Ukulele Video Lesson - Everybody Plays The Fool

This ukulele video lesson is the first lesson for 2015. Happy New Years!

Everybody Plays the Fool is a Grammy Award winning soul/R&B song released in 1972. The most well known version of the song was performed by The Main Ingredient and written by JR Bailey, Rudy Clark and Ken Williams. In the years since, however, it has been rerecorded by Aaron Neville, who had a top ten hit with the track in 1991. There have been several other covers of the song released over the year, as well.

Playing this song

I'll be teaching you this song in the key of Bb. The rhythm is slowed down to make it easier to learn.

The song’s structure is fairly straightforward. After a brief, spoken, intro, the refrain/hook comes in. This intro is not included in the ukulele video lesson. The verses that follow showcase the vocal ability of the performers involved, with the instruments taking on a mellow, soft tone and providing the underpinning for the vocalists to showcase their abilities over.

The song has two verses and two different versions of the refrain. The song’s main hook is a simple riff that plays under the main melody.

On this song, the ukulele player needs to lay back and let the vocals carry the song. This is not a particularly complex piece for the instrumentalists involved, making it ideal for a beginner that wants to learn to shore up the song while the lead performers get their chance to shine. For particularly gifted singers who can also play their ukuleles while they sing, this is an excellent piece for showing off their abilities.

Note that, on the refrain, each line as a chord shift on the last few words of the line: “sometimes”; “listen baby”; “I ain’t lying”; “I wanna say it again”. These lend a feeling of movement to the refrain, dividing one line from the next and should be emphasized as appropriate.

A ukulele could quite easily be used to play the short hook that makes the song so catchy, which would definitely provide a unique feel while still preserving the light and airy tone of the original. If you do plan to perform the vocal parts of the music, this is one song where you will definitely want good singers.

A little history about this ukulele video lesson

This song has been a worldwide hit, spanning multiple musical categories including Adult Contemporary and R&B. The song has also popped up in television shows and music and has even been covered by electronic musicians in the 1980s, quite a divergence from its soulful roots.

The Aaron Neville version is nearly as well known as The Main Ingredient version and searching for the song is as likely to bring up one as it is the other. For the original version, be sure you’re listening to a performance by The Main Ingredient, of which there are several available online.

This song is notable for its lush vocal harmonies and for the tremendous range exhibited by the singers during the performance of the song. One of the singers, Cuba Gooding is actually the father of the actor Cuba Gooding Junior, who went on to have a successful career as an entertainer of his own, though in a different area of performance, of course.

Everybody Plays the Fool is a good introduction to the R&B and soul music of the late 1960s and early 1970s and provides a rather challenging piece for ukulele players who want to learn to provide the canvas on which the singers in the song create the melody.

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