EZ Beatles Songs for Uke

Let’s find easy Beatles songs that we can jazz up to sound great.

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Oh, Benny boy, Ben, come on, Ben. Hey, hey, I got to go.


Welcome everybody to ukulele practice time with Danno. Today is — Beatles day and not just any Beatles day. It's easy Beatles Day.

Plan of attack

so here's the plan for today, my friends, I'm going to share with you this Beatles book, I'm going to share with you why I'm sharing with you this Beatles book. We're going to look through a song list that I've put together of songs from this book that I've selected, particularly because they fall into what I'm calling easy.

But I don't want you to think that we're only looking at them because they're easy. Also on my song list, there it is. I've marked with Arrows, the songs that are easy and have a little extra something that makes them sound. Special makes them worth doing on the ukulele, if that makes sense, so I'll keep explaining as we go.

Beatles Fake Book

This book, ladies and gentlemen, is called The Beatles Fake Book, and I can only say I'm sharing this with you the old fashioned way.

This is not a screen shot. This is a camera pointed pointing down at the book itself. So you can see exactly what I see. The advantage of that is that I can flip around in the book the disadvantage, the disadvantages that I can only show so much at a time. All right. So I gave you my plan of attack. I'm going to share with you this book and then why I'm sharing this book with you. And then we're going to use this book to find some easy Beatles songs, pros and cons related to those. So as you can tell, I'm not chitter chattering too much. I want to get right to work, but I do want to share with you why I'm using this book, what put it in my mind today, because I thought it was kind of funny.

Actually, I'll go back to the book. When you look through the book, these are real layouts with music arrangements, right? It's the notes which represent the melodies.

It's the layout of the songs. And it's the chord names.


I've had this book floating around the house for a while and. My family is fairly musical. My wife is very musical and my son is very musical and my daughter is very musical, but we all have different bits of music that we're interested in, except for my son, who likes the Beatles but doesn't know their catalog that deeply. We're all pretty big Beatles fans. I'm the number one Beatle fan in the family and. I was noodling around with some songs from this Beatles fake book a while back when everybody was home for vacation, and my daughter chimes in and says I was just playing the chords of the song. She says, Hey, isn't that nowhere, man? Let's say. And the answer was, yes, that was nowhere, man. So she was able to recognize it just by the chords and the way I was playing it, which is a big point. I want to harp on today, how I'm playing it. And it became a game, so any time anyone walked through the living room where the book resided, they could pick up the ukulele or a guitar and strum through a song, but they wouldn't sing the words or hum the melody. And the game was, can you name the Beatles song just from hearing the chords?

There are tracks on YouTube where Beatles nuts have gone in with software and somehow separated the different tracks of the song. So, for example, you might be able to hear just Paul singing or just John's guitar or just the harmony that the Beatles are doing. Some of those are really nice because, as you know, they were very good at harmonies. By the way, while I'm chatting, give me a thumbs up if you're a Beatles fan. But the weirdest one that I found just recently, somebody had isolated Ringo's drums, just the drums. Well. The weird thing is, if you're a big Beatles nut like me for a lot of songs, you can tell what song it is. Just hearing the drums, the one that really hit me was A Day in the Life. I read the news today. Oh, boy. You know that one. And if you think about it, the drums are really distinctive.

He doesn't really play it like a rhythm track. It's all these fills that just come in between the lines of the song. It's really distinctive, really unusual. And maybe it was that I knew what I was listening for and I knew it was a Beatles song.So I knew that I was able to detect what it was from the drum fills. Anyway, kind of a fun game to try on YouTube.

And that's what got me going on this book today and on this subject that I want to address with you.

Complex and simple

Beatles songs have a bit of a reputation for being complex, a lot of them think of something like a Day in the Life or I am the Walrus. Those are not the songs that we're going to hit today. So what I've created for you over here and I can share the link with you in a little bit, this is just a first pass of pulling out some songs that are pretty easy based on chords alone. Now, that is not the main criteria, but it's an important criteria. Maureen, the Beatles did sing Hey, Jude, you got to love that, right? I'm enjoying the comments, I just I have to pause and check every once in a while. Thank you.

More important than chords?

