Friday, June 09, 2006

The Ten Greatest Bass Parts of All Time

This isn't really the ten greatest of all time, but it is a list of my ten favorite bass parts that I can recall off the top of my head. The playing might not be that sophisticated and the songs aren't necessarily my favorites (though I like them all), but all these bass parts deserve close attention. So let's hear it for the bassist! The list:
  • "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" by the Smiths. The way it moves effortlessly through the song, the rising little bass chords sprinkled throughout, the little hiccupped descending part, it just kills me. He really used his noggin on this one.
  • "The Real Me" by the Who. Okay, this isn't exactly understated, but it is some of the the most insane playing I've ever heard. Plus, the tone is quite nice.
  • "Taxman" by the Beatles. There are several I could have chosen by Paul McCartney, but this one blows my mind. I think he always ramped things up when George Harrison wrote a song just to prove how awesome he could be. Whatever the motivation, the guy wrote incredible bass parts.
  • "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie. It ain't fancy, but how many bass parts can get into your head like that? "Another One Bites the Dust" could have made it here too, but the guys doing construction in the apartment listen to it a lot, so I can't help but hate it a little. It will pass.
  • "Think" by Aretha Franklin. Without making too much of itself, the incredibly active bass is the driving force behind this song. If I may mix metaphors, the bassist really deserves his propers on this one.
  • "Radio Free Europe" by R.E.M. Specifically, the run in the "Straight off the boat" (or is it "bus"?) part. When I was learning how to enjoy music other than classic rock, this bass part leapt out at me as something "different." It was actually life changing, I'm not afraid to say.
  • "Mountain Song" by Jane's Addiction. Totally simple, but you should try playing it some time. It's really fun.
  • "Waiting Room" by Fugazi. This guy has written so many great parts, but this is the one that really stands out as I sit here sifting through my bass memories. Also really fun to play, by the way.
  • "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel. Call me a romantic (or a cheese ball), but when you hear that fat bass come in, preparing you for the "sail on silver girl" line, how can you not get chills?
  • "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed. You didn't seriously think I'd leave this one off, did you?

I know I'm missing thousands, but let's just leave it at these ten. Feel free to add your choices in the comments section.


Anonymous said...

did you forget that the beatles were the new kids on the block of the 60's?

Anonymous said...

'Rain' by the Beatles has a better bass part than 'Taxman'. Also, since Paul McCartney plays the solo on Taxman, is it really him playing the bass? Time will tell.