Avalon (1920) on ukulele

Well, Admiral Podmore has been defeated (so Warcraft III can be mothballed), and so I present to you, by way of celebration, “Avalon”.

A new video to go with my book in progress, “The Social Life of the Ukulele”.

Published in: on March 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Swanee (1919)

A quick chord solo…

Published in: on June 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rose of Washington Square (on ukulele) 1920

The Rose of Washington Square was introduced by Ms Fanny Brice during the Mid-Night Follies. The title of this song also became the title of a movie musical, featuring Tyrone Power, Alice Faye and Al Jolson. Apparently, the plot of the film was so similar to the events of the life of Ms Brice that she took offence (she hadn’t been asked) and sued 20th Century Fox, Mr Power and Ms Faye (for their representation of Fanny’s former husband and herself) — for $750 000, according to the Ottawa Citizen of 15 July 1939. She also sued Mr Jolson (just because he was there — she never liked him; in her early days on the stage, his show stopping often stopped her going on at all). For his part in the film, Al was only getting $6000 a week, and the occasional smile from Ms Faye — not enough in his view (Evening Independent, 7 Feb 1939).

The song has two versions of the words, the nice and the not so nice.

Version 1:

They call me Rose, of Washington Square
A flower so fair, Should Bloom where the sunshines Rose,
for nature did not mean — That you should blush unseen
But be queen of some fair garden Rose
I’ll never depart, But dwell in your heart
Your love to care — I’ll bring the sunbeams from the heavens to you
And give you kisses that sparkle with dew My Rose
of Washington Square.

Version 2:

They call me Rose of Washington Square
I’m withering there. In basement air I’m fading, Pose,
with or without my clothes. They say that my Roman Nose
It seems to please artistic people Beaux
I’ve plenty of those. With seconded hand clothes,
And nice long hair..
I’ve got those Broadway vampires lashed to the mast
I’ve got no future but Oh! what a past I’m Rose
Of Washington Square!

Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 11:50 am  Comments (2)  
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You made me love you (1913) on ukulele

Published in: on September 11, 2010 at 7:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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Waiting for the Robert E Lee (1912) on ukulele

A old tune by Lewis F Muir (1883 — 1915), and it was first sung professionally by Al Jolson (at least, that’s what Eddie Cantor said). Apparently Muir could only play piano in one key (but did so very well) just like Irving Berlin. They both used a piano with a key changing ‘gadget’. Muir died young from tuberculosis.

Published in: on July 23, 2010 at 6:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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April Showers on ukulele

Published in: on July 3, 2010 at 9:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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Ukuleles that I’ve never seen…

The Music Trade Review of 3 October 1925 ran an advertisement for three new ukuleles from the Progressive Musical Instrument Corp. — they were … (and I’m only reporting what they said in 1925) … “the Al Jolson ‘Big Black Boy’ ukulele, the Eddie Cantor ‘Golden Tone’ ukulele, and the ‘Ukulele Ike’ Cliff Edwards ‘Own’ ukulele.” 

The first of these instruments was the Edwards ukulele made in two models and dealers acclaimed it the greatest hit in ukulele history. Each bears Cliff’s autographed trade-mark. They achieved immediate popularity. Following these numbers with the other two models bearing the endorsement of two of the world’s greatest musical comedy stars, names known to all theatre goers and phonograph record buyers. Progressive dealers are now recognizing these instruments as a wonderful business-getting combination.

I’ve never heard anyone anywhere (except in the MTR) refer to these instruments. A quick google has revealed nothing … except this so far.

Reproduced courtesy of The International Arcade Museum and the Musical Box Society International.

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 10:20 pm  Comments (5)  
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Buddy DeSylva: encouragement for the incorrigible ukulele player

Buddy DeSylva, part of the famous DeSylva, Henderson and Brown song writing team of the 1920s, missed out on a college education because of his ukulele playing — and it was a college professor’s daughter who taught him to play.

According to an article in Life magazine (30 December 1940, page 52), DeSylva’s academic career was ruined because he preferred to spend his days singing his own compositions to young ladies at the beach, accompanying himself on the ukulele. A talent scout spotted him, offered him $60 a week as an Hawaiian (?) entertainer, which, after only a brief delay, he accepted. He met Al Jolson at the night club, was taken by Al to New York, sold his first song, and his first royalty check was for $16000. He was 22 years old (1917), and he never looked back.

Of course, he had talent.

Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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