Writing On The Bass


Usually, when we think songwriter, the image that comes to mind is one of an artist alone at the piano or playing an acoustic guitar. Yet interestingly, many bass players are the main songwriters for their band.

The best examples include:

  • Paul McCartney (Beatles)
  • Sting (The Police)
  • Nikki Sixx (Mothley Crue)
  • Tobin Esperance (Papa Roach)
  • Marcus Miller (Miles Davis)
  • Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)
  • Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy)
  • Geddy Lee (Rush)
  • Chris Squire (Yes)
  • Mark King (Level 42)
  • Trevor Horns (The Buggles, Seal, Art Of Noise, Franky Goes To Hollywood)

I think bassist have an advantage since they are the “glue” that keeps a song from falling apart. The role of a bassist is to support the chords played by the keyboard and guitar players, while following the drummer’s rhythms. As such they have a unique viewpoint of a song’s landscape. They have to keep the house standing while everyone else goes wild.

Switching instrument is a well-known way to explore new songwriting possibilities. Next time, try the bass and see what happens.

PS — Thanks to Sean for reminding me of Geddy Lee, Chris Squire and Mark King.