Geddy Lee’s opinion on Paul McCartney
The Canadian bassist, singer and keyboardist Geddy Lee first achieved fame as the frontman of Rush, one of the most influential bands from North America. Even though he was the band’s singer and keyboardist, his biggest passion always was the bass guitar and he even wrote a book called “Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass”, released in 2018.
Not only on his book, but over the decades the musician talked about many of his peers and gave his opinion on them. One of those artists was the legendary Beatles bassist and singer Paul McCartney.
What is Geddy Lee’s opinion on Paul McCartney
Geddy Lee was only a 10-year-old kid when The Beatles released their debut album Please Please Me in 1963. By the time that the British band broke-up in 1970, Geddy was 17. So he accompanied the band’s career when he was a teenager and they were a big influence for him. Especially before he discovered the world of Progressive Rock music in the late 60s and early 70s.
Since he started playing the bass at an early age, he naturally would pay more attention to the bassists of the bands and in the Beatles case was Paul McCartney.
Talking with Rolling Stone magazine in 2020, Lee analyzed McCartney’s skills with the instrument and even said that he is overlooked as a bassist.
“(McCartney) gets overlooked as a bassist. But as a pop bassist goes, he’s such a melodic player. And you’re talking about a guy who wasn’t originally the bass player for the band. He adapted, of course. He picked it up.”
“I just find his story really interesting, as a bass player. So he comes at the instrument from a much more melodic place. You really hear that in a lot of Beatle music.”
“If you listen to ‘Taxman,’ or if you listen to ‘Come Together,’ and a range of music in between, that bass part is always so round. It’s always so bouncy and melodic. I think that’s really no small part of the infectious nature of Beatles songs. It really added a great element to those songs.”
Geddy Lee continued:
“I think he was sort of subconsciously working his way into my psyche as a bass player. Although the style of music that I played wasn’t The Beatles style of music, I did have great respect for them.”
“We used to play a version of a song called ‘Bad Boy’ that was fashioned sort of after a song that the Beatles did. The Beatles did a cover of that as well. So we all listened to the Beatles. I was always respectful of what Paul McCartney brought to the Beatles. Not only as a singer, but as a bass player,” Geddy Lee said.
Over the years he had talked many times about The Beatles bass lines, also calling them “really inventive, unusual and quite busy”. According to Geddy they were so good that they would changed the song completely. So for him, what makes players like McCartney and Chris Squire from Yes so good, it’s because they wrote melodies.
Some of his favorite Beatles songs
In 2019, Geddy Lee was invited by Amazon Music to list a few songs that inspired his bass playing consciously or subconsciously. Among the 22 tracks chosen by the musician there were two songs from The Beatles. The first was “Taxman” from the 1966 album “Revolver”. The second one “Come Together” from the 1969 album “Abbey Road”.
“I chose these songs because I’m such a ‘bass-centric dude’. That’s all I’ve been thinking about for the last few years. Is the role of bass in popular music and what I tried to do with my book (The Beautiful Book of Bass) was provide an alternate history of popular music through the point of view of the bass player. From the murky bottom end to the twangy top end.”
“John Entwistle, Chris Squire, they were playing the kind of music I wanted to play. So they were a direct influence on the kind of player I wanted to become. But there are others that were subconscious influences. I think we all have those when we listen to various music.”
“So I mean, there is a couple of Beatles songs on here. People remember The Beatles for their tune fullness and for the great vocals. But also Paul McCartney was quite an influential bass player and if you listen to ‘Come Together’. That’s a bold bass part in that song. If you listened to “Taxman”, that’s Heavy Metal before there was Heavy Metal,” Geddy Lee said (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage).
Geddy Lee had the chance to perform a Beatles song with John Lennon’s son
Geddy Lee never had the chance to perform with Paul McCartney or any other Beatle. But in 2019, he was invited by Claypool Lennon Delirium, band formed by Les Claypool from Primus and John Lennon‘s and Yoko Ono’s son Sean Lennon to perform with them in Toronto, Canada.
One of the tracks that they performed that night was The Beatles classic “Tomorrow Never Knows” from their 1966 album “Revolver”.