View Full Version : 10 "MUST KNOW" ukulele tunes

Jacman Rasta Bicycle
10-22-2013, 06:26 AM
just trying to get opinions on the 10 "must know" ukulele songs that any ukulele play should know how to play.

10-22-2013, 06:33 AM
Ask 10 different players you'll get 10 different answers.

It depends on the style of music you play. As a folk musician I am not really interested in playing many of the Jazz standards a lot of people will come up with.

10-22-2013, 06:50 AM
All depends on the music you like. Oldies, Classical, Rock, Hawiian...etc.

10-22-2013, 06:57 AM
As long as it includes Inna Gadda Davida, you will be fine.

10-22-2013, 09:23 AM
I would hope you'd get 10 different answers from everyone. If not, when people see us coming with a uke, the eyes will roll and they'll suddenly have something urgent to do.

There are a lot of fun basic easy and moderately easy songs of course, and many will be common to a lot of players, but I'd hope folks will develop their own set of favorites from their own personal tastes. I'd also hope they change from time to time...playing the same song over and over forever after you're tired of it is something that a lot of professionals have to deal with, but those of us who play for fun can drop old favorites and pick up new ones as often as we like, which keeps it fun and challenging.

10-22-2013, 11:00 AM
Nobody's listed anything yet.

My list is eclectic, but it's mine. Listed in no particular order.

"All My Loving" - I'd wanted to be a Beatle since, well, seeing A Hard Day's Night when I was very young. Being able to play some of my favorite Beatles songs was a primary motivation for learning to play a stringed instrument.

"Across The Universe" - Another one of my favorite Beatles songs.

IZ's "Over The Rainbow/Wonderful World" - A trite selection perhaps, but when I began playing four years ago, this song seemed to be everywhere and it was sort of the "popular music" face of the ukulele. I also thought that if people knew I played the ukulele, it'd be a song that would get requested a lot.

"Ke Aloha" - My search for group ukulele lessons led me to a Hawaiian music class, where I learned to play two of the most basic Hawaiian strums by learning to play "Puamana" and "Waikaloa." "Ke Aloha" is one of my favorite Hawaiian songs.

"Tip Toe Through The Tulips" - I know, it plays into the whole "Tiny Tim ruined the ukulele in the 60s" thing. Because so many people associate it with the ukulele, though, I thought it would be a good song to learn.

"Come Monday" - I remember how much I loved this song when it first came out when I was in college, although I don't remember why. It's one of the songs I promised myself I'd learn if I ever played a stringed instrument. It's not a "must-play-on-the-ukulele" song per se, and, in fact, I prefer playing it on a tenor guitar, but I learned it on the ukulele and being able to play it at all has brought me a lot of joy.

"Donald and Lydia" and "Hello In There" - My girlfriend in college introduced me to the music of John Prine and these were two of her favorites. The original lyrics of "Donald and Lydia" are a tad un=PC (I've changed the lyrics to reflect that Lydia is shy instead of fat), but there's a beautiful simplicity to these songs that has given me a new appreciation for Prine as a songwriter, these two songs have great sentimental value, and I've been using "Hello In There" to practice fingerpicking techniques.

"Adios Ke Aloha" - Learning to play the ukulele has opened up a world of Hawaiian culture to me. This song, in which the song's protagonist realizes that he has lost a love he may never have had to begin with, has become a recent favorite, probably due to extenuating circumstances.

"Wahini Ilikea," "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and "Brown-Eyed Girl" - I've become a big fan of Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, a prolific Hawaiian songwriter and slack key guitarist who writes beautiful songs. I sometimes attend a monthly Kanikapila in Alameda, California (near Oakland). Whenever we play "Wahini Ilikea," we invariably segue into both "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and "Brown-Eyed Girl," which have very similar chord structures. Three great songs at once!

I realize I may not have answered the question the OP asked, but these are among the songs that are most important to me as an ukulele player.

