Lesson Cover Songs

In the middle of 2019 I started taking bass lessons from Steve Baranowski once a week for an hour. After a few weeks I asked if we could spend part of each lesson covering a new song every week. It didn't have to be challenging necessarily -- I just wanted the pleasure of making music, instead of it being me endlessly fumbling about with scales and concepts. Steve agreed to it, and so here they are -- the songs we've covered.

They are one take affairs, mostly the first/only take, captured by an ambient mic. This is quick and dirty, and the resulting mix is not great, but this way leaves more time for the real lesson. Usually we play along to a karaoke backing track which has had guitar and bass removed. Lacking that, we either play to a generic drum pattern or, once, to a youtube drum cover.

In the table below, there are one to three versions of each song. The different versions are as follows.

This is the version recorded during the lesson with Steve
During the coronavirus lockdown of 2020, I went back and re-recorded each of these covers. Between having a bit more practice and having fewer issues with room acoustics, this version is a lot cleaner. All the same, each is a single take with no edits, though usually there is some EQ and compression to make it pop more. The mix tends towards heavy on the bass to make it easier for my teacher to hear and critique my playing. Plus I like it that way. :-)
This is the isolated bass track from the clean recording. It is remarkable how much sloppiness is hidden in the full mix!
Date Artist Song lesson clean bass only Time Comments
2021-03-01 Stevie Ray Vaughan Texas Flood clean drum & bass 5:25 Another really good backing track form karaoke-version.com
2021-02-12 Van Morrison Brown Eyed Girl clean drum & bass 3:10 Classic to the point of cheesy. My playing against just the drum sounds OK, but in the final mix it sounds deadly stiff.
2021-02-06 The Beatles Get Back clean drum & bass 3:12 Not perfect, but good enough for the 2nd take
2021-02-05 Booker T and the MG's Time Is Tight clean drum & bass 3:18 Probably the 2nd most famous Booker T song, after Green Onions. Duck Dunn bass line.
2021-02-02 The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band clean drum & bass 1:59 Paul McCartney bass line. The backing track vocals are great, but the synth drum is terrible.
2021-01-31 The Beatles Come Together clean bass 4:21 Paul McCartney bass line (of course). I'm not sure how to duplicate the original tone.
2021-01-30 Martha and the Vandellas Nowhere To Run clean bass 3:00 A relatively simple James Jamerson bass line, but with plenty of little variations
2021-01-24 Otis Redding (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay clean bass 2:44 Another Duck Dunn bass line; the vocal sounds pretty autotuned to me
2021-01-23 Doobie Brothers Long Train Runnin' clean drum & bass 3:31 A great bass line by the great Tiran Porter. The backing track is kind of a muddy mess, though.
2021-01-17 Tom Petty American Girl clean drum & bass 3:36 Classic song
2021-01-14 Booker T. & the MG's Hip Hug-Her clean bass 2:20 Duck Dunn bass line, with lots of fuzz
2021-01-12 Eddie Floyd Knock On Wood clean bass 3:05 Another Duck Dunn bass line, using my "motown" bass. Like many of these backing tracks, the singer seems to be nordic.
2021-01-12 The Beatles Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds clean bass 3:37 With a pick and some damping foam, but on my Supro with roundwound strings.
2021-01-05 Steely Dan Deacon Blues clean bass 7:19 This backing track comes from a bass transcription book; great instrumentation, but no vocals
2021-01-01 Queen Crazy Little Thing Called Love clean bass 2:41 The drum machine in the backing track is regrettable, and I push the beat in places, but overall a lot of fun to play.
2020-12-29 Otis Redding Respect clean drum & bass 2:12 This is Otis Redding's "Respect", which came a couple years before Aretha Franklin's more popular version.
2020-12-24 The Beatles Dig A Pony clean bass 3:38 I used to play this sometimes with Gary et al, but I never recorded it. Using a pick. Take 2 of 2.
2020-12-22 Al Green Let's Stay Together clean bass 3:20 A little bit loose take on it; I didn't sweat the exact rhythms in some places
2020-11-22 Stevie Wonder Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours) clean drum & bass 2:41 There is some question about it, but most people believe it is Bob Babbitt on bass
2020-11-11 Sam and Dave Soul Man clean bass 2:42 Duck Dunn bassline. I'm crowding the beat again; funny I can't hear it when playing but I can on playback.
2020-11-08 Marvin Gaye Let's Get It On clean bass 4:08 Jamerson bassline; lots of fun to play, even if imperfectly
2020-11-05 Elvis Presley Can't Help Falling In Love With You clean bass 2:57 On my fretless
2020-11-03 Pink Floyd Hey You clean bass 4:41 Another excuse to use my fretless. I did three takes and all were about the same.
2020-11-02 Sam and Dave Hold On I'm Comin' clean bass 2:42 Duck Dunn bassline, played on my Motown bass. The backing track seems a bit plodding when compared to the original.
