Letters: Les Paul, Yes; Ukuleles, Yes and No

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Scott Simon reads from listeners' e-mails. Topics include appreciation for recent stories on a tribute to body donors; the music of Les Paul; and mixed reviews for ukulele music. He also corrects a recent reference to George Mikan's old team — they were the Minneapolis Lakers.


Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of typing; music)

SIMON: Many of you responded to Susan Keese's story last month about the Dartmouth University Medical School's annual spring memorial service. First-year medical students there honor the cadavers they've studied all year. Nurse Laurie Webb(ph) said she was moved to tears while listening. She wrote, `As a nurse, I still remember after 36 years the body of the elderly black man who as my first introduction to the intricacies of the human body. The Dartmouth story brought all those emotions back and made me pull over and grab a Kleenex. Thank you for causing me to remember a generous man who donated his body and contributed to my education as a nurse.'

Our May 28th performance chat with songs from a Random House, the band that tries to put the wow-wee into ukeleles, sent many uke fans to their keyboards. Eric Fleckles(ph) from Hawaii wrote, `I wanted to point out that these fine musicians are certainly quite creative and talented, but are not the pioneers--have taken the instruments to new heights and different directions. We have many here in the islands that have a mastery of the instrument that would quite simply blow any music aficionado's mind.'

Art Wegweiser(ph) of Endinboro, Pennsylvania, says, `Nice try, but I still rank the uke above even the accordion as my least-liked modern Western instruments.'

The band's music reminded listener Andrew Teton(ph) from Santa Barbara of what he calls `the most poignant moment for me, during Paul McCartney's last tour of America. Mr. McCartney brought out a ukelele he was given by his friend and bandmate George Harrison who adored the ukelele. He then sang George's touching love song "Something," accompanying himself sweetly on the uke.'

Several listeners called or wrote last week to correct my identification of the late Hall of Fame basketball center George Mikan. I said he played for the Minnesota Lakers. They were the Minneapolis Lakers before they moved to Los Angeles.

Last week, reporter Tom Vitale filed a story about Les Paul on the occasion of his 90th birthday. And that prompted Jack Schultz(ph) to write, `I grew up with one ear glued to our one-speaker hi-fi and begged for guitar lessons because of Les and Mary's records. In those days--early '50s--guitar playing was odd, but I quickly moved through a succession of Les Paul-model guitars and had the thrill of playing with Les at a guitarist convention when I was 12. Now, after 50 years as a part-time guitarist and full-time university professor who never rose beyond radio jingles and club dates, I still listen to "How High the Moon" by Les and Mary when I need musical inspiration or need to get excited about delivering a lecture.'

Well, we're inspired by your letters. Please, come to our Web site, npr.org, find WEEKEND EDITION SATURDAY, and send us an e-mail. And please tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name.

(Soundbite of music; typing)

SIMON: Twenty-two minutes before the hour.

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