‘Not ostentatious, but very important': Rush’s Geddy Lee on an underrated part of Paul McCartney’s legend

Rush’s Geddy Lee has often mentioned Paul McCartney as an influence in his style of up front, song-defining bass playing. Here, he goes in depth on what makes the former Beatles star’s playing so underrated.

“Great bass player, I think,” Lee says, in the attached Deep Tracks video. “A very underrated bass player. He’s really melodic, and really knows how to write a bass part that carries a song. Very much, I think, influenced by Motown in his approach. I could be wrong about that, but that’s my feeling — that it’s inspired by Motown, and he’s taken it to his own creative place.”

Often overlooked in favor of his lyrical content, or his performances on other instruments, McCartney’s bass lines were key elements in songs from across a wide spectrum of hit songs — from the Beatles charttopper “Something,” composed by George Harrison, to the 1970s-era Wings hit “Silly Love Songs.”

The thing that stands apart, Lee has said, is that McCartney added melodic lines where others had played a steady, cyclical cadence that simply held down the bottom end.

“Not ostentatious,” Lee adds, “but very important. His bass parts are integral parts of all of those songs.”

Lee, after a lengthy wait, finally joined McCartney in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of its newest induction class. Rush’s latest album is Clockwork Angels.

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