Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Paul McCartney--and Brian Wilson Right Behind

Two of my favorite rock artists--and bass players--commemorate the big 7-Oh this week. Paul McCartney, today, June 18. Brian Wilson's is Wednesday, the 20th. What would the '60s have been without them? We'd be in big treble (that's a joke).

Paul was the first rock artist that I paid attention to that played the bass. Yeah, the Stones had a bass player and the Kinks and, well, even the Kingston Trio had David "Buck" Wheat standing with his upright in the shadows as a fourth member. But Paul is the one who made the most of an impression. He is also wonderfully original in his melodic bass lines, which became even more interesting and complex as the Beatles' compositions developed during the 1960s.

I just heard Good Vibrations tonight on the radio and once again realized how much Brian's bass part moved the song along with its throbbing pulse. We think of Brian as the ultimate harmony vocal composer, but the bass part has to accompany and support a song, and he knows how to do it.

What does it mean when your heros are becoming old guys? One scary thought is in realizing how close behind them I am. They were young men when I was a teenager.

Over the years, both men have experienced phenomenal success but great losses as well--Brian his two brothers, Dennis and Carl, and Paul his two musical partners, John and George. But this year, both men are performing special concerts--Paul's for Her Majesty and Brian on tour -- at long last -- with the remaining Beach Boys. I hope they can keep going for quite a while--because I plan, with their inspiration, to keep on going too.

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