Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bass Line Assessment

Yesterday morning I struggled with a clue for BASS LINE. Should it suggest Paul McCartney's bass playing? Paul Robeson's voice? A barbershop quartet part?  Nah . . . I just gave up and moved on to other matters.

Very late last night (too late) I indulged in a Law & Order CI rerun which provided some good grid words. Who needs an EAMES chair clue when there's tough-talking Det. Alexandra EAMES played by Kathryn ERBE? "Criminal Intent" is one of the better L&W series; I like Vincent D'Onofrio as Eames's slightly-off partner.

This episode ("Albatross") opens with a re-enactment of the Alexander Hamilton/Aaron Burr duel. The opening theme immediately grabbed you -- "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie.

Bingo! "Under Pressure" opens with one of the most famous BASS LINE riffs ever (later appropriated by Vanilla Ice). The vocals: four-octave phenom-legend Freddie Mercury.

(. . . still struggling with the clue -- can't get the Queen riff out of my head . . . )


Jazzbumpa said...

"Sometimes it's walking."
"It can be walking."

Something alone those LINES.

Feel free to contact me with any music questions.

JzB who plays at cross words and bass trombone

Elizabeth said...

Thank you JzB -- I like the walking bass line. Great idea. There's nothing pedestrian about your clue . . . :)

Orange said...

How about [Memorable part of the "Barney Miller" opening theme]? Would the show have been as good without that bass line?

Andrew Ries said...

Great post! FWIW, a major supporting character in this year's smash hit movie "Inception" is named EAMES. I was probably the only one in the theater who rejoiced at the possibility of retiring the use of chair master Charles in future crosswords!

Elizabeth said...

Orange, GREAT CATCH! Who can forget that distinctive opening bass line to Barney Miller, one of the best TV shows ever. You nailed that one -thanks!

Elizabeth said...

Andrew, you're way ahead of me in the movie department; I've not seen "Inception" yet. Your EAMES reference will come in handy, for sure -- thanks for the tip.

Daniel said...

How about a reference to the fact that Vanilla Ice stole the "Under Pressure" bass line for "Ice Ice Baby?"

Joon said...

Bottom of an arrangement
Low-down notes?
Stand-up material, perhaps?
Where the tonic can usually be found

(okay, that last one is probably too theoretical...)

Elizabeth said...

Daniel, you used the right word -- "stole." Compared to the brilliance of Queen, Vanilla Ice is a thin, watery mess. We shouldn't forget that he stole from Queen.

Joon, you're on a roll. Love these, esp. "Low-down notes?" I'm sure composers would lap up the the tonic reference.

nanpilla said...

Bass Line: Spawn here often?

Great puzzle today, by the way! With the musical theme, thought this might be where I would see BASSLINE.

Joanne said...

Haha it's amazing the random places where you find inspiration. Mine usually hit me in the shower. It's usually quite inopportune as I don't usually have a pen and paper there.

Elizabeth said...

@nanpilla: hee-hee . . . "Spawn here often?" is classic. Re today's puzzle: the BASS LINE query was just a coincidence, er . . . conspiracy.

@joanne: Agreed! The shower is good for ideation. Perhaps the hot water de-stresses and makes ideas flow ...