I've had a couple of people ask me whether I was upset by Rhodri Marsden's piece today in the Independent entitled "Am I the only person in the world who hates the ukulele?". Um, no, I thought it was funny in places and a bit silly and provocative in the way that I'm sure I'd be every now and then if I had a column in a Sunday paper and (I don't know how it works, but I assume) having someone else edit what I say anyway.
I don't know Rhodri, the closest I've been is seeing him play the saw at Interesting 2007 when I was one of the comperes, but I get that he's a real musician and I imagine this just seemed like a funny idea for a piece and a chance to wind a few people up. But even taking this article seriously, which I don't think one should, having a go at ukuleles now is a bit like having a go at synth players in the eighties because "everyone" had a Casio PT-1.
It struck me as a bit like that piece sometime in the last year when they declared "peak beard". I wasn't offended by that and I didn't for a moment think of having a shave. I don't have a beard because of fashion and I don't play uke just because everyone else is (are they? no.). I also saw an article today declaring the death of the hipster, which let people know that if they couldn't identify a hipster already, they were those skinny boys with big beards, tattoos and playing a ukulele while nibbling a cupcake. Or something. Silly. I'm not skinny, I don't have any tattoos (that I know of), I don't eat cupcakes and I have a modest little beard. But one day walking through Austin at SXSW the other year, someone I didn't know who was introduced to me by someone else I didn't really know, said with a sneer "Oh you're English and you play the ukulele, isn't that a bit twee? Do you force your audience to eat crumpets?"
For the record. I'm not a fan of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain either - I think that playing Radiohead or Coldplay songs on the uke is a bit boring. I can't get on with mass uke-ups, although I approve of their democratisation of music - it's partly my narcissistic desire to stand out from the crowd and partly that the playing sinks to the lowest common denominator - also not every uke player can and should be allowed to sing! If I'm going to play with other people, I'd much rather they were playing different, complementary instruments and preferably that they are all better musicians than I am. I'm glad that ukes are replacing recorders as the instrument of choice for introducing children to music, because recorders.
So yeah, thank you for your concern and thank you for remembering I'm that bloke who plays the ukulele, but I'm not upset and I certainly don't take it personally.