Bass Transcription: Fleetwood Mac – ‘Go Your Own Way’

Fleetwood Mac’s insanely popular Rumours (1977) was the album that everyone had (and still has) in their vinyl collection; estimated sales figures are somewhere between 30-40 million copies. Not too shabby. ‘Go Your Own Way’ appeared on a set list for a gig this month and, given that January is traditionally a very dry month for gigs, I thought I’d give it the proper note-for-note treatment. This was made much easier by tracking down John McVie’s isolated bass part, which explains why the transcription goes beyond the fade-out ending of the track.

Fleetwood Mac – ‘Go Your Own Way’ bass transcription PDF

The sound of the bass on the track is HUGE; John’s unrelenting 8th-notes provide a firm foundation for the verse section (the syncopated acoustic guitar strumming pattern is included at the end of the chart), but the main attraction for us is the chorus bassline. Here, the bass uses diatonic scale tones to provide a melodic sub-hook while still outlining the harmony: notice how McVie uses the same descending pattern to point to the C major and D minor chords, beginning his run from the 5th of each chord on the and of beat 2 in the preceding bar in order to achieve the satisfying resolution into the root on beat 1. Pay attention to the articulation here, as the slides and pull-offs help to add a more ‘vocal’ quality to the part, increasing the melodic appeal of the line.

Although you could play the almost the entire line within the first 3 frets of the bass, I find that shifting up the D-string provides a better approximation of the sound on the original track.

During the extended outro guitar solo section, the bassline evolves to include a series of chromatic passing notes which add variety and give the part a bit of much-needed tension.