I learnt to whistle over the summer, and accomplishment of which I’m much prouder than it really merits.
I don’t mean whistling a tune. I’ve been able to do that since I was very little. (My Gran would say, “Oh, it’s Whistling Rufus again!” which I assumed to be some performer but I’ve just looked it up and it’s the name of a song.)
No, I mean whistling through my fingers: the loud shriek used by everyone, it seems, but me. Over the years I had tried and tried but could only summon a pathetic rasp of air.
Then my son learnt to do it and I gave it another go – to no avail. “No, dad,” he said, “Put your fingers like this,” and he showed me. “Shove them further in your mouth.”
The result was instant! I could do it. I laughed with delight and did it again and again until everyone told me to shut up, including my son. They didn’t realise I had nearly fifty years of whistling to catch up on.
As for whistling tunes, well I’ve always loved a song with whistling in it. Seriously, who doesn’t? There are more than you might think.
Rolling Stone Magazine has produce a list of the fifteen best whistling songs of all time except it’s rubbish and doesn’t include the best whistling song ever (see below) so I’ve decided to make my own top 5.
5. Lazy Song by Bruno Mars
There’s not all that much whistling in this, really -only three notes. But, the whistling bit was added for the single release after the album track was recorded, so there is a version without it. It sounds completely wrong.
4 Bridge On The River Kwai Theme
There are loads of versions of this, but this is the full whistling one.
3. Magic Moments by Perry Como
There are crisper recordings of this song on YouTube, but this is the only live version that I could find.
2. Jealous Guy by John Lennon
You’ve got to wait a bit for the whistling in this one. It comes about halfway through, which makes me think he was stuck for a middle eight, so just whistled the main melody instead. Works a treat!
- I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman by Whistling Jack Smith
The finest whistling record ever, if you ask me, and it comes with some added trivia. “Whistling Jack Smith” was in fact a performer called John O’Neill, who recorded it for a set fee and received no royalties. It’s not even him on the video. That’s an actor called Coby Well who was hired for Top Of The Pops. John O’Neill also did the whistling bit in the theme for The Good, The Bad & The Ugly