As a musician, I’ve always been far more passionate and enthralled about the bass than I ever was about your typical six string guitar.
To me, there was something about that fat, deep sound that was infinitely more enticing and seductive than the scratch and scrape of a guitar, something that infused the song with life and gave it a soul in the way that no other instrument including the human voice could manage.
I even remember the song that made me fall so hopelessly in love with the bass that I just had to learn how to play it:
Not long after I got my first proper taste of Guns ‘n’ Roses in the form of Garden of Eden, I went out and bought a copy of Appetite For Destruction.
I loved it immediately. Songs like Nightrain, Out Ta Get Me, and My Michelle all quickly became firm favourites and remain so to this day.
We’ve Been Dancing With Mr. Brownstone
Whilst most of what I loved about Guns ‘n’ Roses in those days was rooted in the band’s rock ‘n’ roll attitude and unbridled sense of debauchery, there was still something about the quality of the music itself that really appealed to me, especially when it came to Duff McKagan’s bass playing.
Deep, delicious, and undeniably groovy, it formed the heart of every track on Appetite for Destruction. Nowhere was this more evident than on Mr. Brownstone, where the bass isn’t just the heart of the song, but also its soul.
At the time, I had no idea that seriously infectious rock ‘n’ roll song was about heroin. All I knew was that it sounded utterly incredible, and it was all because of Duff McKagan and his bass.
It was loud and boisterous, and yet at the same time drenched in sex appeal, rolling through the song with an effortless swagger that made the whole thing cooler than just about anything else on Appetite’.
I Just Keep Tryin’ To Get a Little Better
It was because of that song that McKagan became more than just the bass player in one of my favourite bands. He became something of a personal hero, somebody I idolised and wanted to be like.
The fact that I already had the long, blonde hair thing going for me was a start, but I needed more, I needed a bass of my own.
I saved up my money and paid for a second-hand four-string from the pawn brokers in town, and from that moment on, the bass became my instrument.
To me, if nobody else, it became a part of who I was. It became my sole function when getting together with friends to play music, my trusted companion when I found myself alone and in need of cheering up.
Don’t get me wrong, even today, I don’t necessarily consider myself a very good musician, but to me that doesn’t matter.
What matters is the influence and inspiration I drew from Duff McKagan and his bass work on Mr. Brownstone, an influence which continues to loom large in my life even today as I finish this post, pick up my four string and jam, just for the sake of hearing that deep, seductive groove I fell in love with years ago.
Mr. Brownstone by Guns ‘n’ Roses is the 20th song in my list of 52 songs that changed my life. Other entries in this list are below:
- Michael Jackson – Bad
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
- Queen – The Hitman
- R.E.M – Drive
- Pink Floyd – The Wall
- The Eagles – Take it Easy
- Beautiful South – Old Red Eyes is Back
- Coal Chamber – Loco
- Type O Negative – Everything Dies
- Monster Magnet – Space Lord
- Live – The Dolphin’s Cry
- Metallica – The Memory Remains
- The Prodigy – Poison
- Nirvana – Territorial Pissings
- Iron Maiden – The Angel & The Gambler
- Metallica – Creeping Death
- Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
- System of a Down – Sugar
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Garden of Eden