365 DotU, Day 62: Absurd and Morbid

As I contemplated adding some Tom Waits to my cover repertoire, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to try a traditional tune that shares a name with the Waits song I had in mind: “The Last Rose of Summer.” It’s a really beautiful song, and there are dozens of interesting versions of it — the Celtic Woman one is the most common on the internet recently, but I much prefer either old-school Clannad or (best of all, if you ask me) Nina Simone. In fact, it was a chance iPod shuffle through the Nina Simone version that reminded me of both the traditional tune and the Tom Waits song. I decided to try it, but I didn’t want to use the big, bad schmaltz, and I didn’t want to break out the fiddles to create a string arrangement (lazy, lazy me), so I fell back on my old weirdo arrangement friend, the ukulele.

I really must come up with a name for that ukulele. It seems to need a name, now.

The funny thing about the version I came up with is that I ended up doing an absurdly cheery ukulele accompaniment for lyrics that, to be perfectly honest, are horribly, horribly morbid (and yet somehow weirdly uplifting, in a way that seems peculiar to Irish music). I like the effect — it’s sort of sweet and creepy and chipper at the same time.

Ukulele!

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About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. Otherwise, I labor to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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