For some of you have been through some of my workshops, what do you think I would say is more important by far than the chords of a song?

I'll preface that by saying that a lot of beginner ukulele players think that they need to learn dozens, scores, hundreds of chords. Have you seen those books? A dictionary of ukulele chords. And it's literally every D chord, every D minor chord, every D seven court. And there's hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them. But as a teacher, I say you don't need to learn those. You only need to learn the chords that you need when you need them.

And what do you think is in my opinion, far more important?

Strumming, strumming.

Strumming and the rhythm of the song that goes right back to Ringo. That's why those films are so distinctive or so recognizable, because they are so distinctive.

List of songs

So. When we look at this list of songs, Some of these are very well known and some of them not so well known, but I've also marked the ones that I think are good for us as solo ukulele players because there's something you can add to them to make them sound distinctive, sort of like, like Ringo's fills on the ukulele.

So there's no way for us to have time to even go through many of these, but I just wanted you to see the list that I just pulled out. These are songs that, based on chords alone, a pretty new ukulele player would be able to handle.

About the book

So this book is called The Beatles Fake Book. I like this book because these are the Best, succinct arrangements that I have found for Beatles songs. There are other Beatles books that are much more complex and show the full arrangements of Beatles songs. We don't need that as ukulele players.

So what you get in a book like this is if I can flip to a song. It doesn't really matter. There's Nowhere Man, the one I mentioned.

What you get is the melody of the song, if you can read notes, that's great because it will help you figure out the melody either on your ukulele or for singing.

It gives you the chord names.

Uh-oh, guitar chords?

But you may notice — what's the problem? What am I going to say is the problem? Those are not ukulele chords, those are guitar chords, the diagrams are guitar chords.

So that's the down side yesterday we talked about you, buddy, where you can go look up chord shapes if you need it, so you have to be able to convert the chords if you're going to use this particular book. So, again, for the sake of our discussion today, that doesn't matter. But if you're looking at this particular book, I didn't want to mislead you. Those are guitar shapes.

By the way, you know, I hope that a G on a guitar makes the same sound as a G on a ukulele or a G chord on a piano. Guitar player has to put fingers into a different place to get a G chord. But when a guitar player strums and when you strum on your ukulele, the sound is going to be the same. It's going to still sound like a G chord. So you can directly read these chord names. So you would ignore the diagrams and just use the names.

All right, let's go over to my list for a second, and if you see any on this list that you're particularly interested in, let me know and we'll focus on it. But I just want to show you what my point is, that you can take a song that is simple to play and make it sound — you can take a sad song and make it better as a certain band once taught us. Let me jump to Twist and shout.

Twist and Shout

All right, so I'll bet you know twist and shout, right, and I'm going to make my point with that song.

All right, so here's a twist and shout.

Chords D G A7, those are our three chords that we use all the time in rock music. Uh, d.

So you guys at the G7 say, give me a little twist and shout, twist and shout now I'm not going to play the whole song, but has it occurred to you that those are the same three chords as. You are my sunshine, my sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray, but today we didn't even get to the award yet, but it's in there.

So my point is the chords aren't the important part. The chords could be. Twist and shout or the courts could be, You are my sunshine. The things that make it start to make it different are, of course, the melody that you sing over the top, and a big part of it is the way that you strum the chords. Now, this is not one that is really distinctive, by the way you strum the chords. Let me show you again on my list that I made. If you see some names that have three, two little arrows in front, those are ones that I've picked out as being distinctive, especially distinctive for the strumming.

But let's stick with Twist and Shout for a second.

Do you hear that I'm not just doing dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, ukulele, default strum down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up. That would work. It would absolutely work.

And it would still sound mostly like twist and shout twisting.

Secret: think like a drummer

Now, what am I going to do? I'm going to I'm going to let you in on one of the secrets that I reveal in my struggling course. Think like the drummer. If you listen to the song and know it well, you'll start to hear what the drummer is doing. Oftentimes with the bass player is doing it.

