Monday, July 07, 2008

A Beach Boy And Some Ukuleles


“I don’t know why everybody doesn’t live at the beach, on the ocean. It makes no sense to me, hanging around the dirty city. That’s why I always loved and was proud to be a Beach Boy; I always loved the image. On the beach you can live in bliss.”

Dennis Wilson's sentiment adds some weight to the views of those who argue that he was the only Beach Boy who really was a Beach Boy - more so than the old chestnut that, unlike the rest of the band, he could actually surf.

I've been letting the magnificent 2 CD Pacific Ocean Blue "Legacy Edition" wash over me like the waves I'm missing, and I'm finding it an altogether marvelous experience. Dennis, where have you been all my life?

Mention the ukulele to a certain generation here in GB, and two words will shortly follow: George Formby. To accuse an entire nation of having no musical taste would be harsh but I still struggle to comprehend why George was such an immensely popular performer in England. It was WWII and I suppose anything sounds better than air raid siren's wail.

"Whatever", as my Nippers are fond of exclaiming, but Mr. Formby was responsible for me ranking the ukulele alongside the kazoo as an instrument of torture. Now two more words: Jake Shimabukuro - and if you compare and contrast these clips of Jake (below) & George (here) - you'll see why I'm a late convert to the Hawaiian "jumping flea" or "gift that came here", depending on what story you believe that most accurately translates the Hawaiian name for this variation of a Portuguese instrument that was brought to the Islands in the nineteenth century.

So the Gods of music are getting their revenge - the ukulele is coming at me from all angles. Now that I've removed the tinfoil from around my head, I'm receiving ukulele vibrations from the ether on a regular basis. With the fanaticism of a convert, I've an order in already for the Ukulele Orchestra of GB's CD that I heard snatches off on the wireless last week. After slagging off George Formby, their version of his "Leaning On A Lamppost" in the style of the Red Army Choir is irresistible.


And just today, I had a fine smorgasbord (there's a word you don't hear very often) of a lunch at a mate's house where he whipped out a recently purchased ukulele and treated us to an impromptu rendition of "I'll See You In My Dreams" that, I've subsequently discovered, Joe Brown played to wrap up the Concert For George (Harrison not Formby).

George, like Dennis, was a member of another legendary band who was overshadowed and underestimated by the rest of his buddies and the public for a time. In the end art will out and we are always richer for it.


Beach Bum said...

“I don’t know why everybody doesn’t live at the beach, on the ocean...

NO, tell all the inlanders the ocean stinks. And if they keep coming it will. Got far too much development on my side of the Atlantic. I know this is bad but I keep hoping hurricanes will send some of the yankees that came down south back home. If not hurricanes maybe the pythons that use to be pets and got let go when the became unmanageable. Some of those suckers are already thirteen feet with school kids in Florida being taught to watch out for them. And with global warming one snake guy from the Miami zoo saying they could go as far north as Virginia.

Beach Bum said...

Glad to see that the Spirit Of Dixie is alive and well but clearly, St.Patrick has some work to do in Florida.

Markitos said...

Brutha. thanks for checking my place. I was given a uk like a year ago. I just couldnt make it rip. so it sat around on my boat doing nothing till I gave it to a realy good friend. Holley shitaroo with in 2 weeks this guy had it going like a Dead concert. !! maybe it was the weed but rocked the harbor for hours !!!