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What makes a great McCartney bass line
10 December 2011
10.42am
JaiGuruDevaOm
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I recently found out that George also played Bass on 'Old Brown Shoe'. Some of my favourite Bass lines are on 'Dear Prudence' and 'The Word'

See All Without Looking, Do All Without Doing 
10 December 2011
2.38pm
Into the Sky with Diamonds
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Is "playing the bass" equal to "coming up with the bass line"?

(George also plays bass on "Two of Us")

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
10 December 2011
10.44pm
meanmistermustard
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Possibly Paul was playing the piano and the bass was recorded at the same time. George played the bass guitar on Carry That Weight (something he had forgotten 25 years later) when Paul was on the piano so maybe that was the arrangement. But then Paul plays the piano and bass on You Never Give Me Your Money so who knows anything when it comes to who played what and why in the later days.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
17 December 2011
5.17am
mzp007
A Beginning
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A "GREAT" bass line is one that, after hearing a song a couple of times, a listner will think "wow, so THAT is the sound that is captivating my ears!" It might be a "busy" line, like "Something"or a crescendo-y line like "Dear Prudence," but your ear tunes in to that sound.

That's speaking really just about a bass line, rather than a bass rhythm. A line follows, provides or undercuts the melody. A good rhythmic bass is a "Paperback Writer" type beat.

 

 In my opinion, "Something" has a beautiful bass line. Sure, there could be less, but it weaves and answers the melodic structure of the music and vocals.

18 December 2011
3.45am
Into the Sky with Diamonds
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Hi mzp 007; yup, McCartney's played great bass lines right from the get go. Hard to pick the best.

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
18 December 2011
4.05pm
The Beatles bassist
Norway
Abbey Road
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"I Saw Her Standing There" is one of the earliest song that got a great bass line, but the problem is, it's not original enough. Paul lifted the bass riffs from Chuck Berry's "I'm Talking About You" a single from 1961 (the year before "I Saw Her Standing There" was written). By the way it got one of my favorite lead and rhythm guitar parts (not to forget to mention my favorite guitar solo recorded by The Beatles).

Here I've listed some of the greatest Beatles bass lines seperated in two sections (the early years: 1962 – 1966 and the studio years: 1967 – 1970):

1962 – 1966:

- Nowhere Man

- You Can't Do That

- I Saw He Standing There

- Roll Over Beethoven

- You Won't See Me

- The Word

- She's a Woman

- Taxman

- Got To Get You Into My Life

- I'm Only Sleeping

- All My Loving

- Don't Bother Me

- I'm a Loser

- Drive My Car

- And Your Bird Can Sing

- Do You Want To Know A Secret

- Think For Yourself

- Michelle

- Day Tripper

- Paperback Writer

- Rain

—————————————————-

1967 – 1970

- Penny Lane

- With a Little Help from My Friends

- A Day In The Life

- Lovely Rita

- Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite

- Good Morning Good Morning

- Dear Prudence

- Magical Mystery Tour

- Don't Let Me Down

- Old Brown Shoe

- The Ballad Of John And Yoko

- You Never Give Me Your Money

- Sun King/Mean Mr. Mustard

- Polythene Pam/She Came In Through The Bathroom Window

- Golden Slumbers

- Carry That Weight

- Here Comes The Sun

- Oh! Darling

- Come Together

- Something

- Baby You're a Rich Man

- All You Need Is Love

- Hey Bulldog

- Revolution

- Helter Skelter

- Back in the U.S.S.R.

- While My Guitar Gently Weeps

- Glass Onion

- Octopus's Garden

- Sexy Sadie

- I Am The Walrus

- Your Mother Should Know

- Hello, Goodbye

- Lady Madonna

- Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

- Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da

- Birthday

- Savoy Truffle

- Happiness Is A Warm Gun

- I Me Mine

- Maxwell's Silver Hammer

- Two of Us (* this is George playing a rare guitar line functional as a bass line)

- Dig A Pony

- I Want You (She's So Heavy)

"Real music is made by real people playing real instruments using own creativity and skills."
25 March 2012
10.43pm
The Beatle-lele Book
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mithveaen said
You forgot Helker Skelter. a-hard-days-night-john-6

Didnt John play bass on Helter Skelter??