I don't know if that's exactly what's happening on the drums there, but listen to how I can sort of apply that to the strumming to the people. Do you hear how that's a little bit different? But that little bit is a lot different. Give me a yes or a no or a thumbs up or something, so I know that that's making sense to you. All right. I'm going to flip through and find a couple more songs for those of you who are new here. I like ukulele practice time just to be 15, 20, 25 minutes at the most. So I don't really want to. Belabor the point here.

I just want to kind of prove the point. Thanks for those comments, appreciate it.

Let's try.

I Saw Her Standing There

I saw her standing there. That's another one that probably everyone knows.

Look it up in the old Table of contents, this is so old school, isn't it?

I saw her standing there, so you know that one, right? She was just 17.

So these are like early Beatles, rock and roll classics. Oh, this is great. This is a great one.

Jan says this, which is very, very wise. That's exactly it. Jan. Uke as a percussion instrument rather than strings, right? That's exactly it, that what we do on the ukulele is we provide rhythm and music at the same time, and sometimes we add more, we add in the actual melody of the song to we're not going to hit that today at all. But if you think of yourself as a rhythm player who happens to be providing music accompaniment while providing rhythm. You're going to sound great. You're going to sound great. Think about it, you could mute the strings and just play the drum part of a song.

Now, that's not music, but people could dance to that. They hear the rhythm. You're supplying the beat and the rhythm at the same time. We're going to tell the chords on top of that.

So, again, if we just do typical ukulele strum, the song will sound like the song, especially if you know what the song is already, but it's not going to sound.

So here's typical ukulele strum.

All right. Now let me play it the way I want to play it, which is focusing on the rhythm and the interesting parts of the rhythm, just like Jan said she will.

You can hear the difference already, right?

Well, she was just 17 when she was playing.

So that's it, do you hear the huge difference in that one? We went from it almost sounded like a folk song to making it sound like a rock and roll song. And that's great. One of the things about the ukulele that always is taxing a little bit is that we've got only four strings. We've got this very short little neck, which very much limits what we're able to achieve in this variety of sounds that we're able to make. That's not a negative, it's often a plus two, it makes the ukulele sound like the ukulele and. It's true, it's one reason why for a song like this one, I saw her standing there, they didn't choose to play it on ukuleles. It's not really a rock instrument in that sense. That said, we can make it sound very acceptable as a rock and roll song. So let me kind of work it out for you. All right. And show you how I'm thinking about it.

So the key for something like this is to either know this particular song well enough that you've got the sound in your head or that you've got enough of vocabulary. And strum styles from other songs that you worked on that you can choose from your bag of drums what to apply. So you might say, well, this is a, you know, a fast rock and roll song and I want people to get up and dance. What strum can I use? I'm doing a little bit of both of those things.

A little bit of muting

And I'm also muting I'm not I've got a whole video workshop on strumming. So in our last couple of minutes here, I won't be able to go through all those things. But listen again. Listen where.

I'm hitting the strings and getting that muite sound instead of full music sound, so you get that sound in your mind.

And then it takes practice. But you tell yourself, that's the sound I want. When do I have to hit the strings to create that sound? I'm saying that like, oh, that's all it is. It's there is. It takes work. I want to get bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum. So I'm just going to hit the strings when I want that sound. But three, four.

Three, four.

All right.

Wrap up

I had hoped would be able to get through five of these songs today. We only really touched on two. But I do want to wrap it up and respect your time, because I promise to keep these short. That said, I'm going to leave the video up on Facebook over the weekend. So if you have questions about any of these particular songs, feel free to chime in and ask. If you have questions about these concepts, feel free to chime in and ask. And I'll see the questions even after the workshop closes up here today. Let me answer a couple of questions that came up as we wrap things up here today, let me say thanks to everybody. It's such a great excuse to get together and play music knowing that I have a few ukulele pals out there in the world.

Maureen, ask, where is the workshop on strumming, and the answer is coming up in the chat box, daily ukulele dot com and I don't have the direct link, but you can look at the store and you'll find that course and the other ones that I teach. So thanks for saying thanks, everybody. Do chime in later if you have questions. And I'll post the link for this too. If you want the list of songs so fun talking music with you will be back again. Not tomorrow or Sunday, but on Monday at 12 01. Stay healthy, wealthy and wise in that order, friends. And I'll see you next week. By now.

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