About the author
My Mystical History with the Ukulele
The Early Years
I used to be smaller – like when I was born in 1944. Even then, I was bigger than a ukulele (maybe not as sweet). Any way, I kept getting bigger, and my Mom thought I was sweet; so, in 9th grade Dad took me to "Uncle Somebody’s" pawn shop and bought me a cheap baritone uke. The man said it was "just right" for me (maybe it was my glasses).
As you can probably tell, I never got any "formal training." So, graaaadually, I became – by my college years – what the musically impaired call "pretty good" - playing zany and profound three-chord "folk-revival" ditties (three-chord punk hadn’t been invented yet). The hope was to be "good" enough to impress the girls on "Spring Break"!! But fate intervened.
On our first night in Ft. Lauderdale, while exiting a hamburger establishment, we were – without provocation (other than Mac’s "Beatle" haircut) – attacked by local toughs!! Needless to say, their beer bottles were no match for my ukulele (I’d taken "Fencing 101" freshman year), but it was a bittersweet victory, all-the-same. The uke was a mangled tangle of shellac, splinters, and string.
Refusing all efforts toward resuscitation, it never spoke again and was buried at sea. I like to think of it as sailing on through the warm Caribbean, a moss-draped ghost uke, in search of Arthur Godfrey. Thus began the dark period of my life, ukeless and forced back upon the second-hand "Gene Autry" guitar I had bought from my friend Ham for $35.00.
The Middle Years
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .
Sometime Much Later
In my "middle age" the stars aligned, compelling a colleague to sell me his Kay soprano ukulele ($5.00). Obviously neglected, the uke came out of the closet, demanded attention, inhabited my hands, colonized my mind! Time had flown – Gene Autry was dead - folk and punk had had their day, and it was time to build a bridge to the 21st Century!! The uke and the Ukulele Man were just the ones to do it!! In a frenzy we started - the uke, the muse, and I.
The rest is history.