I was recently introduced to the music of Jake Shimabukuro, a ukulele player, of all the music in the world. I seem to remember some guy in a yellow suit in the 1970s tiptoeing through the tulips playing the ukelele. And I sort of remember thinking that the ukulele was the worst sounding instrument on the face of the planet and, to make matters worse, his voice was screechy and high.
But Jake plays a piece by George Harrison named "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on a ukulele. It is almost a religious experience for me. So closely wired into my brain, it's like every one one of my nerves resonates to this man playing what I had previously thought to be a totally ridiculous instrument, a mini-guitar for children.
I listen to this piece and goosebumps fly across my skin. It's almost like having an orgasm. Almost. There isn't a better word to describe the effect this music has on me. I close my eyes and let the music drift through my body, enjoying every last drop of sensation, both aural and physical. The music is strong and passionate, tender and wild by turns. It makes me want to run through the rain naked as the day I was born. Unfortunately or fortunately, it's winter and there's snow outside so I manage to restrain myself. You can thank me later. But talk about inspiring! It is simply amazing. I don't know if Jake ever tours but if by some chance Jake is reading this, then PLEASE come to Toronto to give a concert. I will be first in the ticket line.
This man has talent. In spades. I watched a YouTube video of him playing this piece and watching his fingers move blindingly fast over the strings is something to behold. I never in my wildest imaginings would have thought a ukulele could possibly sound so wonderful. My instrument of choice is a piano but ukulele is definitely on my radar now. I even downloaded his album "Gently Weeps" from iTunes the other day, I was and am so enthralled. If someone told me that one day I would be downloading/buying ukulele music I would have laughed myself to death.
You have to listen to this guy to believe me. Go on, I'll wait while you watch and listen.
Now wasn't that amazing? So now you are thinking one of a number of things: that I am totally insane, because it's not Nickelback (who I like) and it's not classical (which I LOVE) or Wow, that was unique and wonderful.
I'm hoping you go with unique and wonderful, but everyone has their own musical tastes. I don't know how much of a following Jake has but I'd wager it is more of an underground movement. I had never heard of him or his music. Which is a real shame. We get music that has been pre-packaged, pre-marketed and pre-digested with a pretty face at which to look. Musical factories who manufacture the next pop icon. American idol stuff. Whatever.
This is authentic music to my thinking. It is individualistic and real, and more appealing for being so. Evocative and thoroughly entertaining. It is what music should be - appealing on many levels and wonderfully nuanced.