4 Chord Songs for Ukulele!

If you haven’t seen the music video Four Chords, watch it! It is hilarious.

In this video, the Australian Band, Axis of Awesome, creates a parody of 36 pop hits from the 1960’s until today, all using the same chord progression. This progression is called the Pop-Rock Chord Progression and it uses the following chords: I, vi, IV, V. On  the ukulele these four chords are: C, A Minor, F and G. For fun, I’ve arranged my own version of Four Chords using the following songs:

  • Heart and Soul
  • Let It Be
  • Take My Home Country Roads
  • Blowin’ in the Wind
  • Y.M.C.A.
  • Don’t Stop Believin’
  • Hey Soul Sister
  • I’m Yours
  • Home


This chords progression has been used in many songs. Wikipedia lists over 250 pop hits that have used this progression! Melody, rhythm, voices, instrumentation are all musical elements that make a song sound unique to us. The four chords theme is so funny, because such different songs from different eras can be sung next to each other without changing the chords.

For this parody, I keep the chords the same, but occasionally change the tempo and the strumming patterns to fit the songs. Here is my parody of 4 chords.

I start with Heart and Soul, which has more than four chords if you include the bridge of the song (middle part) This song is iconoclastic for me. As a child growing up in the 1960’s everyone I knew would play Heart and Soul on every piano they could find everywhere. It was a way for the kids who did not take piano lessons to still show off.

Nowadays children no longer know these two songs and are excited to learn them in a General Music keyboard class. They are still extremely surprised (as I was) to learn that Heart and Soul is a real song. The progression is iconoclastic and if you’ve ever played it on a keyboard, Heart and Soul will help you to get a handle on the I, vi, IV, V chord progression. For more about chord progressions check out What is a Chord Progression? 

By the way, I also simplified a few of the songs, to make the 4 chords progression work. I wanted to choose songs I know and are likely to be familiar to you.

Enjoy my parody of 4 Chord Songs and happy strumming!

How to play “My Funny Valentine” on ukulele

Here’s our newest lesson on “My Funny Valentine” by Rodgers and Hart.

Click below to download a pdf of the lyrics and chords for this song.

My Funny Valentine

“My Funny Valentine” is a show tune from the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical Babes in Arms. The show opened in New York City on April 14, 1937 and ran for 289 performances. In the original play, a character named Billie Smith (played by Mitzi Green) sings “My Funny Valentine” to Valentine “Val” LaMar (played byRay Heatherton). Billie pokes fun at some of Valentine’s characteristics, but ultimately affirms that he makes her smile and that she doesn’t want him to change.

The song first hit the charts in 1945, performed by Hal McIntyre with vocals by Ruth Gaylor. It only appeared for one week and hit #16. In 1957 it was sung by Kim Novak in the film Pal Joey. The song is part of the Great American Songbook and has had many notable recordings. “My Funny Valentine” became a popular jazz standard and is part of the Great American songbook. It has appeared on over 1300 albums performed by over 600 artists, including Chet Baker, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey, Miles Davis, Etta James, Nico, Chaka Khan, Elvis Costello, and Rickie Lee Jones.

In 2015 it was announced that the Gerry Mulligan quartet featuring Chet Baker’s version of “My Funny Valentine” will be inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry for the song’s “cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy”. Jenny performs the song in A minor. Frank Sinatra recorded it in B minor and the theatrical version was in B minor. Ella Fitzgerald recorded in G minor.

How to play “Three Little Birds” on ukulele

Here’s our newest lesson on Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”.

Jenny shows you a cool fingerpicked lick in the video.  Click here to download the Three Little Birds Lick : )

Bob Marley and the Wailers released “Three Little Birds” as a single in 1980. The song reached the Top 20 in the UK, peaking at number 17. It is one of Bob Marley’s most popular songs. The song has been covered by numerous other artists. The source of Bob Marley’s inspiration for the lyrics of “Three Little Birds” remains disputed. Tony Gilbert, a long time friend of Marley, was present at the time he was writing the song and elaborated, “Bob got inspired by a lot of things around him, he observed life. I remember the three little birds. They were pretty birds, canaries, who would come by the windowsill at Hope Road.”

However, three female singers from the reggae group I Threes who did shows with Marley claim it is a reference to them. I Threes member Marcia Griffiths remarked, “After the song was written, Bob would always refer to us as the Three Little Birds. After a show, there would be an encore, sometimes people even wanted us to go back onstage four times. Bob would still want to go back and he would say, ‘What is my Three Little Birds saying?'”

Monty Alexander recorded a cover of “Three Little Birds” in January 1992 and, in 1999, he released it as a hit single. The Cover was also produced from him and unlike the original the Monty Alexander version is very Jazz-heavy. The original Length is 3:00.

“Three Little Birds” was released as the first single by British child singer, Connie Talbot on 10 June 2008. It was taken from the 2008 rerelease of her 2007 album,Over the Rainbow. Talbot released a music video to publicise the single, which was filmed in Jamaica. The release reached number 3 on the UK Independent Singles Chart, and number 1 on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales chart in the United States. Talbot received attention from the British press because of the single’s success, with the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph attributing her success in America to her appeal to the Christian market, and to the success of her videos on YouTube. Talbot’s father, Gavin, spoke about the song reaching number one, saying “When we received the phone call we were driving back from doing a round of radio interviews in London and Connie was asleep in the back of the car. When we told her she just took it in her stride. I just cannot believe that she is number one in America. We are all very proud of her. It is a big achievement – people have just taken a shine to her.” He also said it was “a big shock to hear she was number one. It is tremendous.” As of November 2008, the single has sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide.

Lava Easy Ukulele Tutorial

Click here to download lyrics and chords for Lava.

