Love songs on the Ukulele (Valentine’s Day Issue)

What better holiday to have near the end of a cold and dreary winter than Valentine’s Day? It seems strange we don’t celebrate love at the height of spring or the warm days of summer, but hey I don’t make the rules. For those ukulele players who made New Years resolutions to start practising more, we have a few weeks to prepare the perfect love songs for our ukulele. Below are a few song examples for the beginner and more advanced player to learn for Valentine’s Day, hopefully they will impress your love to be or an audience just simply in the spirit of such a romantic day!

La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf)

The French cabaret singer-songwriter Edith Piaf wrote this song back in 1946, and was made popular with an English version by Louis Armstrong. The title can be translated as “Life Through Rose Colored Glasses” or its literal meaning which is “Life in Pink.” The chords and ukulele tabs can be found here. I would suggest learning the basic chords first and when you feel like a challenge add the tabs into the mix. (The chords may be a bit confusing that last part of the verse is played Dm-G7 on the word “rose”). When played on the ukulele, keep your strum very simple, it is slow and deliberate, and will sound very nice once practiced. If you really want to challenge yourself and impress your special someone… learn the lyrics in French!

Moonlight Bay (Doris Day)

This song was published way back in 1912 by Edward Madden and Percy Wenrich, while numerous artists have recorded it, I have always been fond of Doris Day’s version. This is a great ukulele song, especially when you add a little swing to the strum, keep it simple and moderate paced when playing. If you notice, the chords of the song have some augmented and diminished chords that are common of jazz pop standards, but nothing too complicated for a beginning ukulele player. Another version of this song that is always great for a laugh is The Beatles on the old Morecombe and Wise TV show.

Sh-Boom (The Chords)

Sh-Boom is an early doo-wop song from 1954 when the genre was first getting started, the most popular version of Sh-Boom was by the group The Chords. Now as a doo wop song it is played a little fast, but for the ukulele we can slow it down a little. The hardest part about the chords is switching them fast enough. The main hook of the song is F-Dm-Gm-C, practice this progression a few times before trying the song out. Once you can play that main riff you have most of the song down save for the bridge.

I’m Yours (Jason Mraz)

Of course one of the most popular songs these days on the ukulele is perfect for Valentine’s Day, and that is the Jason Mraz song “I’m Yours”. This song has a great uplifting and carefree feel to it, the hardest part is the chords. Of course you can always change the key but I find the key of B to be the most fitting, you will have to deal with the dreaded E chord, but that is good practice! The good news is that you only need to know 5 chords for the whole song and much of it is repeating. If you need to you can transpose the song to the Key of C and the chords will simply be C-G-Am-F (the famed Axis of Awesome chord progression used in many songs).

When I’m 64 (Paul McCartney)

This was a song written by Paul McCartney when he was 16 and often played by The Beatles in the early days on occasions when the electricity would go out in the clubs. It is a perfect and silly love song that even mentions Valentine’s in the lyrics. There are a variety of keys to play it in, for the ukulele C will be the easiest. In these chords the Ab7 is likely the hardest chord, but remember that is simply a G7 chord barred on the first fret. A great style of strumming is kind of a carefree vaudeville style, and it helps to hum the simple bass pattern to this song as an intro.

Let It Be Me (Everly Brothers)

This Everly Brothers song can make a loved one quite teary eyed, sing this to your significant other and they will melt in your arms. The chords aren’t too difficult, I like to do a little fingerpicking in the first two verses as I also lightly strum the chords. At the bridge I switch to a little more deliberate strumming to enhance that section. A couple other great Everly Brothers love songs are “Till I Kissed You” (great for mute strumming) and “All I Have To Do Is Dream.”

The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael)

This song was written by the great Hoagy Carmichael (who has many famous pop standards especially suited for Valentine’s Day) and is still being covered to this day. The chord changes are definitely for a more intermediate ukulele player, they will take some time to learn. However, once you start playing it you will notice how easily the fingerings progress into one another. This is a pleasant and dreamy song when played on the ukulele, especially a tenor or baritone. I highly recommend this song for those who have really nice singing voices, not easy to learn but well worth the practice!

Till There Was You (Meredith Wilson)

Written by Meredith Wilson for the musical play The Music Man (I prefer this version), this is another song that will require a bit of practice. Start out by playing the chords one at a time, as you get used to them you can start to add a little strumming. This is another great love song for the holiday, especially for those ukulele players who love to sing. These songs that seem a little complicated are perfect to advance your ukulele playing. They will help teach you harder chords and give you a good idea on how to structure a really great song.

Well there you have it, a short list of some great ukulele love songs to play on Valentine’s Day! Of course there are many more out there. Maybe Google some lists of the most famous romantic songs out there, just remember not every song will translate well to the ukulele its all about looking up the chords and trying them out. Now just in case you are a reader who isn’t feeling the love this Valentine’s Day, or perhaps you are a pragmatic ukulele player who takes the good with the bad… we have one final song just for you;

Lovesick Blues (Meredith Wilson)

A great tune by Hank Williams and great for a ukulele!

That’s it, hope you liked these song ideas for a perfect Valentine’s Day!

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