A Big thank you to Newms for inviting me to post my series on bassist/vocalists. I’m going for a roughly chronological theme here..by “roughly” I mean that if I get to the mid-80′s and suddenly think of a guy from ’72, i’ll just stick it in. Who else to start with but the Daddy:
When it comes to the bass guitar, there are two people whose importance cannot be overstated: Leo Fender, who pretty much got everything right with his first attempt when he invented the Precision Bass, and Paul McCartney, who elevated it to an art form, and almost single-handedly saw to it that it was recognised as a serious instrument in its own right.
McCartney wasn’t satisfied with simply underpinning the song, he wove wonderful countermelodies between the chords, demanding the listener’s ear. Take the bassline to “With a little help from my Friends” – taken alone, it is a wonderful melody, never resting on the root notes, but moving around with a great fluidity. But what also elevated McCartney into a very select group was the fact that he was a lead vocalist, and probably the first of his kind that doubled on bass. Traditionally, its a lot easier to strum along on rhythm, or intersperse your vocal with lead breaks, than to play lines that cut directly across what you’re singing. McCartney did this to perfection, unwittingly laying the blueprint for the role of the bassist/vocalist in the glut of power trios that would follow in the Beatles’ wake. This series aims to highlight the bassists who’ve taken on the mantle of singer – interestingly, in almost every case – to great success.
Suggested McCartney basslines to listen to: With a little help from my Friends; Penny Lane; Come together. Suggested McCartney vocals: Got to get you into my life; I’m Down