Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings)

The Guv’nor!

Everything that’s been written about Sir Paul has been written, everything that’s been said, has been said…so allow me to say something new…

Of James Paul McCartney’s marvelous feats as a bassist, the two which never fail to impress me are his passages for “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” and “Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds” – especially in the chorus of the latter.

“Do You Want to Know a Secret?”

The parts are technically simple – I could teach them to an able beginner in a few lessons. However Paul’s bass playing on those songs characterizes this extraordinary man and his music. In every phase of his storied career, Macca’s bass magic springs from his exquisite voice leading.

“Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds”

His note choices defy custom and thus weave conventional chord changes together into a grand, multi-colored musical tapestry. And Paul renders it all by way of his splendid rhythmic intuition – played purely from the heart. I don’t know dance nor ballet from bullocks, but to my ears, the totality of Sir Paul’s bass artistry moves akin to Nureyev, Alvin Ailey, Fred & Ginger, and Gene Kelly.

My advice to pop music bassists, when you’re asked to contribute bass to a new composition, the first question you ask yourself is “what would Paul McCartney do here?”