Downbeats and Other Expectations

kbsitepicinstrument005It was nice to get together with a fellow musician the other day.  We weren’t rehearsing, we weren’t figuring out a project, we weren’t working on anything in particular.  We were just having a visit, and we got to talking about playing.  Was particularly good because we were two bass players talking.  Well, okay, I had my guitar with me as well, but that was just for when we got bored, or if one of us wanted to try something we’d been talking about groovewise while the guitar kept the pace.  I was reminded of how much personal interaction was part of where I started with music.  It was also nice just to sit and share thoughts with a fellow bassist.  I’m an unusual player on the bass, for many reasons, I’ve been told it remind some folks of Snoopy.  But with all my quirks there’s still a lot of the function of bass that I have to serve up when I’m playing.  And it’s always good for me to hear that other players are rassling with some of the same things as me.  Even after all these years sometimes I’m still convinced that I’m totally out to lunch basswise.  That’s why it was good for me to hear that more than one really good, even famous, bass part was done with one finger of the right hand.  I’m just not built like a bass player, so I’ve had to make up a lot of it as I went along.  When I stand back and listen to it from the outside it feels okay.  But from the inside it’s not quite the same.  That’s where I start to have to trust what other players say about my playing–the good stuff anyway–more than what I may be feeling about my playing in that moment. And too I can trust when people are grooving to what I’m laying down, whether they’re listeners, dancers, or fellow musicians.  If it’s working I know.  Fair enough.

Still, it’s nice to share experiences with a fellow bass player, to talk about drummers who know that it’s about the lock between the bass and drums and those who don’t, to talk about following someone you’ve never played with and having to show up on the down beat where the bass is expected to be while everyone else gets to wait that little bit longer so they can hear what the chord really is.

There are things that only bass players experience in that special way.

And sometimes it’s nice to feel like you’re not the only one.