Does "Tennessee Whiskey" have a difficult bass part?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by 51PRI, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. 51PRI


    Aug 7, 2014
    In the band I play guitar in we have had three different bass players say "I don't play it like the record" when it comes to playing "Tennessee Whiskey" but what they DO play isn't really anything, and certainly not a bass "part."

    Is that a difficult bass part to play?
    RyanOh likes this.
  2. 4SG


    Mar 6, 2014
    Phud, CB3UK, EddiePlaysBass and 12 others like this.
  3. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    I'm listening to the Chris Stapleton recording right now, and it just sounds like an ordinary 1-2m-5 tune in 12/8. What do you mean "a bass part"? Any competent bass player can play the tune in 12/8. No need to reproduce the exact notes played on the record.

    These bass players, are they playing the correct chords, and playing a simple spare 12/8 part? If so, then they're playing the tune.\

    How do you think "the" recording came to be, anyway? Either Stapleton's bassist, who is probably an experienced professional bassist, came into the studio and played the part, no music, based on the chord progression and rhythmic feel, or a studio guy came in, played the part based on the chord progression and rhythmic feel. Do you really think that every single time Stapleton performs this tune, that his bass player plays the exact same notes at the exact same time?

    It's folk music, everyone. It's derived from a combination of African-American practice and Scotch-Irish farmer/musician practice. You play what sounds and feels right at the time. Sometimes you play it faster, sometimes you play it slower; sometimes the bass player plays more busy, sometimes more spare.
    DrMole, Jazzdogg, Ronzo and 9 others like this.
  4. RyanOh

    RyanOh Gold Supporting Member

    It's in 12/8, which might bother some people in terms of timing. It's a slow tune, so no it's not hard.
    You do have take the time to learn the riff though, and maybe they figure it's a two chord song I'll just fake it.

    I faked it the first couple of times it came up and then went and learned it properly.

    Regarding who wrote the bassline...this song is not really Stapleton. It's Etta James singing I'd Rather Go Blind...pretty much note for note.
    Mr_Moo, Michedelic, petrus61 and 24 others like this.
  5. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Don't know what you mean "the riff"; I just hear some triplet drops here and there, otherwise mostly playing on the one and the "ah" (1-x-3-1-x-3 in 12/8). Did I miss some signature riff? Whole thing seems pretty darn basic and straightforward to me.

    Jeez, who listens closely enough to this kind of thing to figure out whether you're deviating from the one true recording or not, anyway? I mean, it's not like "So What" or "Red Clay" or "Roundabout".
    BOOG, Blueinred, JRA and 2 others like this.
  6. Bad Bob

    Bad Bob Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2020
    Niskayuna, New York.
    It is a simple song, and the bassist on the recording plays a relatively simple, repetitive part, albeit tasty. Probably your bass players in your group are telling you that they were going to dress the part up, with a little more movement. That’s ok as long as they don’t play too busy and detract from the simple beauty of the song.
    pcake and JRA like this.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    There's no 5. It's just 1-2m-2m-1 the whole song. I've heard bass players play both 1m-2m and 1-2. Both are wrong. Both sound awful.

    It's a really simple part. And it makes the song to me. It fills gaps without being too much.

    I don't play every single song "like the record". But I do on that one. That's a "steady as she goes" song for me.

    I've seem Chris do it live half a dozen times. His bass player plays it perfectly for the song every time.
    BassGuyFL, DrMole, Pacman and 14 others like this.
  8. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Well, that song would easily be ruined by overplaying.

    I guess I missed the lack of a 5.
    Phaenomenal and two fingers like this.
  9. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Sussex WI
    We do that tune and I like that fact that I can play what I feel cause it’s only a two (2) chord song
    COM-on MAN!
    Freddy T likes this.
  10. Maybe one of you is thinking of the Chris Stapleton version, and the other is thinking David Allen Coe or George Jones? Very different feels, and I can see how that would be confusing, if you're not all on the same page.
  11. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    It's an easy song, but you have to nail the feel and it's slow, so there is a lot of time in between beats to drift compared to an up tempo song.
  12. kevindahl


    Aug 21, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    The challenge of this song, which I have never heard before, is that there are slight melodic/rhythmic variations throughout the song. For me it's not the actual part per se that's challenging but trying to remember to play all the parts like the recording.

    Our band is learning a John Mayer tune, "Who do you think I was". There are many different riffs through out the tune. For me playing them is way easier than remembering where and how to play them if that makes any sense. This seems to be more of a problem as I get older.

    Great tune and great part.
    Ggaa likes this.
  13. 51PRI


    Aug 7, 2014
    You've never heard "Tennessee Whiskey?"
    Why not?

    Is it the same bass part as on the Etta James song? If so then, to me, that makes it even more important to get it right. In this case "right" means like the record.

    I agree. The song without the right bass part sounds like crap. The bass part has a swing to it that isn't improved by what the bass players that I have played it with have chosen to play instead of the original part.

  14. thabassmon


    Sep 26, 2013
    New Zealand
    Delivering on the vocals is the "difficult" part in this song, the bass not so much. Just think fat, and nail the feel.
    Bassman Spiff and Mvf like this.
  15. RyanOh

    RyanOh Gold Supporting Member

    Same bass as Etta James. Same repeating pattern throughout the song.
    Mr_Moo, petrus61, Lupob6 and 3 others like this.
  16. 51PRI


    Aug 7, 2014
    I disagree. I think on this song the bass part, which is AFAIK the same for the entire song, should be played just like the record. The record is sparse, and the bass is the most dominant part other than the vocal.
    Chris Breese, todd burns and braud357 like this.
  17. thabassmon


    Sep 26, 2013
    New Zealand
    OK. Maybe it's just every time I hear this song, I find myself singing along so for me it's a song that is all about the vocals.
    But if you feel the bass part, that's awesome too.
  18. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    I'm having a weird moment.

    I learned "Tennessee Whiskey" on an upright bass, before the internet [in a useful format] existed. Chris Stapleton was in grade school. :facepalm::bag::help:

    FWIW, I love what he did with the tune.
  19. 51PRI


    Aug 7, 2014
    For me it's like when I've played with bass players who played along with the guitar part on "Cocaine" and "Smoke on the Water" instead of actually playing the bass part. Is it horrible? Probably not. Does the crowd know? Maybe not, but it completely changes the feel of the songs for those who are aware, and if the band members can't be bothered to be aware, and play it right, then, as in that other thread, good enough is good enough, I guess.
    Mr_Moo, DrMole, petrus61 and 5 others like this.
  20. thabassmon


    Sep 26, 2013
    New Zealand
    I know what you mean, the staple songs that people overplay because they're "easy".
    I wasn't trying to promote that approach but rather trying to promote nailing the feel.
    Next time I hear it, I'll try not to get distracted by the vocals and sing (hard, I really like this song) but try to focus solely on the bass part.
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