Dec 132012

I can’t remember the details—and maybe I’ve got the details completely wrong— but isn’t there a story about George thinking Paul’s bass part on “Something” was stepping all over his song? Can anyone remember the details, at least as reported?

This got me thinking: Is there a solo George song that features a cool bass part? Surely there’s an obvious answer I’m missing or not hearing beneath Phil Spector’s crumbling Wall of Sound. Was George a bassphobe? Was he one of those guys, a guitar chauvinist pig, who thought the bass should stay in its place? I’m not blaming the bassists he used. Klaus Voorman, for instance, whose wife wouldn’t let him do an interview with us when we tracked him down a few years ago, did some spirited, memorable, if rudimentary work on John Lennon records.


  15 Responses to “What’s the Coolest Bassline in a Solo George Harrison Song (or Rock Town Hall’s Shortest Thread Ever)?”

  1. Not strictly a George solo song – but, a George composition and production that’s 75% Beatles. Stunning work from Macca and Bongo

  2. I love that song, but as you note, it’s not George running the show.

  3. alexmagic

    I am unable to confirm at the moment, but it is my recollection that “The Art of Dying” off All Things Must Pass must have a cool bassline.

    Mod, you hint at it, but are you suggesting the possibility that George either consciously or subconsciously minimized the bass in his solo output in retaliation to Paul’s Boss of the Beatles routine during Let It Be? I would attribute it to the production and the fact that he had the entirety of Badfinger playing guitar behind him, but it may still be a theory worth exploring.

  4. The bass part in “The Art of Dying” is more active and forceful than I usually associate with the bass parts in solo George songs, but it’s still not a “memorable” part. No one cites that as an inspirational bassline, do they?

    Yes, I think George was working through some Paul issues throughout his solo career, and I do fear that he was a guitar chauvinist pig, one of those guys who felt the bass should be felt and not heard.

    I first brought up this topic with chickenfrank while he was laying down a pretty ballsy bassline the other night. He asked whether George had even played bass on a song. He’s playing a guitar on this live performance of “Hey Jude,” although to be honest I can’t recall how live it actually was.

    If not, however, that begs the question: What guitarist of his magnitude (or way less) hasn’t at least once decided to lay down his own bass part in the middle of the night, when the band’s real bassist was stuck in traffic or whatever?

  5. misterioso

    The only thing live are the vocals.

  6. You are correct Modman. I also remember years ago reading an interview where George took a shot at Paul’s bass being too much and that he much preferred the players he worked with post fab. I’m sure some of his bass aversion was a reaction to his relationship with McCartney.

  7. misterioso

    I find the topic odd, but whatever. Seems to me the bass on “What Is Life”, say, or “Give Me Love” any number of other great solo George songs (a finite but not negligible category) is quite fine. Memorable? Inspirational? I guess not. But I tend to agree with Mod that George had probably had it up to here with spectacular bass playing.

  8. Late-’70s, permed-hair George had some disco-y basslines on songs like “Woman Don’t You Cry For Me” and “Blow Away.” Maybe that’s not “cool,” but not the work of a bassophobe either.

    “I’ll Have You Anytime” has a lovely, melodic bass part, but you probably need the 2002 remaster of All Things Must Pass, which has a lot less Wall of Sound, to hear it.

  9. Slim Jade

    I dunno, but he sure stepped all over Nirvana last night.

  10. trigmogigmo

    Is it just me, or is that bass track for “Something” horribly lo-fi? I don’t hear (or never noticed) any of that in the full mix.

  11. A little off topic. I always thought Voorman was rudimentary, mostly based on the Plastic Ono Band record which probably demanded such an approach, but give a listen to the bass in Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through the Night”. It’s not stylistically daring like McCartney, but it gets around and has a nice subtle rhythmic feel.

    I think Harrison might have been a lot more satisfied with Macca as a bass player if McCartney had been a little less critical of his guitar playing.

  12. bostonhistorian

    If someone told me that bass line was a Young Marble Giants leftover, I wouldn’t have doubted it.

  13. “Give me, uh, plenty of that guitar.” – GH


  14. pudman13

    Most reliable sources say that George played the bassline on “old Brown Shoe,” and that’s most certainly not a “background” bassline. Also, not to be an old fart, but Paul was right about “Something” and “Hey Jude” and pretty much every argument he had with George about arrangements.

  15. Yes, “Old Brown Shoe” is a rare example of George playing bass, but still not a solo George song with a cool bassline. The man did have it in him, and I agree with you re: his arrangement battles with Paul.

    Good to have you back in the Hall, pudman13.

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