If you’re new to ukulele, Lava is a great song to learn because it only uses three chords, C, F and G7. James Ford Murphy says his song was inspired by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and in fact, he used the same strumming pattern.  So learning to play Lava will help you get ready to take on Over the Rainbow which has more chords and harder chord shapes.

Lava was theatrically released by Pixar Animation Studios Inside Out on June 19, 2015. Director James Ford Murphy and producer Andrea Warren premiered the computer-animated musical short film at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival on June 14, 2014. produced. The soundtrack of the film, also titled Lava, was released on June 16, 2015, as a digital single and as a bonus track on the CD release of Inside Out’s soundtrack.

The short film is a musical love story that takes place over millions of years.  Murphy says Lava was inspired by the “isolated beauty of tropical islands and the explosive allure of ocean volcanoes.” He learned to play the ukulele and began writing a song. He pitched the idea to Pixar head John Lasseter — musically.”I was terrified, but I just went in and let rip,” he says. “You’ve got to just throw yourself into it.” Lasseter loved the pitch and green lit the project.

“To generate stories I think about things I can geek out over, things that really touch me,” says Murphy, who’s been at Pixar for 19 years. Murphy fell in love with Hawaii after visiting on honeymoon. “Hawaii really touches me. The geology, the people, the amount of music that has come out of this remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean — it just blows me away,” he says. “The fact that there are still active volcanoes in this place, the fact that there’s a whole chain of islands that has sunk back into the sea… it just became this fascination.”

Anyway, if you are fascinated by volcanoes, Hawaii, and love stories, you’ll lava playing Lava!

How to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Here’s Jenny’s lesson on how to play Over The Rainbow  as covered by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

Click here to download a pdf of the lyrics and chord changes:

Over The Rainbow

The decision to record a cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow was said to be a last-minute decision by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’ (Iz or Izzy) and his producer Jon de Mello. But what a great decision it was! Iz’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World holds the distinction of being the longest-leading number one hit on any of the Billboard song charts, having spent 185 weeks at number one on the publication’s World Digital Songs chart.

It reached #12 on Billboard’s Hot Digital Tracks chart the week of January 31, 2004 (for the survey week ending January 18, 2004). It passed the 2 million paid downloads mark in the USA by September 27, 2009, and then sold 3 million in the USA as of October 2, 2011. And as of October 2014, the song had sold over 4.2 million digital copies.

The Hawaii state flag flew at half-staff on July 10, 1997, the day of Kamakawiwoʻole’s funeral. Hiskoa wood coffin lay in state at the state capitol building in Honolulu. He was the third person in Hawaiian history to be awarded this honor, and the only one who was not a government official. Approximately ten thousand people attended the funeral. Thousands of fans gathered as his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at Mākua Beach on July 12, 1997. Scenes from the funeral and scattering of Kamakawiwoʻole’s ashes were featured in official music videos of “Over the Rainbow” released posthumously by Mountain Apple Company; as of July 2015, the two videos as featured on YouTube have collectively received over 198 million views.

Because of his skillful ukulele playing and incorporation of other genres, such as jazz and reggae, Kamakawiwoʻole remains a very strong influence on Hawaiian music.

Are you a ukulele beginner?  Click here for a free 9 video course to get you started fast!

Not sure how to read tab?  Want to get started playing melodies on your ukulele?  Sign up for our FREE STUFF here to get a FREE 7 video course on how to read tabs.

When you’re ready, our new book Easy Ukulele Songs: Five with Five Chords  will take you further into the wonderful world of tab and fingerpicking melodies.  It’s available as an ebook or a print book on Amazon.

Happy Strumming!

How to Play The Lion Sleeps Tonight

lion sleeps

Click here to download a pdf of the lyrics and chord changes:

The Lion Sleeps Tonight


Are you a ukulele beginner?  Click here for a free 9 video course to get you started fast!

Not sure how to read tab?  Want to get started playing melodies on your ukulele?  Sign up for our FREE STUFF here to get a FREE 7 video course on how to read tabs.

When you’re ready, our new book Easy Ukulele Songs: Five with Five Chords  will take you further into the wonderful world of tab and fingerpicking melodies.  It’s available as an ebook or a print book on Amazon.

Happy Strumming!

21-songs-6-days-book-cover-3d-slant-left

Theme from the Addams Family

Jenny has created another fun lesson video in time for Halloween.  The sing and strum part of the song is very easy – only three chords – our old friends, C, F and G7.

But you can add a dash of Halloween excitement with the fun fingerpicked intro.

Here is an image of the intro.  Click to make it larger.

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 2.33.44 PM

Notice the numbers in the middle of the staff.  These are the finger numbers to use as you play the cute little lick.  The tab shows you what strings and frets to use.

Click to download a pdf of the intro, chords and lyrics: Addams Family

Not sure how to read tab?  Want to get started playing melodies on your ukulele?  Sign up for our FREE STUFF here to get a FREE 7 video course on how to read tabs.

When you’re ready, our new book Easy Ukulele Songs: Five with Five Chords  will take you further into the wonderful world of tab and fingerpicking melodies.  It’s available as an ebook or a print book on Amazon.

Happy Strumming!

Amazing Grace for Ukulele

Here’s a video lesson on one of the all time great American spiritual songs.

Amazing Grace uses these five chords.

grace

Click to download ukulele tab for the melody of Amazing Grace :  Amazing Grace

If you love this song, check out Easy Ukulele Songs: Five with Five Chords. 

You’ll learn “Amazing Grace” plus four other great ukulele standards.

Jenny, I Got Your Number

Jenny Peters had a great summer bike tour trip. And of course she brought her ukulele along with her. She learned this fun 80’s pop song because her fellow bikers kept singing it to her!