“Back in my day, nobody chose to be the bass player,” begins a famous quote from arguably the most famous bassist in the world, Geddy Lee. As one part of the unstoppable triumvirate known as Rush, Lee has since provided himself as an influential figure for all those willing and wanting to learn bass guitar.
Across a myriad of songs and albums, Lee has proven to the world that not only is bass a vital component of a band, but it also has the potential to satisfy any creative thirst too.
“‘Well, we need a bass player,’” continues Lee’s famous quote. “So they had a vote, and you became the bass player. That’s how I became a bass player: I was voted in. I think that was pretty common for the period because everybody wanted to be Jimi Hendrix; everybody wanted to be Eric Clapton; everybody wanted to be Jimmy Page.”
Soon enough, however, everyone would want to be Geddy Lee. Through his incredible style, Lee carved himself out a niche as one of the most melodic bass players around, and it’s something that truly stands out on this isolated bass track for Rush song ‘The Spirit of the Radio’.
The song, taken from the 1980 album Permanent Waves, the song was created out of not only radio station CFNY’s motto at the time: “the spirit of radio”, but a deliberate attempt to match up to the stations, frequencies and modulations of the time. It’s just one more interesting story behind Rush’s greatest hits.
Legendary drummer and the band’s principal songwriter, Neil Peart, said of the track to CBC, “I remember coming home very late, and CFNY Radio was on the air, and as I was cresting the escarpment with all of the lights below of Hamilton and the Niagara Peninsula, where I lived at the time, with a fantastic combination of music that was on at the time,” he confirms.
He goes on, “The song itself, musically, is switching between radio stations, with a reggae section at the end, the second verse is new waves, I’m playing like a punk drummer there, and that was all intentional.” It’s a difficult thing to do with the drums and even more difficult to make it distinguishable when handling the bass. Yet, as one can tell from the clip below, Lee handles it all in his stride.
The isolated track below is actually taken from a live performance of the song, which speaks even more highly of Lee’s talent as a musician. He may not have wanted to become a bass player at the start of his musical career, but he certainly got to grips with it pretty quickly.
Below, listen to Geddy Lee’s astonishing isolated bass for Rush song ‘The Spirit of the Radio’.