Quintessential Radio Tunes for the Bass Player, part 1.

I was thinking about this on my way in this morning, and figured this could be an interesting exercise in musical thought processes.
Now, I will be the first to admit that my *current* radio exposure is extremely limited, most of it being political talk radio anymore. In the past, however, I was at least tracking trends. Usually I was also playing bass several times a week as well, which helped fuel this need/desire.
My rules that I'm laying out for this exercise are thus:
  • The tune must have gotten a reasonable amount of radio play at some point.
  • The tune must give some musical insight or exercise for the bass player.

That being said, there are many pop tunes that have both of these requirements. These requirements might evolve over the course of the experiment, but these are what I start with.
Now, my friend Shawn probably expects me to start out with one specific tune that we both know and love. That's not where I'm starting, but it will be included, but for now, I propose the following:
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: The Impression that I Get, from the album "Let's Face It".
This is really the tune that helped teach me how to have *fun* while playing. I was working with a ska group at the time in Oklahoma City, and the lead singer from the group said "I love what you're playing, but you're too serious about it. Lighten up, move around, smile, have fun.". I took that description to heart and to this day I have a hard time *not* moving to whatever I'm playing.
Now, there are many better ska groups to choose from. I am not, nor was ever, really very savvy to the style or scene though. I leave the discovery of these as an exercise to the reader.
The things that are really relevant to the bass player in this tune are really, really big, tho. Inherent in most ska music is the lack of coverage "down south" in the audible spectrum, this tune exemplifying this. A small brass/reed section, a guitar part that consists of mostly the bottom 3 string up-beats, the drummer and the bass player. So what you end up with is a huge amount of business up top with the wind instruments and guitarist, and the bass drum down underneath. This leaves a *huge* gap in the sonic soundscape that a bass player can play in, without fear of stomping on someone else's part. It *needs* to be filled as well, or the entire bottom just drops out of the music. While you can drive with offbeats (from the guitar), it's obvious that it's missing something without a foundation to build on.
The second idea presented here is the idea of a flowing motion in the line. With the amount of exposure that the bassist has in this tune, all of the lines *must* really flow well with the rest of the tune. You can't chop up the notes in this tune and have it work well. This can apply in most situations that the bassist is having to fill a lot of sonic canvas, or is carrying the tune via what they are playing.
Thoughts, opinions?


Shawn said...

huh... and all this time I was thinking about "at my most beautiful" by REM... FOOLED YOU!!!!

Check my blog out here.

Shawn said...

Another thought - Call Me Al - Paul Simon... all over pop radio in it's time, and so full of tasty bass goodness that it's remarkable I didn't think of it sooner!

CaptSlaq said...