Think of your all time favourite band.  Now think of your all time favourite song.  I want to ask you a question:  Who is the leader of the band?  Is it the lead singer or is it the lead guitarist or…?  I am guessing that the majority of my readers will not choose the drummer, but I wonder how many will agree with me and choose the bass player? 

For me; as in business, I find that the best leaders are those that are content to lead from behind, only stepping to the front when they really need to. It’s not important for them to show off, front of stage.  They are absolutely fine with simply coming up with the strategy and vision and then letting their team achieve the results and reap the glory.  After all, that’s what a leader needs to do if they want to keep everyone motivated.

To illustrate my point I have come up with my all time favourite backstage leadership, bass driven songs.

  1. Robbie Williams: Let me entertain you
  2. Ian Dury: Hit me with your rhythm stick
  3. Pink Floyd: Money
  4. Bob Marley: Jammin’
  5. Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush: Don’t Give Up
  6. Stevie Wonder: Think of me as your soldier
  7. Jeff Beck: Cause we’ve ended as lovers (with Tal Wilkenfield on bass)
  8. Gene Chandler: Get Down
  9. George Michael: Cowboys & Angels
  10. Led Zeppelin: Whole Lotta Love

Now some might say “where is Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the wild side’ or Rory Gallagher’s ‘Messin’ with the kid’?”  But the choice is almost impossible.  The common denominator must be that the bass should drive the song without becoming the solo instrument (so in a way Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ should really be excluded).  The trick is to listen to the song by focusing only on the bass.  If you take time out to listen closely to only my first two choices, I think you will find that they illustrate my point perfectly?

As an alternative approach try taking a really crass song like Queen’s ‘Under pressure’ (sorry Queen fans) and remove the bass line and you are left with absolutely nothing.  On a bass line like that you could literally play anything on top and it would sound great.

So, let me ask you one more question: what are your top ten bass driven tracks? And do you agree that often the real inspirational leaders are playing bass, rather than singing upfront?

Have a good week.