The Beatles: “A Day in the Life” – Paul McCartney’s Isolated Bass (Isolated Bass Week)

We’ve heard from a lot of readers who think that Paul McCartney is one of the most underrated bassists of all time.

Well, you can judge for yourself in today’s isolated track, which includes both McCartney’s bass and Ringo Starr’s drums on “A Day in the Life”, the last track on the 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The interplay between these two is pretty magical.

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Share your thoughts

  1. That’s…..just odd. I don’t know what to think or say…wow.

    • What do you think makes it odd?

    • Corey Brown Normally the song is IN the bass and drums, I think this time it’s more in the vocals and piano. I can’t really feel it as much with the ISO. I guess it goes to show that the rhythm can come from anywhere.

    • I agree w sebastian, but i just think these guys played their role in a song to the t, many of the other iso bass tracks sound like a whole complete song on their own. These guys fit like puzzle pieces…

    • Sebastian Dior I suppose the tune is tattooed in my brain… I could hear all the melodies/vocals in my head throughout.

  2. If you could know music as Paul McCartney and play all the instruments on songs that he has done, this man is a Genius…there were stories that he would go back on tracks already recorded and do the drums that Ringo already had laid down…how could Paul ever be a underrated Bass player.

    • Well said Dale! I think the thing is that McCartney isn’t often included in the same conversation as the more modern bassists (or even the bassists of his era). Whenever we do celebrate something from Paul’s massive catalog, people usually respond with that statement. So we try to share more :)

    • John

      It’s a myth that Paul re-recorded any of Ringo’s drum parts. Paul did drum on a few Beatles songs when Ringo was unavailable, but he didn’t replace Ringo’s parts.

  3. Paul might not be a bass virtuoso, but he certainly is one of the most complete musicians in the world… I mean, he plays a whole lot of instruments, and does great with each one… But, as a bassist, I also think he is underrated… Just check out a couple of his “Wings” tunes, like “Silly Love Songs” and “Goodbye Tonight”… Some of the finest bass lines I’ve ever heard… :)

    • Paul is an ultimate musician. What he does musically just fits and inspires. He was slammed by John after the breakup, but in my opinion John was a “personal” musician and Paul is an overall ultimate musician.

  4. Paul McCartney is one of the greatest bass players period! Yes he is and always will be a complete genius. A Day in the Life is a great bass line but there are so many. Something is one of my favorite bass lines or Come Together features his bass line. Underated these days could very well be possible for the younger generation but my kids know who he is. Pull out a turntable and play any Beatles LP or Wings LP and listen it thru and remember what players like Paul have done for the music and not just on bass either. Share that same experience with your kids most of them do not even know what a record is.

  5. Very melodic, dynamic and personal sounding. Drums have nice space reverb.

  6. Paul, to me at least, was the 1st bassist to do “pretty” bass lines. Old Brown Shoe is one I would love to hear ISO. There are just so many great bass lines on Beatles/Wings songs. I have a feeling that George Martin was a huge influence as he probably introduced a very young Paul to orchestral arrangements.

    • I’ve always liked the bass line on “Something”

    • Paul is and will always be my favorite bass player. To me, his bass playing is saying “hold on tight, this is going to be a great ride” and his bass playing takes you there. If I had to pick my favorite it would be the bass in Penny Lane. What is even crazier is Paul was arguably the best guitar player and drummer in the Beatles.

  7. This was excellent, thank you for posting. What is striking to me is this was 1967. Thanks, in part, to Paul, bass began to move into the forefront of the mix and play a more pronounced role in rock music.

    • Glad you liked it Joel, and thanks for your note. I agree… sometimes it is easy to forget that this was a different world, and that the pioneers who paved the way for us today weren’t doing the norm back then.

  8. A long time ago I read a mini biography or a magazine article about Paul. When asked the question about his bass lines I remember one part of his answer. I am a bassist and the words have stuck with me ever since that time. He alluded to the fact something like there was an epiphany for him when he heard the Beach Boys recording of Good Vibrations. The article said that song changed the way he thought about the bass and writing bass lines. He incorporated more melody in those bass line from that moment. I don’t know what album that occurred on but his later albums showcase his melodic playing and steered him away from being a “root” bassist. The Beatles had a very simple, but distinct writing style. They were masters of using the common I, IV, V progression and all of its inversions. Plus, they came up with many beautiful melodies. No wonder they still sell millions of recordings. Each generation can see the and hear the beauty of their music. I believe they will never have an equal.

  9. Love Paul McCartney. He’s one of my inpirations. He played such amazing and original basslines which really stand out to me (ex: in Hey Bulldog).

