Saturday, October 2, 2010

Potent Mood Lifter

I was playing my ukulele this morning as my wife departed for a day of door-to-door re-election campaigning.

She said, “That is such a happy instrument! I love that ukulele!”

I love my uke, too. It is a potent mood lifter.

When I feel the least bit blue, I grab a ukulele, tune it, strum, and sing out. By some divine magic the ukulele lifts up my spirits and also the spirits of everyone within earshot, even bugs.

Last weekend one of my ukebuds and I carpooled down to San Francisco to add our voices to an immense chorus of ukesters aiming happily to sing our place into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest group of ukulele players ever assembled.

We met many new ukulele friends, all of them happy, and none of them, as far as I could tell, a whole lot better than us——a little bit above beginner.

We saw the movie “The Mighty Uke” and strummed together and sang. Here’s a picture of me taken by Andy Andrews who is one of the “stars” of the movie and of the ukulele movement. 

Alas, the world record remains unbroken, but we went home happier than we came. Ukuleles do that.

The ukulele was born more than 140 years ago in the Kingdom of Hawaii as it fell into the strengthening clutches of the U.S. Empire. The ukulele surely helped the Hawaiians cope with depression.

Now the ukulele is born again, growing in popularity as steeply as the United States descends in its manufacturing sector—weaponry of mass destruction excepted. (I, for one, am deeply ashamed to say this, but we Americans can’t crow about our health care system, our public transportation system, our care for the homeless, or our public education, but we got some really fancy weapons of mass destruction, and we've used them before.)

As we languish in our moribund empire, the ukulele’s resurgent popularity is surely an echo of its original birth in Hawaii.

We better sing some songs about peace!

Here’s one of my uke buds singing a classic uke tune.

Here’s a link to a story about our Adventure in San Francisco


Von said...

Not really room on a uke for the motto Woody had on his guitar hey?

Dan Gurney said...

Hey Von, the motto I've seen on the uke is this:

Music self played


Happiness self made.

Lori ann said...

Hi Dan,
I know just what you mean about the ukulele. Although i never learned to play, i did learn to appreciate very much. When I lived in Hawaii in the 70's and 80's i found a beautiful old uke at a flea market. I bought it because i thought it was so nice. And kept it for the same reason.
It's come to light that it's very collectible (can't remember the name off hand) and i've been offered a lot for it. But i don't want to sell it, i've heard it played (by hawaiian friends).
I'm so happy to see the ukulele becoming revived. It's great your a part of that.

Ruth said...

This makes sense in a beautiful freeing way. More to me today because just last night before bed I began reading Zorba the Greek, and in the opening Zorba brings out his santuri, the instrument that he says about, "When I'm feeling down, or when I'm broke, I play the santuri and it cheers me up."

Dan Gurney said...

Lori ann, I hope you'll encounter the right set of circumstances to give playing the uke a try. It's really fun. Making music is something we should do for ourselves, like baking bread.

Dan Gurney said...

Ruth, I'd forgotten that about Zorba! And yet when you reminded me of it, I can remember how important music was to him. (I read the book back in the 60's in high school and it really had an impact on me.)

Dan Gurney said...

Oh, for those who don't know about Woody's guitar. He wrote in big letters: "This machine kills Fascists."

My response to that sort of sentiment is that killing fascists (or even thinking about killing them) makes us a whole lot more like fascists.

Fascists don't need to be killed; they need to be loved. They're fascists precisely because they're love-deprived. The job of us ukesters is to bring more happiness and love into the world.

So, as much as I like Woody's songs, I don't go along with him on that one.

Sabio Lantz said...

Do you have a post with links about where to buy Ukes, what you recommend etc? Are there electric Ukes?
Thank you

Dan Gurney said...

Sabio, there are many good ukes out there. I like Kala brand ukes. My favorite is a solid lacewood tenor that I bought from Ebay dealer musicguymic. But I didn't buy it online; I met him at the Wine Country Ukulele festival. I wanted to hold and play it before buying, that's why.