Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass, a recent book by the Rush frontman, is a history of the instrument that includes photos from his own collection. Lee will be promoting it with a book tour later this month that includes stops in Pittsburgh (December 8th), New York City (December 9th), and Halifax, Nova Scotia (December 14th). He spoke to us about his five favorite songs with distinctive bass parts.
The Who, “My Generation”
Seriously? A Pop song with bass solos? John “The Ox” Entwistle was arguably the greatest rock bassist of them all, daring to take the role and sound of the bass guitar and push it out of the murky depths while strutting those amazing chops with his own kind of “Twang!” The Ox’s playing was bold and incredibly dexterous. That right hand … Seriously?
Cream, “Crossroads” (Live)
This is a classic and hugely influential rock/blues jam. Having seen Jack Bruce roam wildly up and down the neck of his Gibson EB3 in concert, I can testify that it not only made me want to play bass but play bass in a rock trio. And the other two guys in Cream weren’t so bad either.
Led Zeppelin, “What Is and What Should Never Be”
There are so many songs I could choose from Zep that feature profound but understated bass playing, but this one is my fave. The way John Paul Jones changes gear, holds down the heavy bottom and adds terrific melody throughout the song. He is such a fluid player and all-round musical talent.
Another hit song driven by an outrageously complex and rockin’ bass line. I could have chosen any one of a dozen Yes songs that shows off the melodic and rhythmic genius that was Chris Squire. It was a pure privilege to play this song with Yes in 2017 at their (long overdue) induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Weather Report, “Teen Town”
Sadly, many of the bass heroes on this very short list are no longer with us. But no matter how short the list, Jaco Pastorius’ name would have to be on it. Written by Jaco during his time with Weather Report for the iconic Heavy Weather album, “Teen Town” has everything that Jaco’s genius stood for: profound complexity, incredible melodic structure, and terrific groove. Watching him perform this live was truly an inspiring experience and one I shall never forget.