10-22-2013, 11:13 AM
I found mine would be

Wagon Wheel-OCMS it helps with the E chord
Margaritaville-Just good ole SOng
I Will Wait-Mumford and Sons
Island Style-John Cruz
Brown Eyed Girl-Van Morrison
Ukulele Lady-who ever sang that, Bette Midler??
Love Potion #9-The Coasters
Drop Baby Drop-Man'o Company
Hawaiian War Chant-Johnny Noble
Puamana-Irmgard Farden Aluli

Those would be mine some popular and some Hawaiian as well....

10-22-2013, 11:19 AM
MDS and Glass played, so I'll play, too! (in alphabetical order)

12 bar blues - Someday that handsome stranger with an amazing singing voice will hear you start, and the evening will be unforgettable.

The Fox - The fox went out on a chilly night, with only three chords, he did alright, with many songs to play that night before he reached the town-o, town-o, town-o... I think everyone should know at least one "campfire song" for when there are children about.

Imagine - Not too hard on the uke, very pretty, and it is nice to know a pretty song that has positive associations to the baby boomer set.

Love Potion Number Nine - You need a 50s song, and this one is complicated enough to show off a bit, and still easy enough. Glass has taste!

The Lumberjack Song (G G C C D-D7 C-G-C) - Everyone wants to sing along to a song about a lumberjack who wears women's clothes.

Monster Mash - G Em C D (With C D C D for the "Zombies were having fun verse") and you now have everybody happy from August through the end of October.

Octopus’s garden - MDS was right; you need a Beatle's song. This one allows you to have some strumming fun.

Pictures of Matchstick Men - my personal favorite song to play; I don't have the heart to cut it from the list.

Sweet Georgia Brown - You need something that lets you strum very quickly.

Tiptoe through the tulips - For the reasons MDS cited

Waltzing Matilda - You need at least one song that lets you sing with an accent.

10-22-2013, 02:36 PM
Ukulele Lady-who ever sang that, Bette Midler??

I know Bette covered it, but when I think of "Ukulele Lady" I think of Arlo Guthrie.
Arlo Guthrie covered "Ukulele Lady" on one of his albums, I believe it was the same album with the cover of "City of New Orleans" on it. Guthrie would also do "Ukulele Lady" in concert; I saw him several times in the 70's and that was always part of his set.

10-22-2013, 02:39 PM
Ukulele Lady-who ever sang that, Bette Midler??

It was originally recorded in 1926 by Vaughn De Leath, who I've read absolutely hated the song (and hated being called the "Ukulele Lady"!).

Jacman Rasta Bicycle
10-22-2013, 02:43 PM
thanks for the replies (so far). i realize that asking for a list will net me various responses, which is a good thing.

10-22-2013, 04:14 PM
I don't have a list of 10 yet but I like

"Raindrops keep fallin on my head"
"Fly me to the moon"
"Beyond the Sea"
"Close to You" but I typically mess with the lyrics.
"Love me tender" pick pattern, not strum. Can also swap out with "Are you lonesome tonight?"
"Tiptoe through the Tulips"

I'm definitely going to look up some of the previously listed ones.

10-22-2013, 04:29 PM
Tonight you belong to me - The Jerk
The Cowboy Song - Joe Versus the Volcano
I'll See You In My Dreams - Joe Brown from A Concert for George
While My Guitar Gently Weeps - Jake's 12 million+ view video
Somewhere over the rainbow - IZ
Build Me Up Buttercup - Julia Nunes
Blister In The Sun - Violent Femmes
If I Had You - Nellie McKay
Meditation - Nellie McKay
Stray Cat Strut - The Stray Cats

10-22-2013, 05:23 PM
Well, I guess it was just a matter of time before someone brought up SOTR and Weeps. :rolleyes:

I'm not Jake and I'm not Iz, so those are songs I don't really want to play in their style just because people know them.

10-22-2013, 06:04 PM
Just play Honolulu Baby 10 times.

