The genius of Paul McCartney’s basslines
A recent Disc Makers Blog post highlights the criminally-overlooked contributions of Paul McCartney’s bass playing during his tenure with the Beatles.
Paul famously resisted playing bass at first, but took over after Stuart Sutcliffe left the band and Paul’s guitar broke.
Paul admitted that he grew to love the instrument and developed a unique style which turned it into a more melodic instrument. His bass lines are credited with revolutionizing the way the bass guitar was used in rock n’ roll.
The Disc Makers article does a great job of highlighting the evolution of Paul’s bass playing from the early years when its simplicity allowed focus on the vocals, through the end of the Beatles’ career, when it added a completely new and different layer to their songs. The article is complete with analysis and examples of bass lines in specific songs. Of George Harrison’s song “Something,” the article says:
As the Beatles matured and neared the end of their time together as a band, we see each member reach their creative peak, displaying fully what each instrumentalist was capable of bringing to a song. McCartney’s bass parts on Abbey Road are another chapter in his melodic bass textbook. On George Harrison’s classic love song, “Something,” McCartney spends very little time on the root of each chord, instead opting to explore the upper registers of the bass, creating an ideal countermelody to the verse vocal line. During the chorus, the bass returns to the low register to give the song the necessary weight and depth that only a full bottom end can bring.