‘Fernando’ is not only one of ABBA’s biggest selling singles, it’s one of the top forty biggest selling singles of all time, shifting 6 million copies in the first year alone. Not too shabby.
Taken from ABBA’s Greatest Hits album (also included on the CD reissue of Arrival), ‘Fernando’ is possibly the most commercially successful song written about the Mexican revolution of 1910. In fact, if anyone can name any other song on the same historical event then email me, you’ll win a prize.
If you’re still of the opinion that ABBA’s music is lightweight Europop nonsense with no redeeming features (as I did for almost 25 years) then take a closer look at Rutger Gunnarsson’s expertly crafted bass line on ‘Fernando’.
The bass part is certainly unconventional; palm muted arpeggios state the harmony at the start of each verse, starting in conventional bass territory then leaping to the upper reaches of the fretboard. It’s not often that you get a legitimate opportunity to play the high D on the G string without someone else in the band giving you a dirty look, so embrace it.
Palm muting is an extremely useful technique that doesn’t get a lot of press in bass magazines and doesn’t yield millions of YouTube views. Definitely not as impressive as 8-finger tapping, but much more useful as a tasteful way of altering your articulation – if you’re new to the dark art of palm muting be aware that it will take some time to develop any sort of facility, as your hand is now operating in a completely different way to conventional fingerstyle playing.
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