10-22-2013, 08:01 PM
I am new to the uke scene and only have one more week to wait til I buy my first, but am eager to learn a few of the following:

white sandy beach
no woman no cry(might be too much for a beginner)
maggie's farm
all my loving
a change is gonna come
save the last dance for me
love is all around
blitzkrieg bop
after last week, red solo cup(guilty pleasure!)

10-22-2013, 09:58 PM
I like
"Moonlight Bay"
"Sentimental Journey"
"The Last Time I saw Paris"

all songs from my early life
and the styles and rhythms of music back then just seem to go with the ukulele

10-23-2013, 12:43 AM
Ain't Misbehavin'
Side by Side
On the Sunny Side of the Street
Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue
Ain't She Sweet
The Way You Look Tonight
Shine on Harvest Moon
All of Me
Swinging on a Star

10-23-2013, 01:20 AM
Definitely 'Ukulele Lady' (I like Arlo Guthrie's version, and Frank Crumit's).
I'd like to learn a few Sol Hooppi's song (I Like You, Hula Girl, Ten Tiny Toes)
Some songs from the 20s or earlier (Singin' In the Bathtub, ...)
Hawaiian cowboy songs
Mainland cowboy songs (Buffalo Gals, Red River Valley, Home on the Range, Back in the Saddle Again)
Irish tunes and songs
Old timey ...

10-23-2013, 03:11 AM
Still very much a beginner but these are mine:

-Stand by me
-Octopus's Garden
-Tip Toe Through the Tulips (I try my darnedest not to sound like Tiny Tim)
-Georgia on my Mind
-On the Road Again (Gotta have at least one Willie Nelson song)
-Count on Me (Bruno Mars)
-Monster Mash (I'm glad someone else listed this too, so I'm not embarrassed by how much I love this song)
-Tennessee Waltz

10-23-2013, 04:01 AM
save the last dance for me

That one is really fun to play!

10-23-2013, 06:04 AM
Don't know about must know, but my "Go to" list...

All my Life's a Circle
Feelin' Groovy
For What It's Worth
Hotel California
House of The Rising Sun
It's a Heartache
Knee Deep
Mr. Bojangles
Sea of Love
Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World
Stand by Me
Summer Wine (if you have a duet partner)
26 Miles
Walking after Midnight

I know, that's more than 10 and I don't "know" them, any of them by heart. Need sheet music always! I've never been good at remembering lyrics, let alone lyrics AND chords!

10-23-2013, 06:47 AM
Here's a couple more that haven't been mentioned:

Heart and Soul – (it’s in Daily Uke Vol 1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVJYN7ZYA0Y

E Ku’u Moring Dew - traditional http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LzEN-t1BV8

Blue Red and Grey – Pete Townshend http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqWP7uDsjPo

Dream a little Dream – Cass Elliot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SfQVoMGxfw

Only You - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEf2jRe50K4

Pencil Thin Moustache – Jimmy Buffet

The Monkey and the Engineer – Grateful Dead

Five Ways
10-23-2013, 07:40 AM
Massive choices hundreds of them for me quite simple I love playing Ken middletons tabs, I share the same styles of music as Ken and have played many of the tunes on guitar and mando over the years.
Yeh thanks Ken love the bluegrass e book as well as the free tabs.

10-23-2013, 07:44 AM
Okay, if you're going to play "Tiptoe through the Tulips," you really, really need to start with the introduction. When you start playing the song with its (original?) introductory lyrics/chords, people don't know the song but then they really smile when they hear it go into the part they all have heard (whether from Tiny Tim or someone else). It makes this song lots nicer and I've found folks listening enjoy it because they're surprised by how the "whole thing" sounds.

I'm attaching a .jpg of the full song sheet. Here's a YouTube of Nick Lucas singing it (he charted #1 with it in 1929). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6_EAnFlv70


Jacman Rasta Bicycle
10-24-2013, 08:57 PM
great tunes everyone, thanks for replying.
a GOLD STAR to UKALADY TONYA for the song sheet and the cool link. :cool: