A ukulele player's look at jazz and popular songs of the early 20th Century



One of the joys of learning the ukulele is discovering the wonderful songs of long ago--the beautiful melodies and lyrics that deserve to be remembered and revived. Thankfully, vintage sheet music abounds on the internet, and so I've had a great time tracking down lots of the old songs, transcribing them to chord/lyric sheets--in a good key for my voice--and then learning them on the uke. If you would like to receive my chord/lyric sheet for any of the songs featured here, email me and I will be happy to share them.


Have a listen to Van and Schenk, a popular Vaudeville duo:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"I See Your Face Before Me"

The largely forgotten musical comedy Between the Devil opened on Broadway on December 22, 1937, running for only 93 performances before it closed on March 12, 1938. As with many musicals, a few of the songs have gone on to enjoy very healthy lives, with this torch song there among them. The other two standouts, also by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, are "By Myself" and "Triplets", both of which surfaced in the 1953 film The Bandwagon.
Traditionally, the song is performed as a ballad, complete with a slow, morose tempo. Adapting it to the upbeat tone of a ukulele, however, does not damage the song, in this uke player's opinion. In fact, I prefer the brisker tempo as it seems to tone down the "woe is me" vibe that can burden some performances.

1 comment:

  1. Tim:

    I like your format for putting songs together in a very straightforward way. I worked thru your song quite easily and your video is a great way to test if I have the same feel.

    There's a song on Mike DaSilva's Berkeley Ukulele Club songbook called Sweet and Slow. I sang it at the Burning Uke VII but it is a bit obscure for the 60's rock songs. I was born is '61 but enjoy these old tunes.

    Thanks for your support too!