10 Best Beatles Bass Lines?

What do you think?



14 Comments

  1. I would replace “Standing There” with “Love Me Do”; “Something” with “Old Brown Shoe”; and “Mr. Kite” with “Getting Better.” All the others I accept — with an honorary 11th spot for “A Day in the Life.”

  2. Avatar king kevin wrote:

    Agreed- The bass line in “Getting Better” is seriously amazing and deserves to be in there.

  3. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    I would bump “Helter Skelter” for “Paperback Writer.”
    –Ingrid

  4. Awesome post, Ed.

    Friend Jerry suggests “Penny Lane” over on FB, but I am shocked and appalled that “Baby You’re a Rich Man” did not appear anywhere on this list! Or “Think for Yourself”! That fuzz base is great–and two basslines, even!

    Rich Man: http://youtu.be/QS1HGjIPQ1I
    Think: http://youtu.be/Q6336By0lOI

  5. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    All of Sgt. Pepper is a tutorial on brilliant bass lines.

    — Drew.

  6. Agreed, Drew!

    I remember reading once that Paul was greatly interested in Motown’s great bassist, James Jamerson.

  7. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    I always find myself humming along with the melodic basslines.

    Old Brown Shoe

    Don’t Let Me Down

    Ballad of John & Yoko

    One thing about the Beatles, they never made a fuss about their musicianship or their guitars and gear in interviews. Other less creative bands would spend entire interviews obsessively detailing the equipment they used, the brands of string, etc. The obsession with the tools being a compensation for the lack of vision of what to do with the tools.

    I don’t recall any Beatle interviews where they discussed gear or technique at any length.

    -Hologram Sam

  8. Avatar Alexander wrote:

    I would have included “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Not that it’s particularly brilliant or complex. But while the singer and most of the instruments wail with release and abandon, the bass line is a slow but purposefully stern stepmother eerily taking a two-step up the stairs, threatening to bust the door open and stop the weeping party any minute.

  9. Avatar Jerry N-K wrote:

    Lies! the friend suggested Dear Prudence on Facebook, not Penny Lane. [Which should not be counted in the best 10 Beatles anything?]

  10. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    I always liked the bass line on This Boy ….very subtle, understated, perfect for the song. (By the way, it would have been practically the theme song of any other band, while the Beatles wrote it, recorded it, then never looked back)

    I like the fact that the bass is the lead instrument on many songs, like Come Together etc., providing a nice fat bottom and counterpoint melody.

    I’ve always liked the bass on What You’re Doing, although it’s buried deep in the mix. Cute little one-note solo at the end of the song.

    Nice chunky, percussive bass on Baby You’re A Rich Man. I always hum along with the bass line on this one. Whoops, I see that Michael already mentioned this one.

    One thing I always felt was missing from George’s solo work was Paul’s bass. But somehow I don’t think George missed it.

    – Hologram Sam

  11. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Without over-analyzing it, the first two songs I think of with regard to best bass lines are Hey Bulldog and Old Brown Shoe.

  12. Avatar Nancy Carr wrote:

    “Dear Prudence” and “Paperback Writer” belong on this list; I’d be willing to sacrifice “Something” and “Penny Lane” for them.

    “Dear Prudence,” in particular, deserves a spot of high honor in the history of bass playing.

    I recommend Tony Bacon and Gareth Morgan’s book “Paul McCartney: Playing the Great Beatles Basslines” to anyone interested in this subject. They include transcriptions and analyses of nine songs they consider great (they present them in chronological order): “Drive My Car,” “In My Life,” “The Word,” “You Won’t See Me,” “Rain,” “Taxman,” “I’m Only Sleeping,” “Lovely Rita,” and “Dear Prudence.”

  13. Avatar king kevin wrote:

    Lets not forget Nowhere Man. I’ve always loved how the bass bubbles along and keeps the song moving. I keep thinking of more bass lines I love. How about Michelle?

  14. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Agree with many, but not all, of the bass lines posted. Some of my other favs were noted in the comments. FWIW, here would be my list, if I had one. In alphabetical order:

    — Come Together
    — Dear Prudence
    — Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)
    — Hey Bulldog
    — If I Needed Someone
    — Nowhere Man
    — Rain
    — Something
    — Taxman
    — Tell Me Why

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