Jaco Pastorius (YGtCTO Music #77)

Soul Intro/The Chicken

Composed by Jaco Pastorius and Pee Wee Ellis, performed by Jaco Pastorius

So, I’ve been listening to more Metallica in the last couple years. Yes, I came to them via Jaco. For that matter, I had a little moment when I was watching the Lemmy documentary and Metallica showed up near the end for a cameo. At one point, in the studio with the Motorhead leader, Robert Trujillo is playing a bass that looks a lot like Jaco’s, though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t… I know that Trujillo purchased Jaco’s bass for Jaco’s family.

The strange thing about the bass is that it is the only instrument that I unequivocably associate with happiness. You can play totally beautiful, heartbreaking melodies on the instrument- I won’t deny that. Even so, I can’t help thinking of the instrument and not smile. I mean- James Jamerson and Jaco Pastorius contributed more to my happy days than just about any artist that I can name. I don’t think that I’m alone in that. Add in Carol Kaye and you have pretty much covered bliss. So, don’t spare that appreciation for Kaye since she’s all we have left. (I’ve been jamming to a lot of Paul Chambers lately, too.)

Jaco Pastorius

Thinking about some of the other art forms,
the sonnet comes closest to the bass for me. Struggling within some of the most rigid confines in literature, sonnets most consistently speak directly to the reader. The rules applied to sonnets force the art to speak directly to our hearts while fascinating our minds with seeming simplicity. Certainly, every poet is not Shakespeare, but the sonnet often elevates the mundane writer as it surely elevates the audience.

Pastorius and the rest are surely the bassist equivalents of Shakespeare and Browning and Donne and Keats. If basses or poems are your bag, then you probably have heaps more to name.

But in the end, there is another overlap that John Donne highlights. While writing this I remembered his immortal poem as I meditated on Jamerson and Pastorius. I want to interpret “Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow” differently than it appears to me intended.

All right, maybe that is where the difference lies between the bass and the sonnet- I have yet to hear the bass that could make me weep in the moment (though yes for the loss of the musician) and I would rather forego both as much as possible, if you don’t mind.

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 71 more to go.

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