Red Rose Rag (Chords)

Red Rose Rag (Chords)


I never really understood people who get sweaty-palmed over album covers. But I do love to browse the various sheet music cover galleries online. This example of Red Rose Rag is particularly good. It’s sexy in a way that you never see on album covers anymore; it’s relaxed and has an off-duty cool about it – completely lacking in the desperation you usually see now. And she’s smoking; which is the coolest, sexiest thing anyone can do (until your lungs turn to dust and you start coughing black phlegm – that’s a little less sexy). You can download the cover and the score for the song here.

The woman pictured is Dolly Connolly, wife of the writer of this song Percy Wenrich and singer in her own right. Wenrich (known as “The Joplin Kid” – reference to his place of birth rather than the earlier famous ragtime composer Scott Joplin) wrote a number of popular tunes in the first few decades of the 20th Century – largely in the ragtime style – with Red Rose Rag being one of his most popular. George Burns loved the song so much he played it throughout his 640-year long career. Wenrich seems to have a thing for ‘red roses’ in his lyrics. Something of a problem for me as I tend to change the words ‘red rose’ to ‘red nose’ in every song I hear. Creating an amusing visual image in the refrain of Wenrich’s most famous song You wore a tulip/A big yellow tulip/And I wore a big red nose.

As well as having a nifty chord progression, the song also has an intro that works nicely on the uke (click for larger image).


To give you a head-start if you’re not familiar with the tune, you can download a midi file of the intro as written and an mp3 of the song on the Turtle Jukebox.

You can find more of my arrangements of ragtime tunes for ukulele in the ebook How to Play Ragtime Ukulele at How to Play Ukulele.

View Comments


  1. Meg March 18th, 2012 2:32 am

    Me gusta this is so fun!

  2. Woodshed March 19th, 2012 11:06 am

    Meg: Glad te gusta!

  3. Nix August 30th, 2012 1:20 pm

    Hi, I’d love some advice on how to begin to learn this song. Is there a simple kinda strum you could offer for a beginner? I’d love to play it at a friends wedding. Kind thanks. Nix

  4. IamAloha January 31st, 2013 5:49 pm

    Alohas Nix, my best advice to you is practice practice practice. As a beginner this song might be a little advanced for you, I recommend starting with songs you know by heart, songs that if you wanted to listen to you can just play them in your head, you know the progressions, you know most if not all the lyrics… This will help you learn timing, chord progressions and in the end be very valuable when you start learning songs you are not too familiar with. If you really want to learn this song look it up on youtube and hear it played a few times, its a simple ragtime beat, the hardest part is getting the chord changes in the right timing and to learn that you really need to be able to hear the song in your head. So listen to it about 10 times till you start to get sick of it, then try and play it yourself. :) hope this helps

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