The ukulele, to me, is a very peaceful instrument because you can’t possibly strum an ukulele and be angry. It’s almost impossible. Just saying the name or saying “ukulele,” it’s hard to say that and not smile.
I remember when I first started playing it around town, and I’d be walking around the airport or walking around the city that I’m in with my ukulele case, and people would stop me, and they would ask me, “Hey, what’s in the case?” They’re expecting to hear, “Oh, a violin” or “a mandolin.” But when I say “ukulele,” their eyes just light up. They’ll look at me, “That’s, that’s a ukulele!” And then they’ll share some story of how their father or grandfather played the ukulele, or how they got married in Hawaii and there was this band that was playing and there was an ukulele player.
It gets people excited. It makes people happy. It triggers something in people’s minds, something that they associate good things with the instrument. That’s how I feel. I believe that if I had said, “Oh, this was a violin” or “a mandolin” or any other instrument, I think the conversation would have ended with just, “Oh, OK.” But with the ukulele, it’s a different story. You have a completely different connection with the person. It’s like people just let their guards down. They’ll let their guard down and just open up. I’m a total stranger to them. It’s fascinating.
I joke around a lot. I tell people if everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place. I really believe that, because when people are feeling good, and they’re happy, and they have no defenses up, then it’s one world, one love.