#50 – John Told Me To

Another person has decided to tell me something about music. John McKenzie is one of the most accomplished session bass players around. His CV reads like a who’s who of popular music over the last three decades; from Bob Dylan to David Bowie, The Eurythmics to Shakira and some Lionel Richie on the side, you start to realise just how good this guy must be. Here are a few of his favourite songs…

Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe [Buy]

My sister bought the single in 1966 and I just remember being dumbstruck by it! Everything… The vocal, the story ( “Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand…” quite in your face in the 1960’s) the guitar playing… To die for! I had just started getting into guitar, and this record left me dizzy with excitement; it opened my ears to rock music…… I became instantly addicted. My sister went crazy as I kept pinching it, and would play it over and over again……… The guitar solo when it comes, is almost orgasmic! Wonderful music.

The Temptations – Papa Was A Rolling Stone [Buy]

A masterpiece, in my opinion. The story is at once so sad, but also uplifting……

“Papa was a rollin’ stone / Wherever he laid his hat was his home / And when he died, all he left us was alone”

The musical arrangement to this day dazzles me still. The amazing use of the bass guitar – never strays from its one riff – and it leaves this gorgeous space which gets filled by dazzling modern day Motown strings and brass and actually full orchestra; the genius of arranger, Paul Riser, is shown here in his full glory. The full length version clocks in at 12 minutes! And there is only one chord in the whole song!! B flat minor……….. Between the record’s producer, another genius, Norman Whitfield, the arranger, Riser, and of course the superlative four vocals, to this day leave me feeling thrilled and bewitched by such a mega groove and great, great song. And it ranked #168 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

Stevie Wonder – Tuesday Heartbreak [Buy]

For me, one of the best songs ever written. It’s a simple song, but sung so superbly by Stevie that, for me, it has stood the test of time. Awesome saxophone by David Sanborn helps create this freshness that I’ve rarely heard on any other recorded music piece. Stevie’s drumming and the bass line on synth are both big ingredients in this tasty and mighty cake that got baked to perfection by the wonderful Steveland Morris…….

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