But then...George, my favorite Beatle, suddenly whipped out a ukulele and proceeded to drown-out Paul with a tune that sounded like the fruit of a coital relationship between Don Ho and Muddy Waters.
I was excited! George seemed to be having such fun with his uke, that I felt a great urge to waste $50 on one for myself.
So, I did a bit a research--which unearthed both good news and bad.
The good news was that I found nearly universal agreement that the uke is the world's easiest instrument to play. Or, if it's not quite the easiest, then it's at least easy to the point of absurdity.
The bad news, however, was that the uke not only looks like a guitar...but is played like one. It requires memorization of chord patterns; which, presumably, involves the "P-word."
This was disheartening. I played the cello between the ages 10-14, and played it badly. I also played guitar for two years in the 1990's, and played it badly.
Of course...if you were to combine the total hours of practice that I dedicated to those two instruments over that six year span, the sum total of those hours would be somewhere in the low two-digits. In fact, I believe that each of those digits would be the number "1."
And so--acknowledging the reality that if I were to buy a new ukulele, it would quickly join my dust-laden, Spanish-made, Aria concert guitar in "The Closet of Ever More"--I purged the idea from my mind and turned my attention to the equally preposterous topic of BBQ smokers.
Purged, that is, until I met "Pam the Nerdy."
Pam's "Nerd's Eye View" blog featured a number of posts detailing her passion for playing her uke. Correction: Her *five* ukes.
So, I shot Pam an email explaining that I, too, would like to start down the path to uke-phoria...but believed in my heart of hearts that the path would surely lead me over the edge of a cliff before my credit card billed had even arrived.
Then, my worst nightmare then came true. Pam responded.
Worse yet, she responded with a lengthy, comprehensive and [OH NOOOO!!!] *supportive* response.
In essence (and I'm paraphrasing here), Pam said the following: "Don't be such a sniveling, spineless, pessimistic wimp! Ukes are cheap, fun, and even a lobster can play one. You have nothing to lose. And besides, I'll help you."
Oh, damn! Thirty seconds later, I logged onto Amazon.com and bought an Oscar Schmidt OU2 Concert Uke. I also bought a copy of Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Tips n' Tunes. You know...just in case I should someday have an insatiable urge to play "She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain."
I named my new uke "Felix"--which seemed appropriate, given that it was manufactured by someone named "Oscar." I took it to a music shop and had the factory-issued strings removed and replaced with better ones.
Then--unable to think of any further stalling tactics--I sat down with a sigh and succumbed to the inevitable. I would have to play Felix.
And, so--in honor of George--I downloaded the chord transcription for "My Sweet Lord," made sure that nobody was around to hear me, took a deep breath...and just let it fly.
What happened next shocked me to the core. My attempt to play "My Sweet Lord" sounded like...like...like..."My Sweet Lord!!!" In fact, it sounded great! Felix and I were kickin' ass!
What a revelation! The uke *is* ridiculously easy to play. It may look like a guitar, but it doesn't frustrate like one. Granted, it's not nearly as cool as the accordion, but it is the perfect instrument for music lovers with no musical talent.
I am therefore throwing down the gauntlet. I must humbly demand that everyone reading this VTB go out and buy a uke. Christina already has, and now you must, too.
Why? Because we are going to start a new New Year's tradition just eleven short months from now. On December 31, 2007, all 61,465 VTB readers are going to record and post a uke-o-fied version of The Beatles' "In My Life" on their respective blogs.
Now, won't that be cool?