I’ve discovered a habit: if I can’t make it work on the 6 (guitar) or the 4 (tenor), I can make it work on the uke (or at least I’m happy to tell myself this).
Example: Today’s song, “I Wouldn’t Mind,” from Duncan Sheik‘s last pre-Broadway success studio album, “White Limousine” (2006). It’s not really a guitar song at all, although the guitar’s there for accents and flavor, as is a piano — it’s mostly strings (you know, violins, violas, etc.) and vocal, and it’s really quite pretty. Once upon a time, in a fit of mad ambition, I imagined trying to reproduce the string arrangement, at least in part, and accent with a guitar — I actually did have most of it figured out. It was just so much damn work that I gave up on it in favor of other things.
Then, along came the ukulele, and inspiration hit: why not uke it?
Problem: replicating the original rhythm played by the fiddles of various sizes in the track as recorded just didn’t sound good. I had to come up with something else.
So I did.
Other problem: I had to reverse engineer some chords to play from the pizzicato bits. THAT was a pain in the butt, let me tell you — I actually figured it out on the tenor guitar first, and then found that it sounded a bit more pleasant on the uke.
I just ran the video and sound off my Q3 Zoom, so it isn’t anything to write home about, but it still felt oddly natural. I ended up liking the result more than I thought I would. I still miss the grand drama of the original string arrangement, but I’m sort of fond of how the ukulele version I came up with fell together. It turned out sweet and quiet, which was how I was feeling that day anyway.