Note: If this pic needs an explanation, you are not a ukulele strummer. If still puzzled, go ask a strummer. If no strummer is available, you are missing out on one of the best things of life!
Well, here we are half way through my weekly musings of 2020 (number 26 of 52!) and the calendar has rolled around to another Father’s Day as of this Sunday. All of us who have or have had fathers can muse on their influence on our lives, at least our musical lives. So, as my annual musical homage to my father, click or tap on the next image to hear a ukulele version of the first song he ever taught me.
My father, despite his pride in the fact that he was a Field Artillery officer, could only sort of hum this tune and he readily admitted that, when it came to music, the “only thing he could play was the radio.”
And, play the radio he did. He built a crystal set for himself in his teens and, in the 1920s (high school), 1930s (college and first jobs), and 1940s (army) listened t0 and knew all the bands and songs played on the air. We sat around the radio at home and, of course, in the car–AM, of course.
To say that I grew up absorbing the big band/bouncy/bluesy sounds of these musical eras on the omnipresent home and car radio is an understatement. Needless to say, my musical listening proclivities were formed as my little ears grew into bigger ones.
This was his gift to me so bear with me, gentle readers, if my musings focus on those “oldies” (to you) but “goodies” (to me.) After all, it is Fathers’ Day and, like many of you, I am a father and, like a few of you, a grandparent. So, indulge me.
Now, back to the ukulele theme! Fathers (not mine, alas) often eased their offspring into musical directions by strumming on—or at least giving a child—a ukulele and “showing them which end to blow into!” Kidding, of course.
Some kids embraced our favorite little instrument and kept their fascination through teenage years and adulthood. Look around you! Alas, others moved on to screaming heavy metal electric guitar sounds. (With apologies to our friends at Northampton’s own Downtown Sounds!)
But, fatherly influence is all important, including from the “Father of Our Country!”
Moving on. Not much in the way of “father” or “dad” ukuleles out there but, still . . .
Continuing on to tunes. Needless to say there is a plethora of “Daddy” music out there from the sweet to the maudlin . . .
Give a listen to this old tearjerker by that “singing cowboy” himself, Gene Autry. Click or tap on the next image for a treat.
Here is the Ultimate World War I “Daddy song.” Click or tap on the next image to hear an original recording.
I wish I could find the suggestive lyrics to this one. Alas, I must search on!
. . . and then there’s that perversion of the word “Daddy” into the torchy, tinted (but not really off-color) slang of the day.
Here’s this one by Marilyn herself. Click or tap on the next image to hear (and see) her in action!
Here’s a torchy version of this “daddy song” from the 1920s. Click or tap on the next image to give a listen.
Tap or click on the next image to hear a gentle, jazzy version of this tune from 1929.
Oh yes, we can’t for get the “Papa” songs either.
Here’s this childish novelty tune of the 1920s. Click or tap on the next image to sing along.
Here’s an early recording of this bluesy song performed by Bessie Smith. Click or tap on the next image to hear her voice.
And, of course, the novelty songs about fathers or even grandfathers. Don’t we have fun!
Seek and ye shall find! Click or tap on the next image for this one.
Believe it or not but I actually found a ukulele version of this one! Click or tap on the next image to hear that great ukulele interpreter of old tunes, Janet Klein.
Here are a few more rather curious sheet music covers of the day. Alas, again, no lyrics for these yet!
And then there’s this golden oldie.
Tap or click on the next image to look at–not listen to–a silent vaudeville dance routine based on this tune. Weird but fun!
Now we have some lyrics!
Here’s a ukulele version of this country/western chestnut of a song. Tap or click on the next image to listen in and try to follow the convoluted lyrics.
I have to digress from my wanderings among those many “Daddy” songs of yesteryear to a more contemporary one. Alas, I must admit that I do this from time to time, but I do believe it’s important (ahem) from a musicological as well as historical perspective. Pardon the language, but this is a great homage to a fascinating father and worth a listen on this special day. Click or tap on the next image for a good ole country music look at a real “Daddy!“
So, to all you fathers out there–good or bad ***– and to all of you who have or have had fathers, grandfathers, dads, papas, and—in various interpretations—”Daddies,” a happy, safe, sequestered Fathers’ Day this year for you and yours!
So, remember dear old Dad, keep that mask on, keep your distance, keep on strumming, and STAY TUNED!
And, if you can, give dear old dad, grandpa, “Daddy” or whatever a great big kiss!