I recently returned to bass playing after a long hiatus (15+ years), and I’m just now learning that this Motown player named James Jamerson is being widely recognized as one of the greatest electric bassists, and rightly so. The only thing is, back when I regrettably put my bass down at the start of the 21st century, I had never ever heard his name spoken before. So what did I miss over the past 15 or so years that everyone else has copped to? When did the bass community begin to finally recognize him and give him his due? Was it the 2002 documentary about the Funk Brothers? And here is where I start to feel deeply moved and incredibly happy to have returned to my instrument. I ask about Jamerson partially because, having returned to playing after so long, and having the opportunity to rediscover his work, I’m gaining some real insight into what first drew me to bass back when I was a 14 year old. As a kid, growing up in my house my mom always had oldies playing—Motown, doo wop, and early R&B. I never appreciated it back then. If you had asked me what music I liked, I would never have said Marvin Gaye or The Temptations, but as an 8 year old white boy in the 1980s, I could sing every lyric to My Girl and What’s Going On. Those songs provided the soundtrack to my childhood home life and are burned into my memory. So hearing everyone talking about this guy named James Jamerson, and going back to listen to all those great Motown hits again, I’m struck by how much of his bass playing has been in my ear my whole life. I’m convinced that his melodic and groovy lines were what made the bass my instrument, long before I knew who he was or what was special about him. As an 8 year old kid hanging out at home with my mom, I heard Jamerson singing to me. I feel incredibly grateful for the gift my mother gave me by exposing me to that music, and grateful to see that the bass world has taught me James Jamerson’s name.