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McCartney's "best" Beatles bass lines


Richard W

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Given that Paul's playing on the Sgt. Peppers album is one of the main reasons I became a bass player, I'm a little surprised that only one song off that album made the cut. What about "With A Little Help From My Friends", "Fixing A Hole" or "Lovely Rita"?

 

"Of all the world's bassists, I'm one of them!" - Lug
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Hard for me to take the list seriously without Something. But that's me.

 

I agree. Come Together is probably one of my least favorite Beatles tunes, and Abbey Road has Something, She's So Heavy, and the medley, each of which has better bass lines in my opinion.

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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I love Taxman. 13 bar verses. yum, yum.

 

Come Together is one of those basslines that everyone knows and immediately knows what song it is. That's a characteristic of a great bassline IMNSHO.

 

Even though I have transcribed the Something bassline and teach it to my students, I will never stop thinking that Paul was overplaying on the greatest song that George ever wrote.

 

 

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*YAWN*

 

ANOTHER one of these lists? Don't any of these music websites have something substantive to offer their readers than their ridiculous top ten lists? The pattern is tiring.

 

It's very easy to pick out some gems from Paul McCartney's bass playing. This list falls short. The absence of "Lovely Rita" and "Something" make this list incredibly suspect.

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Even though I have transcribed the Something bassline and teach it to my students, I will never stop thinking that Paul was overplaying on the greatest song that George ever wrote.

Paul is an excellent musician. Anybody who can perform solo as a singer/pianist is taking care of a lot: melody (voice), harmony (right hand) and bass (left hand).

 

It's hard to dial back that kind of ability.

 

That's why I think Paul overplays "Something". He's trying to make it mentally challenging so he doesn't get bored.

 

My vocal range is more like George's. I can sing "Something" but to do so while playing Paul's bass line is pretty near impossible. Most of the other George/Ringo songs are similar in that they are hard to sing lead and play bass simultaneously. ("Taxman" is another example.)

 

It may be that Paul's best bass playing is when he's concentrating solely on playing bass.

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Come Together is one of those basslines that everyone knows and immediately knows what song it is. That's a characteristic of a great bassline IMNSHO.

Agreed.

 

I often have to play this song in a guitar/bass/drums trio. Everything is fine except for the guitar solo and the outro. For these sections the rhythm guitar/electric piano is sorely missed so I often play these parts instead of just the roots that Paul plays.

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Most of my favorite Beatles bass lines were played by Harrison or Lennon.

 

Most of my favorite Beatles lead guitar lines were played by McCartney.

 

It's all relative though. :-)

 

I'm just merely expressing my shock when I found out over the course of the past few years that the bass lines that inspired me to become a bassist were by McCartney (e.g. Lennon played Bass VI on "Come Together"; Harrison played the bass on "Taxman" while McCartney carried the lead -- and these are just two examples, with "Helter Skelter" being yet another one with switched roles).

 

Nevertheless, McCartney's signature on the instrument is unmistakable, but I'm hesitant to list my favorite Beatles bass lines without first consulting a very deeply detailed book to make sure they meet the topic header's criterium of being by McCartney. :-)

 

It's also well-known that when The Beatles switched roles, they tried to mimic each other. McCartney reused this trick years later when he and Elvis Costello collaborated on each other's contemporaneous albums and deliberately tried to fool people as to who contributed which parts.

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Even though I have transcribed the Something bassline and teach it to my students, I will never stop thinking that Paul was overplaying on the greatest song that George ever wrote.

 

 

George has been quoted as saying that at first Paul seemed to have been treating the track like "a bloody bass solo". But this bit from one of the engineers speaks volumes about how both George and Paul dealt with the recording of the bass part for "Something":

 

"Paul started playing a bass line that was a little elaborate, and George told him, 'No, I want it simple.' Paul complied. There wasn't any disagreement about it, but I did think that such a thing would never happened in years past. George telling Paul how to play the bass? Unthinkable! But this was George's baby, and everybody knew it was an instant classic."

 

-Geoff Emerick to Music Radar

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The bass line is a little florid in Something, but it's also doing much of the heavy lifting. The guitar part is pretty spare and dialed back throughout most of the song.

 

Here's the isolated guitar part and in the bass line's absence you can tell how important it is.

[video:youtube]

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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