For this week we bring you an easy two-chord song with Down in the Valley ukulele tutorial. While you can play the song with just two chords, Jenny plays it in two keys to keep it more interesting. Down in the Valley is a popular blues folk song that’s been around since the 1920s. Consequently, it has several versions and at times the lyrics differ. But it’s a wonderful and easy song to learn on the ukulele.
TWO CHORDS IN TWO KEYS
So let’s start with the chords. As previously stated, Jenny presents Down in the Valley ukulele tutorial in two keys – key of C and key of F. First of all, the two chords for key of C are C and G7. Secondly, the chords for key of F are F and C7. However, you also need to learn an additional chord for the turn around that will connect the two keys and this is G minor.
Of course, if you’re a beginner and want to stick with just two chords, you can opt for just one key and play the chords for that key throughout the song. Subscribe here to get copies of sheet music every week. Additionally, contact us to get a copy of music sheets or tabs for songs featured in the previous weeks that you’ve missed.
DOWN IN THE VALLEY UKULELE TUTORIAL
By the way, strumming pattern for the song is an easy D-DU-D (d-down, U-up) repetition. So we now proceed with Down in the Valley ukulele tutorial below:
AMERICAN FOLK SONG
Down in the Valley is a famous American folk song that is also referred to as Birmingham Jail. As with folk songs, the lyrics differ with different singers and recordings. But the song is basically a courting song imploring someone with these words “throw your arms around me, give my heart ease.” And at the last two verses of the song inviting the lady being wooed to “write me a letter… in care of the Birmingham jail.”
NOTABLE RECORDINGS OF DOWN IN THE VALLEY
Tom Darby and Jimmie Tarlton recorded the earliest recording of the song. Columbia Records released this in 1927. Folk musician and twelve-string guitar expert Huddie William Ledbetter, or more popularly known as Lead Belly, also sang Down in the Valley. Although in a version he sung in 1934, he used “Shreveport jail” instead of “Birmingham jail.” Other notable musicians who recorded this song include The Andrews Sisters, Patti Page, Bing Crosby and Jo Stafford.
Down in the Valley is one of the ten bonus songs in our classic book, 21 Songs in 6 Days: Learn Ukulele the Easy Way!