Monday, March 26, 2007

FBO: 'Bass Bank: John Deacon'


You could have a sporting event without Queen's anthems -- 'We Will Rock You,' 'We Are the Champions' or 'We Want to Break Free' (with the prompter showing the band in drag) -- but it wouldn't be any fun. Either way, you couldn't have Queen without John Deacon, the bass player.

A man of mystery, John Deacon -- the last one most think of when they think of Queen, which is usually often -- wrote their biggest song, 'Another One Bites the Dust' built off a deceptively catchy but barebone-simple bass line. He's equally understated D-D-D-DDD-A line that anchors the remarkable song 'Under Pressure' (with David Bowie) is likely the music world's greatest bass riff.

Not gay (he has six kids and a wife), John deserves extra praise for the lyrics of 'Bites the Dust' -- which appears to be the gayest song ever recorded. It also features the best first word in a song lyric OF ALL TIME: 'Steve.'

'Steve walks warily down the street.'

Read and re-read that line. It is impossible to think of a way to describe motion that is more clunky and offers less aesthetically pleasing cadence than 'warily.' It's hard to say, much less sing.

For a guy most people don't notice, he created:

1) a supergroup's most successful single
2) the world's best bass riff
3) the world's best opening lyric
4) the most deliberately self-sabotaging lyric in terms of cadence and awkwardness

John originally played guitar then 'switched over.'

--> John Deacon, we just want to thank you.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

**From March 22 to April 5, FBO is celebrating the forgotten, overlooked, abused or under-utilized bass by noting a handful of bass players you should know about.**


Anonymous said...

Please, add my thanks to yours.

tom caw said...

"This is ourselves!"
I fully expected Mr. Deacon to make the list. I'd like to thank him for writing "You're My Best Friend," on which he also played electric piano.

Musicological Side Note: the famous "Under Pressure" bass line is in fact a descending fourth (from D to A), and not an "octave-based line" as FBO Admin indicated. Play along with a transcription here:

Failed Bands of Oklahoma said...

We'll make the edit. Well done Mr C.

Alan De-Mulletized said...

Very fine list so far. Some to consider for further praise.....
Getty Lee
Les Claypool
Leland Sklar
Billy Greer
Mitch Newlin

Tyrone said...

I thought the greatest opening line in rock-n-roll was, "With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound he pulls the spitting high tension wires down."

Kerda said...

Well said.