When you’re a Jack of all trades, sometimes people can forget that you’re the master of a few too. Paul McCartney, while lauded as a genius with The Beatles, is often forgotten as a bassist.
Below we’re looking at the isolated bass track for The Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’ one of the more rollicking moments of the band’s 1968 White Album, and reflecting on Paul McCartney’s genius.
Paul McCartney is heralded as one of the pillars of pop music. The singer and bassist is a mutli-faceted musician that, during his time recording with The Beatles, Wings and beyond, took on a multi-instrumental role. But the instrument people will always associate with Macca is his bass.
McCartney’s landmark guitar, bought when Paul was only 18, had humble origins: “Eventually, I found a little shop in the centre of town, and I saw this violin-shaped bass guitar in the window,” he told Tony Bacon for a Bass Player cover story back in the summer of 1995.
The original guitar McCartney bought was Höfner 500/1 violin bass, a right-handed model that he turned upside down, for the equivalent of around £40. While the guitar was stolen during the late sixties he did have a spare which was given to him by Höfner in 1963, was seen and heard starting as early as that year’s ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’.
Macca played the guitar from then all the way until the final ‘Let It Be’ rooftop concert in 1969. Some say Paul still has the setlist from the last Beatles gig, from 1966, taped to its side. While we can’t be sure on that fact, we can be sure that what he did with that guitar, and any other guitar he’s picked up, created moments of pure, blissful musicianship.
On ‘Dear Prudence’ Paul McCartney enacts yet more blissful moments as he delivers a powerful bassline that underpins the predominantly Lennon-penned song. McCartney starts the track with a singular, and determinedly plucked note before moving into the song’s iconic bop. The bassline inhibits both the track’s trance-like nature and the captivating melodies.
The track’s playful appeal may feel like it comes from Lennon’s refrain but, in fact, it largely lands on the bassline of Paul McCartney to take it to it’s known heights. Listen below to Paul McCartney’s isolated bass track and marvel at his underrated genius.