Thanks, Mark! Thanks, Lyle!

July 27, 2008

Journal, Lauren

So, I’ve pretty much got one good life story to tell, and most of you have heard it already.  For the sake of any new readers, I’m repeating it.

I am a ukulele enthusiast.  I bought one for my classroom a few years back and memories of the one I had as a kid came flooding back.   I thought that the best song to learn to play on it would be “Tonight You Belong To Me”, as sung by Steve Martin and Bernadete Peters in the movie The Jerk. I searched around for the sheet music and bought a ukulele book that had the fingerings printed.  I wasn’t sure how to play the first two chords and I needed to have someone explain it to me, or perhaps watch someone play it – someone like….. Steve Martin!  Now, this was back in the day when the internet was young and YouTube hadn’t been invented yet, so I rented the movie to see if I could see how Steve Martin played it. Turns out he’s faking the fingerings.  (You can see that here.)  Further investigation revealed that Lyle Ritz, the man who wrote the song book I had, actually played it.  I took a gamble, looked up his Hawaiian phone number on the internet, and called him up.

Now, you should know that he is famous in his own right.  He’s been the bass player on Righteous Brothers and Beach Boys recordings, among many other famous musicians.  Shaking in my boots, I asked his wife (who answered the phone) if this was the home of Lyle Ritz who played the ukulele.
“Yes, dear,” she replied.
“Um, could I ask him a question about how to play something?  I promise I’m not crazy.”
“Certainly.  (aside) Lyle – it’s for you.”
I bumbled my way through explaining the trouble I was having and he was so kind and helpful.  When he cleared up my confusion he asked, “So, how do you know this song?”  I explained how I liked the movie so much and wanted to learn it.  In the cutest way he said, “You know, I played it for that scene.”
“I know!”  How cute is that!

Now we’re caught up to last week.  A package came in the mail from Mark Guiterrez, the leader of our ukulele group, and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet in your life.  He had been at a uke convention and sent me this:


No, not the ukulele – that’s mine.  It was a cd that Mark made (and is quite excellent, if I may say so) and a book!  It was funny because I’ve almost bought this book twice, but put it back.  Check out what’s on page 3 –

Lyle Ritz is awesome!

Isn’t that hilarious??  What a guy!  What a couple of guys!

About Lauren

Lauren Sommerer is a preschool teacher who likes to build prototypes, grow cats, cook things once, save money, reduce, reuse and recycle.

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14 Responses to “Thanks, Mark! Thanks, Lyle!”

  1. Kitt Said on:

    Wow! What a great story!

    And great guys!

    I believe a uke-playing video may now be in order.


  2. Brad Said on:

    “operators are standing by” Ha!

    Hey, I saw Lloyd in one of the pictures on Mark’s myspace. I think you may not just be making this story up.


  3. Beth Said on:

    That’s AWESOME!

    Do you think Lyle still has that argyle sweater and might autograph it and send it to me? I like it.


  4. Karla Said on:

    Does that satisfy #5 on your list? To meet someone famous?

    That is so cool! 🙂


  5. Peggy Said on:

    Amazing!! May I have your autograph before you become to rich & famous to be bothered by us little people?


  6. Jill Said on:

    Ana wants to learn to play her ukulele so now have to move back here and become her teacher! She got it out last night and it is quite pretty. Any suggestions on a book for her? BTW, that’s an awesome story. Maybe I should call him!


  7. Deanne Said on:

    I’m smiling from ear to ear thinking of you calling (all nervous) and Lyle being so gracious. And then to get the book signed with probably the most personal note in autographing history… it’s a WONDERFUL story!


  8. Lauren's Dad Said on:

    So, when can we expect your CD to come out?


  9. Lauren's mom Said on:

    I saw pictures of you and Lloyd on his website! And maybe a picture of your ukelele with the white flowers on it?


  10. Lauren's mom Said on:

    Mark G’s site (not Lyle’s).


  11. Annette Said on:

    That one lady reminds me of Ella Jenkins, and you KNOW she plays the UKE!


  12. Keren Said on:

    OK. So now what you have to do is GO TO HAWAII! You should plan a trip with Lloyd and call Lyle beforehand and tell him you might stop by to say ‘hi’. Take a camera! Wear the shirts! Go in the middle of winter!


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