Elvis Costello – Good Year for the Roses (Chords)

Elvis Costello – Good Year for the Roses (Chords)

When I was thinking of a song to sum up 2016 the title of this one immediately popped into my head. It was first a hit for George Jones but I’ve written up is Elvis Costello’s cover.

The version above uses a capo at the second fret to make things easier. But if you have no fear of the E chord you can play it this way:

Good Year for the Roses (No Capo Chords)

If you want to play along with the George Jones version just capo two frets higher. There’s only one other difference at that comes in the strumming.

Suggested Strumming

For the main strum you can use this good old standby:

d – d u – u d u

Intro: Main strum four times.

Verses: In the first two lines do the main strum twice on G. Then d – d u on G again and d – d u on C before returning to the main strum on G twice. Here’s how that sounds:

Verse Strum

On the second two lines do the main strum twice for each chord.


For the first two lines use the main strum once for the first two chords and twice for the last.

The third line is the same but inserts a 2/4 bar of d-d- on the second C chord. And the last line ends with a series of d-d- strums on the G-C-G-D. The last two lines sound like this:

Chorus Strum

The George Jones version doesn’t have that bar of 2/4. The first half of the bar is d-d- on C and the second is d-d- on G.

Twiddly Bits

Here’s a little lick based on the lap steel riff:


Here’s how that sounds:

Intro riff

If you’re playing without a capo you can take advantage of the open strings and play it like this:



Buy the George Jones version.
Buy the Elvis Costello version
Shipbuilding Tab

L’Orchestre National de Ukulélés: UkeTube

Full Playlist

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Friday Links: New Elements, Handsome Ukuleles

– Helen Arney updates Tom Lehrer’s The Elements to include the four new additions to the periodic table.
– Folk guitar legend Martin Simpson discusses playing the ukulele (I tabbed out the tune he talks about and noodles with back here) (Via @ukeist).

aNueNue’s Koa Bird ukulele is very stylish.
– As is the Rebel Elysium.

New Releases
– Ben of Ukulele Road Trips has a new Christmas album out.
– Craig Robertson has recorded an incredible 30 albums since 2003. And just announced his 31st is coming out in January.

Congratulations to Robin Evans who successfully set a world record by playing ukulele for 30 hours straight.

X-Factor brouhaha over “stolen” ukulele version of Toxic. We all know Molly Lewis’s version is the real ukulele Toxic.

If your club is looking for some handsome music stands UK-based Pickallwood (of Uke on the Brain) are offering uke clubs 20% off their personalised music stands.

Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why (Tab)

Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why (Tab)

What a great melody this is. And it’s matched with some juicy jazz chords. Making it perfect for a ukeing.

In case you’re not familiar with the repeat markings I use, you play up to “D.S. al Coda” go back to the squiggle in bar five, play up to “Da Coda” then skip to the target in bar 23.


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Tabs for Fingerpicking and Solo Beginners

As a companion to the “Songs with Chords You Know” post I thought I’d put together a list of posts for people just getting started learning fingerpicking, tabs and solo playing.

Tutorials for Tabs and Fingerpicking

I’ve written a nine part guide on how to read tab. But you don’t have to read them all before getting started. But I’d recommend being familiar with:

The basics of tab
Reading rhythms

When you start tackling fingerpicking have a look at these fingerpicking patterns and familiarise yourself with:

Thumb and two finger picking
One finger per string picking

A couple more tutorials you might find helpful for solo playing:

Fake strums
The easiest ways to improve your ukulele playing.

One Note at a Time Tabs

These are a good place to start reading tab and playing them. If you want to keep it simple you can pick them all with just your thumb. Or if you’re practicing your fingerpicking you can use the thumb and two finger picking method. Some of these contain both full arrangements and “one note at a time” versions so you might have to scroll down to find some of them.

Canzone Danza
Moon River
O Christmas Tree
Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
Sherlock theme
Silent Night

Thumb Only Solos

These arrangements all combine chords and melody in one part. You do that by holding a chord shape then strumming your thumb down the strings up to the melody note.

Away in a Manger
Hanging Tree
Happy Birthday to You
Little Drummer Boy
Pua Lililehua
Sakura Sakura
Smoking Gun Bleeding Knives (Ryan Gosling)
Waltzing Matilda
We Shall Overcome (Pete Seegar)
We Three Kings

Fingerpicking Backing

Here are some pieces that use fingerpicking patterns as backing.

