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.

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