With this latest ukulele video lesson, I'll be teaching you to play "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers. Some might not be, what many people would expect to make a good ukulele song at first blush. It's something of a dark song, but it turns out that the ukulele is actually a perfect fit for this amazing tune. One of the other great things is that the song is easy to play. You will only need to know a handful of chords - Am, G, E7, and Dm. Notice that three out of the four chords are minor chords. That's because of the darker and more brooding nature of the song.
When you are learning "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers on the ukulele, you should approach it just as you would any other song. Break it down into the individual pieces and work on them one at a time. Only put them together once you have each of them mastered. Once you start playing, it might surprise you that you can get such a dark mood out of what you typically probably think of as your bright little instrument.
The song debuted on Bill Withers' album Just As I Am and was the artist's breakout hit. It reached number six on the U.S. R&B Chart and all the way to number three on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Overall, it was the #23 song for 1971. Strangely enough, "Ain't No Sunshine" was actually the B-side to a song called "Harlem". The DJs that received the disc seemed to like "Ain't No Sunshine" better and played that, which turned out better for Withers.
Anyone who knows "Ain't No Sunshine" certainly knows the part where he says the words "I know" 26 times. He had originally used that as a place holder and wanted to write more lyrics for that spot. He said that other musicians told him to leave it in. At the time, he was still working at a factory and thought that it was a good idea to listen to what they told him, since he didn't consider himself a pro.
It turns out that it was probably a good idea given the genesis of the song. Withers' inspiration for the song came from watching a movie called Days of Wine and Roses, which was about alcoholics. He wanted to write a song about people who would keep going back to something even though it wasn't good for them. Thus, the words "I know" almost become something of a mantra in the song.
The song has been covered a number of times as well. Most notably in 1972 by Michael Jackson who also had a hit single with the song. It was also on his album Got to Be There. Black Label Society recorded the song in 2013 for their album Unblackened.
"Ain't No Sunshine" also has the distinction of being number 285 on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time from Rolling Stone. Make it part of your song list.Return to Home Page
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