Moon Song (Karen O) (Picking Version)
Smile (Stephin Merritt)
Somewhere Only We Know (Keane)
Turn to White (She & Him)

Easy Fingerpicking Tabs

Finally, here are a few pieces that use fingerpicking patterns of the basis or have very easy to play arrangements.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Lorde)
Horn (Nick Drake)
Paul’s Dance (Penguin Cafe Orchestra)
Walking Dead Theme
Year of the Dog (Matt Kresling)

Nick Drake – Horn (Tab)

Nick Drake – Horn (Tab)

It’s not often I break with my schedule but Nick Drake’s Horn popped into my ears this morning and I felt compelled to get my own up.

It also fits well with the real post today about pieces suitable for solo ukulele beginners. It’s the sparsest track on Drake’s sparsest album. For my version there’s just a droning open C-string (plucked with the thumb) and the slow melody mainly on the A-string (middle finger) and occasionally on the E-string (index finger).

The only downside is that it requires a ukulele with at least fifteen frets. If you don’t have one you can play this version in G:

Horn (Tab in G)

This moves the drone to the g-string. Making it an octave higher (unless you’re using low-G tuning). So it doesn’t fit perfectly but it does still work.


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More Nick Drake tabs

The Magnetic Fields – ’74 No (Chords)

The Magnetic Fields – ’74 No (Chords)

There’s a new 5 CD/50 song album from The Magnetic Fields on the way and the five tracks that have come out already have made me very excited for it. The standout track ’74 No is great for uke too. All beginner chords. The strumming is trickier than the chords.

The only slight change is I’ve included a version of the F chord with the A-string played at the third fret. That makes for a nice transition into the C chord. But it’s not mandatory. You can play the standard F and it’ll work perfectly.

Suggested Strumming

Intro and outro The bars in the intro and outro are divided unevenly. So in the first half of the first bar you strum d u d u – u on the Am and a down strum on the G. And in the second half (still G) do – u d u d – d u.

All together it looks like this:


Verses 1, 2 and 5 I use the same strum for these verses but they’ll divided up a little differently. So for the first two lines the C chord takes up the same strumming as Am and G in the intro strum. So it’s like this:


The third line goes back to four chords so you strum and change in the same places as the intro. And the final line is exactly the same as the intro.

Verses 3 and 4 Things get a lot more straight forward in the keyboardy verses. For those I just use this pattern twice for C and once each on F and G:

d – d – d u d u


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More Magnetic Fields/Stephin Merritt chords

Jan Laurenz, Sam Trump: UkeTube

Full Playlist

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Friday Links

It’s nearing the end of the year and the Ukulele 2016 Spotify playlist is taking shape. As always, there’s a wide variety of great music from world famous virtuosos to low-fi indie acts, novelty songs to slick Hawaiian standards. So whatever you’re into you should find something you like on there.

New Releases
– New record from Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer: There’s a Rumpus Going On
– Kamaka have collected the cream of Hawaii’s ukers for the double album Keep Strumming.
Kyle Frazer’s It Was You has been out for a while in CD form but it’s now on Bandcamp on a pay-what-you-like basis.
Formidible Vegetable Sound System’s Grow Do It

– A striking KoAloha Black Label custom uke.
– New name to me Jim DeCava Maui Creek ukulele.
1920s Washburn Shrine with green binding.

Tattoo of “Play your ukulele,” in Circular Gallifreyan.

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Tabs)

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Tab)

I wrote up the chords for Hallelujah way back in 2008. But, since it’s a huge hit with ukulelists, I wanted to do an instrumental version as a little tribute to Leonard Cohen. And a tribute to Jeff Buckley since the intro is completely ripped off from his incredible version.

I try to keep most of my tabs fairly disciplined and work them up fully beforehand. It’s easier for people to read and learn that way. But be warned: this one I played pretty freely then tabbed out what I played. So the fingerpicking is all over the place.

In the verse the melody is everything played on the A-string plus the third fret of the E-string. Everything else is backing so should be played a little more softly. The chorus is more strange since the melody notes are played on the g-, C- and E-strings. I’ve notated all the melody notes with an accent > above them.


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