Watch George Harrison Perform ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ on Ukulele


George Harrison’s most ukulele-centric performance on record is his reading of “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” the 1931 song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler and first recorded that year by singer-bandleader Cab Calloway. The tune appears on Harrison’s posthumous final album, Brainwashed.

Check out the Fall 2021 issue of Ukulele for our in-depth feature on Harrison‘s great love of ukulele.

Though the notation in the Fall 2021 issue is based on the video performance above (with chums Joe Brown and Mark Flanagan on guitar, Jools Holland on piano, Herbie Flowers on tuba, and Ray Cooper on percussion), you can also use it to play along with the album version—just keep in mind that there’s a two-bar false start on the latter. While in the video Harrison plays a Kamaka Liliu six-string ukulele in low-G tuning, this arrangement will work well in reentrant tuning and on any type of uke. 


Following an eight-bar intro, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” has a classic 32-bar AABA song form, in which each section is eight bars. This means you really have just 16 measures of music to learn, at least in terms of the chord progression. Start by familiarizing yourself with all of the chord frames and then switching between them, isolating any troublesome spots. It might, for instance, be trickiest to switch between the F and C-aug, as these two chords do not share any common fingers. 

Once you’re comfortable with all the shapes, try strumming in a steady eighth-note motion, down on the beats and up on the “ands.” Go for a light swing feel and try to match the lighthearted mood of Harrison’s interpretation. 

Due to copyright restrictions, we are unable to post notation or tablature for this musical work. If you have a digital or physical copy of the Fall 2021 issue of Ukulele Magazine, you will find the music on page 56.

The Beatles For Ukulele book

Play along with The Beatles with The Beatles for Ukulele! Unlike many books of this type, each arrangement in this book includes every measure of the song, as it was originally recorded—nothing is left out. And when you come to instrumental sections, the chords are provided so you can keep strumming your uke.