This week’s transcription features the beautiful bass line off Stevie Wonder’s 1970 release, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours" played by Bob Babbitt.
The three most well-known bassists for Stevie include Nathan Watts, James Jamerson, and Bob Babbitt.
While there are some mixed opinions on who played bass on this track, Babbitt usually takes the most votes in the discussions I’ve had offline and online (talkbass.com, etc.). Folks who intimately know his playing say it’s characteristic of Babbitt’s tone and rhythmic choices. Some say Jamerson would have embellished more. That’s good enough for me.
Though it does seem strange that allmusic.com cites Jamerson as the bassist, and, stranger still, there’s no mention of Babbitt playing on the album even on his own website’s discography.
Feel free to weigh in. I’m not scholarly (or passionate) enough on the issue to argue strongly one way or the other – my perspective is: it’s a great bass line, I enjoyed memorizing it, and I had fun transcribing.
Onto the transcription. For readers, it’s a nice mix of repetition and variation. To my thinking, there are really only three sections: the 2-4 bar intro/interlude, verse, and chorus. Those repeat predictably. But the rhythmic variations make for some challenging phrases, like measure 45 (approx 01:42 on the recording)… no downbeat for four measures! Puts one’s reading to the test since, the rest of the song, it’s a bass line that heavily emphasizes the downbeat…. forcing us to play something other than, perhaps, what our ears would expect. For me this also makes for pleasant surprises.