Friday, July 10, 2009

Basslines: No Woman, No Cry

Bob Marley and the Wailers: No Woman, No Cry


I have mentioned elsewhere that the bass line is essential to the workings of funk. The other place where this is true is reggae. Rock typically has the rhythm in the drums, bass, and rhythm guitar, with the lead guitar playing a line that helps propel the song along. Reggae, on the other hand, has the rhythm in the drums and two guitars, with the bass playing the line that propels the song.

My introduction to reggae was Bob Marley’s album Natty Dread. The music on this album is a perfect example of what I mean. The song that first grabbed me off this album was No Woman, No Cry. I am not alone in this: the song routinely turns up on Bob Marley tribute albums, and is one of Marley’s most covered tunes. What surprises me is how many cover versions somehow lose the bass line. It’s just not the same song without it.

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