November 21, 2015
I am a Bass Player.
It’s a funny fact about myself. Like my love of black jelly beans, or my inability to learn Norwegian 🙂
But to me it is quite fundamental.
I am a Bass Player.
‘Hello my name is Grant and I am a Bass Player.’
Except (though it is a sort of addiction), it’s not a problem, but a strength. Or at least an interesting fact for me to recognise.
I began my musical journey at 15 or 16 by learning Bob Dylan songs on a three quarter size guitar that my parents had given me when I was 6. Apparently my mum would lose me in the city and find me staring transfixed at the guitars in the window of the local music store. Unfortunately what my parents failed to recognise, or more likely they didn’t have the money to realise, was that I was staring at the beautiful hollow bodied electric guitars, with dreams of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. It took two years for my parents to get around to music lessons (procrastination must run in families cause it’s a vice I too suffer); but again my dreams of musical coolness did not really include riding in the winter on my push bike, to an old lady whose house smelt of stale urine, to learn ‘Oh my Darling Clementine’. I only lasted a full term because my mum insisted that it was already paid for.
Anyway, by the time I was 15 I couldn’t hold back the desire to play. So long evening hours in my bedroom with Bob Dylan songbooks ensued. And eventually I was a guitarist in a couple of bands with high school friends at 19 or so.
Life really began for me when I despaired of ever being able to play.
Looking back on it now I think this was my first severe depressive episode, though it wasn’t severe compared to what was to come (but that’s another story). Anyway, crippling self doubt and all that; I thought I was shit and I should just give up. But I decided to give it one last try; I had sometimes swapped instruments with the Bass Player in my first band and enjoyed it thoroughly, so I went into debt and got a bass and amp. In my mind this was it the final throw! If I can’t do this I’m giving up.
What a revelation!
After a false start or two I realised that this was what I was meant to be. The two instruments are superficially similar (after all the tuning is almost the same) but their roles are very different. The very fact of the register difference is crucial here. (A fact that was reinforced for me years later when I learned the mandolin). You are playing a very different instrument.
So… for eleven years or more I was almost exclusively a Bass Player. For a lot of that time I didn’t even own another instrument. I did flirt with my first Synth in there somewhere (but again that’s another story). I thought as a Bass Player, I breathed as a Bass Player, I dreamed as a Bass Player, I moved as a Bass Player…you get the idea.
Where was I going with this?
Oh yeah… bass lines have been creeping back into my music lately. I don’t even have a bass. I mean I own several but they are on the other side of the world. More and more I realise how much I miss my bass. A bass. Any bass.