“Tonight You Belong To Me” From “The Jerk” for Ukulele
I recently bought ukulele to add to my arsenal of instruments. I watched “The Jerk” again recently and the ukulele duet between Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters inspired me. For my first ukulele I decided to take a chance on a very unique instrument hand made by a Chinese maker on Ebay. I call it the “Bat-Uke” and I think you can see why.
As I set out to learn the song, I quickly realized it was going to be very challenging for an instrument that was totally unfamiliar to me. I started researching and watching youtube videos and reading ukulele forums. I very quickly found that there was not a single spot-on, correct version out there to my ears.
You can barely see the fretboard at all in the movie to see what Steve’s hands are doing but through my research I found out that it didn’t really matter, as even though Steve Martin is an incredible banjo player, he was miming the ukulele which was actually played by a jazz ukulele player named Lyle Ritz. I started painstakingly listening to every chord over and over for hours, picking out the individual notes in the chords. I played with all kinds of alternate tunings using my ears and what made for the most logical fingerings. After twice thinking that I had found the weird alternate tuning he was using, I eventually and finally came to the epiphany that I think he is just using standard tuning but tuned one and a half steps down. Maybe he used a concert or tenor sized ukulele (as opposed to the “standard” soprano).
I finally came up with something that worked and sounded pretty dead on to me. Of course, I’m sure many will disagree as is the nature of the beast.
So here’s my take! Tonight You Belong To Me
I feel very confident about most of it. A few of the chords are too hard to hear to know for sure but this sounded most accurate to me. Probably not perfect but I feel it’s about 95% and definitely much closer than anything else I’ve seen or found online.
Forgive any notation errors. I never notate music and just downloaded a program and also my music notation knowledge is way rusty! I didn’t notate the exact strumming pattern. I mostly just used quarter notes even though he sometimes throws in some swing eighth notes when he feels like it. I mostly just wanted to get the chords right.