Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend reading

"Paul McCartney: Busting a few myths," by Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune.

Myth No. 2: Paul's just the bass player

Sure, and Mozart was just a hack piano player from Salzburg. The bass may be an unsung instrument, but it’s the bedrock of rock ‘n’ roll and soul. What’s more, McCartney reinvented its role in the Beatles, not just laying down a foundation for the song but often playing a strong counterpoint to the lead vocal. One of the reasons the Beatles’ songs sound so rich is the depth of composition, the melodic and harmonic layers – and McCartney’s ability to straddle rhythm and melody on bass was critical.

His flair was already apparent on the band’s earliest hits; on “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1964), the bass is on equal footing with the guitars, and it’s like a song in itself on “Michelle” (1965). By the time of “Paperback Writer” (1966), McCartney is the lead instrumentalist, ushering in each verse like Britain’s answer to Motown’s James Jamerson. He’s nearly in subterranean funk territory with the deep tones of “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” (1967) and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (1968), and stomps likeGodzilla through “Rain” (1966) and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” (1968).

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