27 March 2012
2.33am
...ontherun
Massachusetts
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I think the key to a great McCartney bass line is McCartney. Without that it's not really a very good McCartney bass line. a-hard-days-night-paul-11

A square is not a square when the sides are less than four...
3 April 2012
11.02am
Ben Ramon
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Technically, I'd nominate I Want You (She's So Heavy), which really showcases McCartney's dexterity with a pick; the picking on the long chromatic slide down the neck near the end of the song is something that is difficult to pull off without sounding sloppy but Paul's is professional and perfectly timed. I also think Taxman is technically impressive; at first I thought it was pretty simple but then I listened more closely and realized that he's doubling and syncopating notes all over the place. 

But to answer the original question "what makes a great McCartney bassline", I'd have to say a sense of melody- which, let's face it, has always been Paul's strong point in whatever he does. And with that in mind I'd say his best is Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds; that bassline is like a song in itself, starting out following the chords with relative simplicity and then becoming gradually more complex. It's like a Bach bassline. :)

SHUT UP - Paulie's talkin'
7 April 2012
10.52pm
Into the Sky with Diamonds
New York
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Ben Ramon said, "I'd say his best is Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds; that bassline is like a song in itself, starting out following the chords with relative simplicity and then becoming gradually more complex."

 

That's a remarkable coincidence that you would say that.

In Into the Sky with Diamonds, I focus particularly on that recording session.

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
29 May 2012
7.45am
Old Siam Sir
The Jacaranda
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Come Together – I Want You (She's So Heavy) – Taxman – Rain – Hey Bulldog – Everybody's Got Something to Hide… – Oh! DarlingSomethingLovely RitaGetting BetterPenny LaneShe Came In Through The Bathroom WindowDon't Let Me Down - the list goes on and on and on…
Macca simply recreated the role of the bass in rock music over the course of the Fab's run and his solo work. I think his playing really took off and grew that signature "melodic" sound after they stopped touring and he started leaving the basslines for overdubs rather than basic rythym tracks. And that perfect tone…great engineers and a sweet rickenbacker!!!!a-hard-days-night-paul-5

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-All Good Children go to Heaven
17 May 2013
10.29am
frankdialogue
http://www.weebly.com/kultureamerika
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All of McCartney's bass lines are good, some great, perhaps because he was a lefty, like Hendrix, and just thought a bit differently.

But, today I was in my neighborhood bar/pub, which has an excellent juke box through a top notch sound system…I believe they have heavy duty Bose speakers in there…The bass, especially, comes out strong and beautifully.

Someone played 'I Saw Her Standing There': This was the first time I heard McCartney's bass line in all it's glory, and I first saw the Beatles perform it on Ed Sullivan's show back in 1964.

The bass line is incredible, and now, with the advances in mastering and enhancement technology, I really heard it for the first time…The Beatles live mixes were always extremely primitive: If people could have actually HEARD what Paul was playing on the bass on those songs back then, the world would have been stunned even more…His choice of notes, perfect rhythm (while he did the lead vocal) and performance were fantastic…I was amazed to really heard it as it was meant to be heard…When these records were originally released, the bass was always lost in the final mix, an afterthought.

Last week, someone in there played 'Get Off of My Cloud' by the Stones, and it was the same thing: you could hear Wyman's bass in all it's glory and feel the power of the rhythm section.

See, computer speaker suck for the most part, and even though the sound is digitally remastered, you need a really excellent system with woofers and tweeters to listen to music today.

Any serious music lover had a good hi-fi or stereo in 'the old days', but most have dead ears now from listening through computer systems.

17 May 2013
2.41pm
DrBeatle
Boston
Apple rooftop
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^I'm with you, they're all good. Especially after having just gone through his solo/Wings/solo catalog in chronological order the past week as well. I think the reason he's so good, along with many other favorite bass players of mine (John Entwistle, John Paul Jones, Jack Bruce, Andy Rourke, Noel Redding, Bill Wyman, Geddy Lee, Alex James, Dave Meros, etc) is that they don't just push the root; they're basslines are counterpoint melodies that enhance the song *and* drive it along.

