Summer uke Project ~ Take One

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…” ~ Susan Polis Schutz

Some years ago I was called upon to recommend a ukulele for some cute girls from my sister Deb’s in-law side of the family. I ended up buying a nice LU-21P pineapple uke made by Lanikai. You can get a cheaper one in soprano size, but I wanted mine a little larger.

Pineapple-shaped body top, back, and sides are of nato wood, which is similar to mahogany construction, with a smooth rosewood fingerboard and bridge. It has geared tuners for precise tuning. A binding adds the finishing touch to the top. The distinctive pineapple 14″ scale length is in-between soprano (13″) and concert (15″).

Lanikai ukuleles apparently have great playability, sound, and aesthetics at a price that made it a slam dunk for me. This ukulele is strung with Aquila Nylgut Strings.


So this summer I am going to try to learn my first song, memorize it, and make it the one I always play. I selected “The Cowboy Song” that I first heard on Joe vs. the Volcano.

It only has two chords so that’s a start.

The Cowboy Song

Joe vs. the Volcano

Ee he o he-o [G]cowboy

Ee he o he-o [D7]oooo

Ee he o he-o cowboy, cowboy, cowboy

Under the [G]moon.

I was ridin’ my [G]horse

by the Rio Grand[D7]ee

and all o’ them coyotes singing

in a prairie [G]symphony.

I was ridin’ my [G]horse

down by the Rio Grand[D7]ee

when I seen me a cowboy, cowboy, cowboy,

ridin’ toward [G]me.

Ee he o he-o [G]cowboy

Ee he o he-o [D7]oooo

Ee he o he-o cowboy, cowboy, cowboy

Under the [G]moon.

He was twirling his [G]guns

And he had a gui[D7]tar

And we sang us up a sweet old

song about love

Under the [G]stars

Ee he o he-o [G]cowboy

Ee he o he-o [D7]oooo

Ee he o he-o cowboy, cowboy, cowboy

Under the [G]moon.


The song was written by John Patrick Shanley for the movie Joe vs. the Volcano. The strum pattern is up to you. A simple “down down up down down up” would work nicely, or even “down up down up” is okay too.

Listen for the chord changes. They’re fairly obvious, and learning where they come in is part of learning to play. But here’s a hint… listen for the change on the last syllable at the end of every other line in the lyrics.

clip_image001 clip_image002

I called my brother Pete, the Luther to see if he had any easier chords to recommend for a beginner like me and he sagely said, give it time. He also recommended I learn this song next:

Right … (Note, I can’t get WordPress to link to YouTube anymore, so thus the picture.)

About Gandalfe

Just an itinerant saxophonist trying to find life between the changes. I have retired from the Corps of Engineers and Microsoft. I am an admin on the Woodwind Forum, run the Seattle Solid GOLD Big Band (formerly the Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra), and enjoy time with family and friends.
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2 Responses to Summer uke Project ~ Take One

  1. hakukaniakukani says:

    D7 is easier played by 2nd fret 4th string and 2nd fret 2nd string. Then all you have to do to go to G is move your 1st and second fingers to the 1st and 3rd string and add the third finger. The voice leading is also less ‘twangy’, IMO.

  2. Gandalfe says:

    I bet you memorized this in one playing. Thanks! 🙂

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