UKULELE MUSING 2020–21 November 2020, No. 49: “Lonely Until We Meet Again With Absent (For a While) Friends”

As the election/transition hoopla continues, I am sure that many of us would like to settle our minds and begin—just begin—to focus on the end-of-the-year “festivities” heading our way. The next event is, of course, Thanksgiving Day. 

Alas for many of us, the lonely bubbles and pods we find ourselves sequestered in will preclude the cherished chance to be within hugging distance of faraway friends and family.

We’ll just have to share turkey and trimmings by Zoom, FaceBook, Skype, or that good old-fashioned device–the telephone! Alas, alone and, needless to say, lonesome. 

So, for this musing I’m going to, shall we say, “face the music” and focus on a few songs that touch on those nasty words of “lonely,” “alone,” “lonesome,” and others of their ilk.  I’ll end on an upbeat, however, with a couple of the great songs of being together again. Gotta do it! And, with an emphasis, gentle readers, on our favorite little musical instrument–the cheerful ukulele!

Moving on.

Pining for absent friends and family has long been a musical tradition in America with people and populations moving here, there, and everywhere.  We come from many places, move to many others, and long to return–if only for a little while. It’s no wonder, then, that the “lonely” theme–family, friends, lovers–has permeated music and song almost forever! Let’s look at some song titles from years past. There must be hundreds. Here are just a sadly appropriate few.

We almost always think “Elvis” when we hear this song but it goes way back in musical history–over ninety years ago.

Check out this early recording for a lonesome change of pace. Click or tap on the next image or link to listen to this non-Elvis oldie!

Moving along . . .

We can really get into some tearjerkers here. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” is one of the most plaintive of Hank Williams’ songs written and recorded way, way before the days of pandemic sequestration.

Click or tap on the next image or link to hear Hank himself. You’ll need a hankie for this one!

To give equal time, here’s another “lonely” classic.

Tap or click on the next image or link, grab another hankie, and listen to Patsy Cline’s heartbreaking rendition from the 1950s!

As an aside–more in the line of “thinking about” rather than “lonely”– whenever I mix a cocktail (or mocktail) of an evening, I always add an extra drop or two of spirits to the glass for “absent friends.”  A bittersweet reminder to me of those far away. I digress, but it does let me insert another ukulele picture from my collection!  

Oh yes, my favorite banjolele whiskey decanter! 

Now, let’s move on to hopefully sunnier days when we can all be together again! Will it happen? How? When?

And, of course, optimism. WE WILL MEET AGAIN!

Wartime was always a time of seemingly endless partings and meetings and songs often touched on this melancholy chord. Wartime? Pandemic? The same sentiment sings to us today.

I mused about this next song a couple of years ago, mostly in the context of World War II music and how it became a sing-along standard in music halls and theaters in both the UK and US in those lonely days.   

The late Vera Lynn made this her signature song of hope throughout the war years but it has been covered by many, many folks in a lot of styles.  For a different take on this song, here’s a recording by the Ink Spots.  Click or tap on the next image or link to listen to their close harmonies.

This song is also in our Yellow Book and we should give it a try “some sunny day.” For musical inspiration, here’s a ukulele instrumental of this one. Click or tap on the next image for some really nice fingerpicking.

Here is one of the oldest “meet again” songs–originally from the World War I era–that has become a pop, jazz, and gospel standard.

Click or tap on the next image for more close harmony singing, gospel style!

So, enough thoughts of loneliness and absent friends. Let’s dwell on the thought of meeting again–while, of course, enjoying a sequestered Thanksgiving Day this year in anticipation of non-sequestered ones to come!

Stay safe . . .

stay masked . . .

Keep your sense of humor . . .

And STAY TUNED!

Author: NohoBanjo of Northampton, Mass.

Hi 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. These are my personal thoughts, not those of any group or sponsor. Needless to say, your thoughts and comments are, as always, welcome.

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