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The Nerve Mixtape With Jake Shimabukuro
The ukulele virtuoso on his favorite pop odes to love.
by Jake Shimabukuro
Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro jumpstarted his career with a cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that reduced 10 million YouTube viewers to gentle weeping. He's since appeared all over late night TV, played with luminaries from Yo-Yo Ma to Cyndi Lauper, and scored a number-one album on the Billboard World Music charts. His new album, Grand Ukulele, was produced by Alan Parsons, of the eponymous Project; it comes out this fall. We asked Jake to make us a mix of his favorite songs about love; listen for these on a ukulele near you.
1. Lisa Loeb, "Falling In Love"
This is a beautiful song that I often gravitate toward when I'm feeling kind of mellow. The string arrangement by Dan Coleman is absolutely gorgeous.
2. Ani DiFranco, "You Had Time"
One of my favorite songs of all time. Anyone who's ever been in love can relate to the lyrics. "You are a china shop, and I am a bull / You are really good food, and I am full."
3. Sarah McLachlan, "Ice Cream"
This is a very cute and light-hearted tune with a slight twist. It plays well on the uke. My favorite version is the one off of McLachlan's Freedom Sessions album.
4. Chess, "Someone Else's Story"
This is one of my favorite melodies. I don't know what it is about this song that makes me stop and listen every time it plays.
5. Jennifer Holliday, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"
Jennifer Holliday, the original "Dreamgirl," owns this song. I have never heard a singer perform this with more conviction and authority than her. I get chills every time I hear it.
6. The Beatles, "All You Need Is Love"
This is just a classic. It would be a tragedy to not include this one. "Love is all you need."
7. Minnie Riperton, "Lovin' You"
I never get tired of hearing this song. This is definitely an early-relationship kind of song — when the butterflies are still fluttering around in your stomach. Minnie's voice always makes me smile.
8. Bob Dylan, "Don't Think Twice It's Alright"
This song never leaves my playlist. Don't we all wish everything we said could be as poetic as the great Bob Dylan? Guess we can dream.
9. Sarah Brightman, "Time To Say Goodbye"
Don't let the title fool you — this is a song about finding your soulmate. At least that's what I gathered from skimming through the English translation. I just love the melody. And you can't go wrong with the classic chord progression in the chorus. It's the backbone of tons of hit tunes — most recently, "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz and "Hey Soul Sister" by Train, both great ukulele tunes!
10. The Beatles, "Something"
I had to include one of my favorite George Harrison tunes. This is just a beautiful song, and Harrison's guitar solo is one of the greatest ever recorded. I read somewhere that he actually recorded the solo as a scratch track and was planning on having someone else record over it. Thank goodness he didn't.
Want to meet someone who'll play you Beatles tunes on their ukulele? Meet them on Nerve.