Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I've played one instrument in my life and that was the trumpet from age 8 to age 16. I briefly took trumpet and bass lessons, but because of various duties I had to tend to as an adult, they never really got off the ground and I damn sure didn't achieve any level of proficiency. My main man jazzbrew used to be a proficient trumpet player and more recently he has switched over to the bass and he's moving closer to proficiency in that as well. I admire that and one day soon while my son Nyles is taking piano lessons, I will attempt that feat as well.

But this morning while I was in the shower, I was listening to Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al", and the nasty bass solo came on, and it reminded me of why I even wanted to learn the bass in the first damn place. I can think of several songs with unmistakable bass solos or basslines that I would attempt to recreate simply with the air guitar, and I would wonder what it would take to learn the instrument. I shall list some of them now--the aforementioned "You Can Call Me Al" is on the list by the way.

Robert Palmer - I Didn't Mean To Turn You On

The bassline of the song is average and nothing spectacular or noteworthy. And then at the 2:23 mark, there a nasty bass guitar pluck and makes you want screw your face up while you play it. That nasty pluck reappears at the tail end of the song as well. I was 10 or 11 when this song came out, but I'll never forget that.

Steely Dan - Peg

The only reason I knew about this song was due to the De La Soul Song, "Eye Know" which was on 3 Feet High and Rising which used the Steely Dan. I later looked up the song on my own and initially it was Michael McDonald's background vocals which reeled me in. Then later as my ear got more sophisticated, I zeroed in on the nasty bass line and now I can never unhear that part. A few years ago, there was a documentary on Steely Dan, and the bass guitarist mentioned that Steely Dan did not want him to pluck the guitar during the chorus, and he snuck it in anyway (skip ahead to the 1:15 mark of the video below):

Chaka Khan/Rufus - Tell Me Something Good

Come on, do I really have to explain this one? Just listen how the song starts, and tell me it doesn't make you want to do something x-rated..

Stanley Jordan - The Lady in my Life

Yes I am well aware this song is smooth jazz, and I generally am condescending towards the entire smooth jazz institution. However, when I was a nine year old lad going to and from soccer practice, my dad (who was a huge jazz head) fell in love with bassist Stanley Jordan and his inaugural album, "Magic Touch". One of the standout songs from that album was a remake of MJ's "Lady in my Life", and the bass parts were damn good

On Green Dolphin Street - Jimmy McGriff

This is yet another song that I discovered thanks to a hip hop group. A Tribe Called Quest sampled this in their song "Jazz (We've Got)", and thanks to the extensive liner notes in the tape cover, I was able to discover that and other basslines.

Get on the Floor - Michael Jackson

The lyrics were written by Michael Jackson, but the beat was done by legendary bassist, the late Mr. Louis Johnson (half of The Brothers Johnson). The bass is so nasty in this song, I don't even think the air guitar can do it proper justice. It is intricate, it is funky and to me it is flat out amazing. Louis Johnson briefly discussed it in this interview:

Bass Solo: Louis Johnson - "Get On The Floor" by Fanuchi

Here's the real song

I'm sure there are more, but that's a start...

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