  10. Been listening to McCartney and The Beatles since the beginning…McCartney has always been a melodic bass player…really listen to the bass on “All My Loving”…it’s a bit different for a singing instrumentalist because they tend to automatically think of what fits the song…espcially if they wrote it. Underrated, yes..because he’s not JUST a bass player who happens to sing and produce..Paul is a melodic vocalist as well…so goes his bass playing…he may have given “Good Vibrations” a listen and picked up a little extra “seasoning”, but have you noticed his concentration on the “Hey Bulldog” video…the guy has always been the one to listen to for being a solid, but musical bassist.

  11. Really good example of a contrapuntal bass line that serves as a foundation for the other “voices”. George Martin probably turned them on to counterpoint, voice leading, etc. and they absorbed it into the songs. Did anyone hear the chair squeak at about 5:10? I wonder if that was in the original recording…

  12. well sir Paul and I have the same birthday june 18.So in 1965 when I was 15 I just had to get me a bass! I am still playing! still have that bass! still playing the Beatles and yes he is totally under rated to me hes the best!

  13. Paul is one amongst others who are brilliant on bass. Think about it when you listen to Andy Fraser, John Paul Jones, John Entwistle, James Jamerson, Stuart Hamm, Jimmy Haslip, Carol Kaye, Chuck Rainey. Do I need to go on? And besides these geniuses there are a lot of, and when I say “a lot of”, I mean a lot of, unknown bass players who are brilliant as well on bass. So lets cut the the bullshit about this or that bass player, they’re all fuckin’ good.

  14. ???

    that’s real vintage sound^^ is this palyed hofner?

  15. Yep, Paul deserves the praise, but I love Ringo’s part too.
    Remember it took the FOUR of them to change history.

  16. Yep, Paul deserves the praise, but I love Ringo’s part too.
    Remember it took the FOUR of them to change history.

  17. Could you isolate some Dee Murray tracks from Elton John’s records…. especially Someone Saved My Life Tonight.. and anything off Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.. like Danny Bailey…

  18. Further proof that our current paradigm of click tracks sucks.

  19. grazie ragazzi!!!!

  20. Bob Boyce

    Clearly seen here is that Paul’s Bass is the source of ‘forward motion ‘ in the ‘whole’ of the Beatle catalog. There is genuine knowledge of the arranged sections and always putting the vocal line above the mix while ‘lifting’ the band with yes ‘forward motion’. Many good music writers forget that if the bass player does not have the ‘Big Picture’ of the tune the tune in most cases will fall short and not be received by the listener. Paul was the nucleus of the Beatles.

  21. I think if this wasn’t The Beatles, people would make fun of this.

  22. A few cats here hit the nail on the head….the magic word is melody. A really good bass player plays melodic bass lines. Look no further than Bach’s Figured Bass for inspiration. Some cats do this naturally by ear. Others are just knowledgeable and know exactly what to do during a certain chord progression. In the sixties pop era most bass players were quite content in staying on the root since most were just really guitar players. But dudes like Paul were multi-instrumentalist. So he knew exactly what to do to make it pretty, it was all in the Bass. Underrated bass player? I never heard that being said about Paul as a bass player. Must be a lot of young wannabes that have not yet paid homage to the masters.

  23. thay singh

    Nope sorry. Whatever Paul’s virtues as a musician (and they are many), this certainly isn’t a stand-out bass line. In fact, there are a few places where it sounds downright clumsy. Under-rated bass player? He’s about average…

    • I like it. It’s amazing how well such a simple bass line actually works in the song. I think Paul’s talent lies in the writing more than the actual playing, I don’t see too many bass players having real trouble playing this, but I don’t think I’ve heard any others actually write stuff like this.

  24. Tony Clark

    Paul McCartney, genius! And on so many levels but being a bass player myself I particularly appreciate his approach to adding bass to a song!

  25. Hey Corey….I always love the discussion the ensues once we all get to listen in on an isolated bass track .Paul McCartney certainly has to be recognized as an innovative bassist that set the bar very high.The way he plays into a song is just amazing & imaginative.I am always impressed when a bass player does “unexpected ” bass runs that make me smile and shake my head . I have miles of smiles from the many basslines Sir Paul has graced us with over the years . Thanks again,Corey,and BASS ON !!!

  26. Charlie Schofield

    I don’t think that before Paul McCartney, bass players were as melodic. I’m not saying that there weren’t melodic players out there, but he really cemented that style in the 60s. Listening to this, to me , really brings home what an original player he was. There are lots of baddass players in the world. But Paul was not just a bass player trying to clime to the top of the heap of great bassists. (Like so many!) Paul McCartney helped to write fresh new songs with the Beatles, and played such well crafted parts, and in such an original way. He wins my heart, because of that, and because I grew up listening to him, not because he wows me with his chops.

  27. Randy King

    This was an overdub, as were many of Paul’s bass parts starting with Revolver. Paul’s first work on the track was all pianos. Ringo wasn’t excited about doing all those fills (he preferred simpler drumming) but he did a great job.