UKULELE MUSING 2020, No. 29, 11 July 2020–A Song for Sequestered Times: “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”

Note: A couple of things about the YouTube videos that I include in my postings.  First, I don’t want to spend the money to purchase access to YouTube without ads.  So, from time to time you may see an ad for a few seconds before the intended content clicks in.  Alas, in these days of political scrums, its hard to tell just whose face will pop up. Sorry.  A penny saved is a penny earned.  And, from time to time a particular YouTube video might seem a bit too long for you busy folks out there.  Feel free to click it off when you want, hopefully after you have enjoyed the point I was trying to make by including it.  Sometimes less is really more! 

Also, I don’t mean to make light of the pandemic facing our world, nation, state, community, friends, and family. Sometimes, however, we need a bit more lightness than darkness and so, gentle readers, I muse on.

Now, on to this week’s posting . . .

With our days of sequestration now extending into months rather than weeks, I found myself looking for appropriate songs in our good old Yellow Book (“The Daily Ukulele,” by Liz and Jim Beloff) that would touch on the main topic of today.  Sitting at home, songbook on the stand in front of me and gazing out the window, it came to me: the song for these trying times, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”—a fact, not fake news! 

Talk about an easy choice for a musical musing!  Written as a lover’s lament, the song takes on a whole new meaning as we sit home by ourselves these days.

Anyway, this jazz standard was composed and recorded by Duke Ellington in 1940 and first titled “Never No Lament.”  The song was just one among many similar, moody, bluesy songs of the Ellington orchestra’s Harlem repertoire.  When songwriter Bob Russell added lyrics for the song in 1942, the name was changed and it soon became a national hit. In those days of loose copyrights and tiny royalties, it was played and recorded by just about everyone in the music business. 

It really became a “standard”—orchestral as well as male or female singers.

Let’s start with the 1942 Ellington version.  Tap or click on the next image for this. 

The other chart-topping rendition of the song, recorded in 1943, was by the widely listened to quartet, The Ink Spots.  Click or tap on the next image for a listen to their close harmony and distinctive style. 

Another great interpretation of the song—with some good illustrations for us—was recorded by the blues harmonica virtuoso “Big Walter” Horton in 1961.  Tap or click on the next image for this one.    

And, of course, for a song that has been around for nearly eighty years, many performers—both instrumental and vocal—have worked their own magic with this tune.  You don’t need to listen to the whole YouTube recording unless, like me, you get carried away.  But, here are a few of my good-for-being-sequestered favorites!

Stephane Grapelli on Gypsy Jazz Violin, tap or click: 

 A 1940s film version on some artificial beach, no less. Tap or click:

Willie Nelson Country/Western Version with his beat up guitar, tap or click:  

And, of course, a jazz ukulele instrumental, tap or click: 

So, stay safe, stay sequestered, and STAY TUNED!  But, as a bit of a sendoff, here are a couple of parody versions—as we might expect—of our song.  Stay smiling!

Let’s start with an up to the minute parody version, tap or click: 

 And, of course, a close harmony Zoom version, tap or click:    

Now if you would like to give this a try at home, hopefully not too much by yourself, here is a chord melody TAB version I put together a couple of years ago. It’s set up for a DGBE-tuned baritone (or sopranino) uke but you GCEA folks can simply follow the TAB numbers and it will be in the Key of C.

Oh yes, stay appropriately masked when tabbing or strumming!

And shirted!

More lightness than darkness, I hope!

Author: NohoBanjo of Northampton and, now, Easthampton, Mass.

Hi friends, neighbors, and fellow strummers. These “musings” are based on my interest and study of Banjo and Ukulele history, lore, and music. My goal is to both educate and enlighten by sharing what I have learned within a broad musical and historical context—with honesty and, at times, a bit of humor. Needless to say, your thoughts and comments are, as always, welcome.

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