"I know you, you know me; one thing I can tell you is you got to be free!"

 

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17 May 2013
7.01pm
Funny Paper
America
Apple rooftop
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DrBeatle said I think the reason he's so good, along with many other favorite bass players of mine (John Entwistle, John Paul Jones, Jack Bruce, Andy Rourke, Noel Redding, Bill Wyman, Geddy Lee, Alex James, Dave Meros, etc) is that they don't just push the root; they're basslines are counterpoint melodies that enhance the song *and* drive it along.

Actually, Paul does that a lot less than many other bassists.  There are bassists out there who get a little carried away with exploring all around the bass line and it can become distracting to the song, almost like they're showing off instead of doing their job.  Paul in an interview back in the late 1980s with a bass guitar magazine (I can't seem to find it now) stressed that he likes to play conservatively and stick to the tonic notes -- but of course we all know that he did in fact improvise on top of that, with excellent flair.  However, the point is, he cultivated a solid foundation from which to explore.  As he said, cleverly, in that interview, to paraphrase from memory:  "The thing about the bass, is that you've got to have some ass down there!"

Mundo paparazzi mi amore cicce verdi parasol.
18 May 2013
2.29am
SatanHimself
Hades-on-Leith
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It's nice to see one of the "deeper" threads get bumped.

Not to court controversy here, but in another thread we spoke of how certain medicinal plants cause the listener to focus primarily on the rhythm parts, especially the super-intricate bass lines.  

Paul's bass lines were tighter than most jazz players, and (in my own opinion) and the "Magic Bullet" to explain the greatness of the Beatles.  Listen to "You Never Give Me Your Money" or "Dear Prudence" and you'll see how Paul was doing things with bass lines that musicians are still trying to capture, 50 years later.

 

Oh.  My.  God.  It's been 50 years.  That's just sinking in.  50 years.  Half a century. 

E is for 'Ergent'.
18 May 2013
2.21pm
fabfouremily
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I don't know if there's something wrong with my hearing but I struggle to hear the bass clearly in a lot of Beatles songs. Well, I don't struggle but it's like I really have to strain myself to hear him playing. And yet with Led Zeppelin, I don't struggle so much. Does that mean that JP Jones didn't really do his job properly 'cause bass players aren't supposed to be so audible?

''We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.''

18 May 2013
2.49pm
SatanHimself
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It may have something more to do with how you listen to your music.

If you listen to music on a computer or as lower-bitrate mp3s on an ipod, you're robbing yourself of the music's proper fidelity.  One of the first things to get washed away in the digital sound-scrubbing are the finer details like the bass parts.

If you have a home theatre, I'd suggest using, but that's also assuming you own the actual 2009 remastered CDs or the vinyl.

E is for 'Ergent'.
18 May 2013
2.57pm
fabfouremily
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I try and listen to vinyl as much as possible because I think everything tends to be sharper and clearer. An iPod is good though for when I'm out and about.

By 'home theatre', do you mean proper speakers? I have my mono record player with it's in built speaker which I use most of all, and my parents have another one with two big speakers at the side of it, which I think they payed quite a large sum of money for back in the early 90s. Should I use theirs more often then?

''We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.''

18 May 2013
7.57pm
SatanHimself
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Oh definitely.  Your mono record player (while endearing), won't do your music any favours.  

If you use your parents' stereo, pay attention to the equalizer (if it has one).  Tweak the levels to your liking, but make sure to bring up the low-end to bring out Paul's bass.

It never hurts to go to Youtube and look for isolated bass tracks or people doing bass covers.  Once you're familiar with the bass lines, you'll hear them more readily in your everyday listening.

Here's "Dear Prudence"

E is for 'Ergent'.
18 May 2013
8.00pm
SatanHimself
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And here's the criminally-underrated "Lovely Rita".  This bass cover shows just how intricate his bass lines could be.

E is for 'Ergent'.
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