In addition to their much-lauded work with Chic and Sister Sledge, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards had extensive writing and production credits for other artists, lending their knowledge of groove to otherwise potentially un-funky artists including Duran Duran, Joe Cocker, ABC, Rod Stewart and Robert Palmer. The duo was also at the helm for Diana Ross’ 10th solo album, creatively titled Diana, which would become the most commercially successful record of her solo career and spawned the hits ‘Upside Down’ and ‘I’m Coming Out’.
Inspired by Rodgers witnessing a number of drag queens dressed as Diana Ross, ‘I’m Coming Out’ also held lyrical significance for Ross as the album was her last release for Motown and she was leaving the control of Berry Gordy’s label.
Beginning with an extended intro before the chorus kicks in, the feature of the song’s first 32 bars is the horn line, which has been included on the transcription in treble clef – be prepared to pull this out on a gig if your band doesn’t have a horn section and you don’t want to be standing around doing nothing for 45 seconds.
The verse and chorus sections are classic Bernard Edwards, featuring syncopated grooves adorned with ghost notes and hammer-ons, all played with his trademark punchy fingerstyle sound. Things change direction in the prechorus with the introduction of a percussive semiquaver bass part that sounds distinctly like it was played with a pick, a la Bobby Vega or Anthony Jackson, but further research on Bernard reveals that he used a technique that he called ‘chucking’, where he used his fingernails in place of a plectrum.
This can be heard on several of Bernard’s lines, including Chic’s ‘Everybody Dance’ – you can see him using this technique in the video below during the intro and again at the 3 minute mark: