don’t Have a Blue Christmas

Image result for lonely christmas tree

Seasons Greetings! Here is an arrangement I made for Blue Christmas, that classic Elvis Christmas song that is guaranteed to cause all eyes to overflow in the old folks home.

I always use some embellishments that I derive from sliding up or down or over or just lifting one finger off the chord and back on, or adding one finger to a different string for one beat while holding down a chord. The effect I’m going for is a bluesy little slide sound.

I am fond of Gdim and G or G7, and I like to use Em7 with G7 or G. Depending on the song, sometimes I like to turn Am into the Hawaiian D7 by pressing down the second string in the second fret and lifting off, on and off, on and off.

I just found an arrangement of I’ll Be Home for Christmas that uses all of my tricks. You can download it here: I’ll Be Home For Christmas I believe I found it in one of the TBUS Christmas ukulele songbooks (Tampa Bay Uke Society).

And the secret to really making Blue Christmas sound nice and sweet is the smooth progression from the C major chord to the G minor chord. Many people like to avoid this chord and will go so far as to transpose the arrangement into a key with an easier chord to place in it’s place. It’s not always the best singing key though.

Today, I will take all that away by showing you one little trick to get you into position to make that Gm chord seem effortless and add that sweet minor sound to the song. Really, after you look at my cheat sheet you will wonder what you were ever worried about, LOL.

Gm Blue Christmas

The third song I am sharing today is an Eagles classic, Please Come Home For Christmas C. It’s in the Key of C. I used to hear this song on the radio station in Ottawa in the 80’s. I really loved it.

Enjoy your holidays!

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We’re Here for a Good Time!

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Truer words were never spoke!

It’s great when you get a couple of followers on your blog, totally shocking when one of them is in your ukulele group! So thank you LINDA for telling everyone about the website, I have gotten some nice compliments and great feedback. They seem to be enjoying downloading songs from here also, which was part of the game plan, LOL. The funny part for me was that I was so engrossed in the moment during uke group that I had a hard time figuring out what she was talking about, when suddenly it dawned on me and I was embarrassed. Why, I don’t know! I’m not tooting my own horn, I truly just want to share some great song arrangements with other ukulele enthusiasts.

That being said, here are 3 that I want to share. Moon Dance is a great song that Linda brought to our group. I have not rearranged it, I like it the way it is, there is a wonky part in the first chorus, but I haven’t listened to the song over the internet yet, so maybe that is the way the original goes and I just don’t remember – ha ha! The memory’s a funny thing, too!

The other two are We’re Here for a Good Time and Hallelujah, the alternate words. The arrangement is different from mine, too, because I never included the C/Am/C/Am at the end of the chorus. In my version I lean back on G7 before starting the next verse. Linda also brought us that song, and we are performing it Tuesday night at the Maple Manor in Tillsonburg for the residents there. We’re going to have Linda finger pick the Intro.

With respect, I wish each and every one of you a happy and safe Holiday, in case I don’t get back on here before New Year’s.

Moondance

We’re Here For a Good Time

Hallelujah Alternate

Ukulele Song Books Available

Greetings!

The following Ukulele Song Books are available for downloading, in PDF format, and arranged by me.

Cat’s Ukulele Songbook 1 (2016 Updated version)

2015 Songbook 2 (2016 Updated version)
Cat's Holiday Songs

Holiday Songbook 3

Hope you enjoy them, visit my site often and feel welcome to post a comment.

Thanks,

Cat Krestel Porritt

 

Wishing You All a Very, Merry Christmas

To all of you brave ukers who decided to follow my blog or sign up for notification emails, I thank you, and to the 690 of you out there who visited my site on September 22nd I want to say, “What? Really?” (Was that a special day or something?) LOL Anyway, I am posting today some of my favourite songs by some of my favourite groups, and/or from movies.

I hope you enjoy them like I do.

Hallelujah, by the Langley Ukulele Ensemble, from BC, Canada.

Mele Kalikimaka, from the movie Christmas Vacation:

A Charlie Brown Christmas (the Meaning of Christmas)

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, animated, 1966.

Have you ever wondered who that voice belonged to? A fella named Thurl Ravenscroft is credited as being the owner.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Cat

 

Cat’s Ukulele Holiday Song Book

Cat's Holiday SongsI finally finished compiling my favourite holiday and performance songs into one big document. I am very proud of this little song book to date. All of the Christmas and holiday songs I posted are in this song book, but the descriptions for strumming and other helpful hints are not included.

Holiday Songbook 3

I will write a couple of paragraphs below to help with some of the content.

A couple of days ago I posted a separate song sheet for additional Scottish verses for Auld Lang Syne. It turned out to be too small of a font for me so I retyped it out larger and added my choice of chords to it. You can print out the newer version here: Auld Lang Syne Scottish lyrics.

“Away in a Manger” is my favourite version of this sweet children’s Christmas song. It’s the version where you start up high and travel down: they refer to it as the “non-traditional” version.

The “Chipmunk Song”. This song is in 3/4 Timing, or Waltz Timing. The only thing I left off is the ending, whereby I strum 3 beats on the last G (instead of 4), then 3 beats on C minor and one ending Down strum on G.

For “Hallelujah”, it is probably best to go back and look at the post I wrote on it and view Brett McQueen’s how-to video.

“Mele Kalikimaka” is not in the traditional Key of F, and the strum is the traditional D Du uDu pattern.

I hope everyone has fun and enjoys these songs. If anyone has any other concerns or questions just fill in the comment section and I will answer you. Anyone just wanting to criticize my arrangements, needn’t bother, you know exactly what you can do with that….

 

Lang Syne + Lyrics

Recently, while looking around on the BUG website under Songbooks, Christmas, I discovered that there are a lot more lyrics to the “Auld Lang Syne” song. Cool. They are even half-decent to pronounce.

Enjoy!    Auld Lang Syne plus Lyrics

While looking for Christmas songs you might come across several on-line song books. You can find an extensive list at the BUG website:

http://www.bytownukulele.ca/Songbooks.aspx

In the past, one of the best Christmas song books that I have experienced with a group and for solo-ing is by the Seatle Ukulele Players. I am not sure if it is still available at their website, but you can get a download from the BUG site. It’s called SUPA. It has three huge pages of chord charts PLUS it has an entire page of key transposing, which is basically priceless.

There are several songs from that book I recommend. One is the “Chipmunk Song”. “Blue Christmas” is good because it has lots of embellishing chords. The only drawback may be that it is in F, and you might have a problem with G minor. If so, there are better arrangements elsewhere. (I like it in C, replacing the Gm with Dm.) Others I enjoy start from “The Christmas Song”, pages 11 to 16; “Holly Jolly” on 20; “I Want a Hippo” on 24; “Jingle Bell Rock”, 26; “Rudolph” on 32; “Santa Baby” on 34; “We Wish You/Christmas” on 40. “Winter Wonderland”, on page 42 is in the perfect key for me (I’m a soprano-alto singer).

Another good song book is Snowselele:  Snowselele_Version_1_11.

Another good one is this one with the little reindeer on each song, uke club unknown. They have an excellent “12 Days of Christmas” on page 22. The only clue I have is the website it originated from – ukuke.co.uk. I believe this is the U.K. Uke club, some kind of overall UK directory of all the clubs there?

Christmas Ukulele Song Book

SPECIAL OFFER! Happy Holidays & Ukulele ChristmasMy very favourite books are of course from Jumpin’ Jim Beloff and Flea Market Music. Right now you can get both of these books, around 50 Christmas songs arranged professionally with standard notation, chords and lyrics, for $25!

Go to http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/store/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=184 for more information.

Hope everyone has fun and shares free and good locations for Christmas and Holiday tunes!

 

Hallelujah

Yes, another 80’s song! High five!

Hallelujah was written by Leonard Cohen in 1980. A very famous and popular version was recorded on guitar in 1994 by Jeff Buckley.

A version by Rufus Wainright was used in the 2001 film Shrek, featuring (another Canadian) Mike Meyers. Other famous artists to cover this song include Jon Bon Jovi.

So this arrangement is intended for linear ukulele, which means it sounds better on an ukulele that has the low G string on it.

That’s what I use.

(Actually, I use both.)

Hallelujah linear

The video below is a really good instructional by Brett McQueen over at Ukulele Tricks, explaining how you can do two possible picking patterns, and how it fits together with the chords. I use a lot of his video’s both at his website and on youtube.

Brett’s website: http://www.ukuleletricks.com/ukulele-songs/

 

Another Auld Lang Syne

Here is another throw back to the 80’s, by Dan Fogelberg. Some say the lyrics of the song were the inspiration for the “cute meet” scene in the movie, He’s Just Not That Into You. That’s a rumour, so don’t quote me on it.

The song “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg is called a “cyclical song”, where the writer takes you through an event from start to finish. The album it comes off was considered cyclical in nature, called the Innocent Age, in 1981. The song was actually released in late 1980, but the album had not been released yet. There is some internet conjecture that it was not completed yet. Why the song was released ahead of time was not explained, but may have been a marketing ploy by the record company because the Innocent Age wound up going double platinum.

I’ve always loved this song. It starts out with nostalgia, revisiting the past and then ends with the present. The lyrics at the end, “and the snow, turned in.. to… rain……” manage to evoke two emotions at the same time. The beautiful whimsy of fresh falling snow, and the happy awe that it evokes, the positive feelings of snow associated with Christmas, turning into melancholy and sadness with the rain. And how he takes us from one sensation to the other from the beginning of the song to the very last words, from that moment back in time to the reality of now, exposing a deep longing that can never be satisfied, that unresolved ‘what if’ regarding the road not taken. Is genius.

And on top of it all, I managed to arrange the song in the same key! You can pretty much strum along to the song as you listen to it!

Same Old Lang Syne

 

 

 

Mother and Christmas

The role of mother at Christmas-time has often been overlooked, except in those instances of cooking the meal and baking up a storm. Most of the Christmas tunes are homages to a down-home or country Christmas – or aspects of Christmas, like a tree! And descriptions of the decor and food never acknowledge the person who did all that!

Sometimes mother is mentioned together with father, ie. and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again. And also in the song, “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas” because mommy and daddy are mad.

Heck, even Grandma got her own song!

So today I am posting two seemingly different songs but in each one mother plays the main role.

The first song is a tongue in cheek account of seeing mommy kissing “Santa Claus”, and is a blatant reference to who we all know plays the role of Santa Claus in the household as well.

The second one is about the best mother of all, Jesus’ mother, Mary! There are several songs about Mary. There’s “Mary Did You Know?”, “What Child is This?” etc.

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” was originally recorded by Jimmy Boyd on July 15, 1952 when he was just 13 years old. It was a #1 hit in December of 1952 and early 1953, and became a #3 hit in the UK when it was released there in November.

This is what I heard on the radio: the Roman Catholic Church banned this song, or basically condemned it, because it associated kissing with Christmas. And then Jimmy Boyd had to meet with someone high up in the religion to explain the lyrics of his recording to get the ban lifted. I guess this was important back in the day, but I can’t picture Elvis meeting with an Archbishop to apologize for his hip gyrations!

Many artists recorded versions of this song over the years, from the Jackson 5 to Amy Winehouse. So many are worthy of mentioning here but it would be an incredibly long list, so I am just going to say that the rock ‘n’ roll version by John Cougar Mellancamp is probably my favourite.

I Saw Mommy

Jimmy Boyd

Jimmy Boyd was a musician at an early age. His grandfather was known as “Fiddler Bill” and their entire family was involved with music, especially since his father, Leslie had over 20 siblings! From the age of 5 Jimmy was taught guitar and harmonica, and by this time Leslie had already removed his wife and children from Mississippi over to California in pursuit of better employment and quality of life. By the time Jimmy was 7 he could perform country songs on stage. At a local country music dance he was discovered by a radio station promoter and was given a slot on Saturday nights, and was also paid $50 a week! Jimmy went on to win talent shows and even landed an audition to perform a comedy skit with Frank Sinatra on his television show. What a remarkably talented young man, who eventually made an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, which led to appearing on Perry Como’s show, the Doris Day Show,  the Bing Crosby Show, the Bob Hope Show, and others including American Bandstand. Boyd ended up being signed by Columbia Records, who wanted him to sing pop songs, but his roots were deep in the country genre. By the time he recorded “I Saw Mommy” he was already a seasoned performer!

After experiencing mediocre results with songs by Miller for Columbia for a number of years, Jimmy ended up recording independently with the legendary Percy Faith and had a hit with “Jambalaya”, moved into producing songs for movies where he met, worked with and became friends with Bobby Darin. He was also a dedicated actor and had recurring roles in television series such as My Three Sons. He appeared in numerous Hollywood movies as both a starring and supporting actor and worked with such remarkable artists as Betty White, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Mickey Rooney.

Jimmy Boyd was the youngest person ever to perform on stage as a musical headliner in Las Vegas, often returning to the stage for three or more encores. He also did stand-up comedy to sold-out crowds from the age of 16 onwards. He only just passed away in our century at the age of 70 in 2009. He was known for embracing modernism as well, and his roots in social responsibility ran deep. After being drafted into the army in 1960 but being stationed stateside, he took his own show to Vietnam in 1965 for the USO. He also joined Nancy Sinatra’s USO show trip to South Vietnam to entertain American troops there.

Boney M 

Boney M was a vocal group formed by a German record producer in 1976, of Jamaican-born Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett, Maizie Williams from Montserrat, and Bobby Farrell (an exotic dancer) from Aruba. They achieved popularity during the disco era of the late 1970’s, and were known for their rigorous touring appearances in disco’s and clubs, and risqué stage attire. This picture represents their look most accurately at that time.

Their biggest hit came in 1978 with “Rivers of Babylon”, followed by “Rasputin”. Their hit “Mary’s Boy Child” in November of 1978 was the biggest grossing Christmas tune of 1978 in both the UK and the US, and was their most successful hit. Of interest to note: their German producer and c0-song writer was none other than Frank Farian, the notorious singer-song-writer/producer behind the infamous lip-synching duo Milli Vanilli of 80’s. The main singers for the group were Liz and Marcia. In a bizarre twist of legal fate, years after the group disbanded they were each awarded the rights to perform as “Boney M” in a court ruling by a judge. That meant that each member could tour and perform as “Boney M” with group members of their own choosing, and some of them did this late into the 1990’s, even at the same time!

Mary’s Boy Child” is a unique blend of island sound with “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”, a traditional church hymnal. What I love is how many Caribbean and island nations put their own sound into Christian songs. These songs are almost always very celebratory: happy, positive and uplifting. The original recording was “Mary’s boy Child – O My Lord”, so I am giving that nod to you purists reading this, but at some point the “O My Lord” part was dropped and that’s how I remember it, so that is what you’ll find in my arrangement.

Below the song is a youtube vid of Liz Mitchell performing on stage at a Christmas musical. I don’t know where because the creds are in German.

Marys Boy Child

A Cup of Kindness

I must be in the mood!!!

Today’s song is Auld Lang Syne. I just asked my husband, I said, “What the heck does lang syne mean, anyway?” And he said he thinks “auld lang syne” means days of yore. Awesome. What?

I looked it up.

The music and lyrics of Auld Lang Syne were first published in Scotland in 1787. In Scotland, this song is traditionally sung on Burns Night, held on January 25th, to commemorate the life and times of poet and author Robert Burns. He was known as “the Bard” of Scotland.

The words “we’ll take a cup of kindness yet” refer to sharing a drink between men and women in love and friendship. “Auld lang syne” means the oldest best times, such as your fondest memories. This makes it very fitting for a New Year’s Eve dance or party.

So I’ve worked out an arrangement for soprano uke, based on what was available in a more simple format over the internet. Lately, I’ve been putting the starting chord in brackets in my arrangements, because one of the problems I have with a song with no Intro is I can’t find the notes to start on before we hit that main chord on the third or fourth word. Putting a starting chord in brackets will ensure that you don’t assume the song is in that Key. It’s just to help you get started, if you don’t feel like vamping on the main chord of the Key or doing no chording.

See? It’s optional!!

Auld Lang Syne