2020-11-01 Marvin Gaye I Heard It Through The Grapevine clean bass 3:18 Another Jamerson Bassline. Less technical, but the incessant syncopations and variations mean I sometimes am stabbing at the timing instead of being 100% sure of it.
2020-10-26 Steely Dan Pretzel Logic clean bass 4:32 Better than I could do it 18 months ago. I'll try again in 18 months more.
2020-10-25 Bill Withers Ain't No Sunshine clean bass 1:58 Bassline by Donald "Duck" Dunn. Played on my fretless.
2020-10-20 Albert King Born Under A Bad Sign clean bass 2:51 Bassline by Donald "Duck" Dunn. Simple but effective unison with the guitar riff.
2020-10-18 Marvin Gaye Ain't No Mountain High Enough clean bass 2:27 Yet another great Jamerson bassline, with my Motown bass and a bit of distortion on it.
2020-09-21 Marvin Gaye Ain't That Peculiar clean bass 3:05 Another great Jamerson bassline. Using my "Motown bass", a Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar bass with tapewound strings and a sponge under the strings near the bridge to "thuddify" the tone.
2020-09-13 Marvin Gaye How Sweet It Is clean bass 3:00 Everyone knows the James Taylor version, but it was Marvin Gaye's first. Jamerson bassline, and I have trouble not rushing the beat.
2020-08-19 Norah Jones Sunrise clean bass 3:18 Used my fretless bass on this one
2020-06-10 youtuber Artmant Studios Rock backing track clean 5:30 This is an attempt to create a bass part for this bass-free backing track. I played along to the video, to generate some ideas, then did one take.
2020-06-10 youtuber Tomas Sandanus Music Sad Dark Power Ballad backing track clean 4:02 This is an attempt to create a bass part for this bass-free backing track. I generated some ideas, then made to takes of the pieces that seemed promising. This is the second take. More takes could improve it, but I didn't have it in me.
2020-06-10 youtuber Music Jam Tracks Neo Soul backing track clean 10:44 This is an attempt to create a bass part for this bass-free backing track. However, I never found find anything I liked, and since it goes on for 10 minutes, I just got frustrated and never tried extract the good ideas and polish it. It is pretty embarassing to post, but it is what it is.
2020-06-02 youtuber Quist Quist Jam clean 5:16 The exercise for the week was to take a bass-free backing track and come up with something structured, instead of just noodling. My timing is poor because I'm thinking hard about what to play next!
2020-04-08 Allman Brothers Stormy Monday clean bass 8:38 quick take playing my new fretless bass
2020-03-11 Allman Brothers Melissa lesson clean bass 4:01
2020-03-04 Marvin Gaye Mercy Mercy Me lesson clean bass 3:18 I didn't spend enough time practicing it
2020-02-19 Marvin Gaye What's Going On lesson clean bass 3:57 lots of faking on my part
2020-02-12 Elvis Costello Alison lesson clean bass 3:32
2020-01-22 Elvis Costello Pump It Up lesson clean bass 3:25
2020-01-15 Robin Trower Too Rolling Stoned lesson clean bass 5:45 Steve had the shred dial turned up to 9
2020-01-08 Elvis Costello Peace Love and Understanding lesson clean bass 3:41
2020-01-01 The Waitresses Christmas Wrapping clean bass 5:41 bass-heavy mix
2019-12-18 Neil Young Cinnamon Girl lesson clean bass 2:52
2019-12-11 Crowded House It's Only Natural lesson clean bass 3:27 clean take has original on left; me on right (too stiffly)
2019-12-04 R.E.M. Radio Free Europe lesson clean bass 3:37
2019-11-27 Led Zeppelin Hey Hey What Can I Do lesson clean bass 4:03 1:30 is the sound of me tossing down pages of sheet music
2019-11-13 The Pretenders Back On The Chain Gang lesson clean bass 4:07
2019-11-06 Elvis Costello Watching The Detectives lesson clean bass 3:57
2019-10-30 Jimi Hendrix Fire lesson clean bass 2:47
2019-10-16 Pink Floyd Money lesson clean bass 6:26 the lesson had a few problems with transitions
2019-10-09 The Cars You Might Think lesson clean bass 3:10 Rick Ocasek, 1944-2019
2019-10-02 The Police Roxanne lesson clean bass 3:22 using a pick; palm muting the quiet parts
2019-09-25 Talking Heads And She Was clean bass 3:39
2019-09-18 Kansas Carry On Wayward Son lesson 5:25
2019-09-04 The Beatles Taxman lesson 2:46 the busy bass part at 0'54" is a fun train wreck
2019-09-04 ZZ Top La Grange lesson clean bass 3:46 took another try at this
2019-08-28 ZZ Top La Grange lesson 3:48
2019-08-21 Jimi Hendrix Manic Depression lesson clean bass 3:45 took another try at this; better, but still fumbled a few times
2019-08-07 Jimi Hendrix Manic Depression lesson 4:28 playing to drum cover; bass sucks
2019-07-31 The Police Driven To Tears lesson clean bass 3:29 lesson: played to drum cover; clean: me on left channel and original on right
2019-07-24 Cream Sunshine Of Your Love lesson clean bass 3:32 / 4:07 drum machine backing; next student arrived in the middle
2019-07-17 Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze lesson clean bass 3:18 drum machine backing on lesson take, karaoke backing track on clean take