All About The Bass: 12 Greatest Paul McCartney Bass Lines Ever

Paul McCartney is one of music’s most singular creative forces. He’s a multi-instrumentalist and the consummate live performer.

You already know that Sir Paul is one of the greatest songwriters of all-time, but you may not realize that he also helped write the book on rock-and-roll bass guitar.

Of course praise isn’t something McCartney has lacked during his career. But the fact is even if he never wrote a song for the Beatles, McCartney would still be deified for his catchy, lyrical bass guitar playing.

McCartney’s music for most of his career has been dense with instrumentation, whether it's his recordings with the Beatles, his work with Wings or his solo albums. 

Everyone’s ear is naturally drawn to a different part of an audio mix, be it vocals, guitars, drums, piano, horns, bass or whatever else. But we implore you to closely listen to how creative and unique McCartney’s bass playing is on some choice tracks from his career.

You might realize that you've been humming McCartney's bass line all these years!

12. "Hello, Goodbye"

This is a great example of McCartney's bass existing deep within the complex sonic tapestry of a Beatles hit song. There's a lot of instrumentation in "Hello, Goodbye," especially from the bass side of the musical staff. 

Besides McCartney's bass, there are bongos, congas, piano, Hammond organ and Ringo Starr's drums. In theory, that doesn't leave a lot of room for bass guitar, but McCartney puts together a masterful bass line that ratchets up in intensity during the verses and then simplifies in the choruses, making way for all the other goodies the Beatles crammed into this No. 1 hit.

11. "Silly Love Songs"

McCartney surely had some fun writing and playing this one. The bass in "Silly Love Songs" is as much a lead part in the song as the hook the horn section plays in the choruses.

10. "Michelle"

"Michelle" features one of McCartney's more understated bass parts, but it's as musical as anything he ever wrote from the low end. Listen to how it bobs around, complimenting his vocals.

9. "Listen To What The Man Said"

This song highlights McCartney's unique rhythmic feel. The drum groove comes in straight eighth notes for most of the song, but the accents in the bass line are syncopated in the space between hi-hat clinks, giving the song its distinctive yet subtle dance feel.

8. "Oh! Darling"

Refer to your record collection on this one since YouTube has taken down most of the authentic Beatles studio recordings.

While "Oh! Darling" is best known as a vocal showcase for McCartney, upon closer listen it's really a duet between McCartney's voice and his bass. McCartney plucks along in accompaniment during the choruses and fills the verses with intriguing runs.

7. "Something"

McCartney's performance on one of George Harrison's biggest Beatles hits, "Something," is a great example of how he could take over a song without writing it himself.

Being that it's a Harrison-penned tune, most people listen closely for Harrison's lead guitar, but when you turn your attention to the bass, you'll realize that's the entire song. Everything that makes "Something" move, everything that emotes while Harrison catches his breath is McCartney's bass.

6. "Rain"

"Rain" is allegedly Ringo Starr's favorite Beatles song to play, and you could bet much of that has to do with the interplay between the bass and drums.

5. "I Saw Her Standing There"

McCartney was already a killer bassist by the time the band broke through in America. His line from "I Saw Her Standing There" positively cooks with rock 'n' roll walking bass excitement!

4. "Taxman"

"Taxman" is another example of McCartney and Harrison working together brilliantly. McCartney steers this Revolver classic from the bass end, handling its main riff on his four-string to allow Harrison's vocals to take the lead. 

Imagine if both guitars played that bass riff in unison? You'd have a much heavier Beatles song with far less room for Harrison's vocals.

3. "Paperback Writer"

The first guitar riff in "Paperback Writer" is so memorable on its own that it really belies the song's bass line. Listen to how the song lurches forward when McCartney's bass gets dropped into the mix.

2. "Goodnight Tonight"

John Lennon once said he didn't much care for Wings' 1979 hit "Goognight Tonight," except for McCartney's bass line.

"Goodnight Tonight" encompasses one of McCartney's greatest musical virtues: his versatility. "Goodnight Tonight" is a pop song, that straddles the line between R&B, samba and rock, and McCartney brilliantly walks that line with his bass.

1. "Come Together"

This is probably the best known bass line in Beatles history, and for good reason.

Original article by Andrew Magnotta at iHeartRadio