Bass Transcription: Foo Fighters – Best Of You

Taken from the band’s 5th studio album, the double disc In Your Honor (2005), ‘Best Of You’ gave the Foo Fighters a stadium-size anthem to match the growth of their popularity. Building on the success of previous breakthrough records There Is Nothing Left To Lose (1999) and One By One (2002), In Your Honor topped the charts in five countries and earned the Foos 5 Grammy nominations, while ‘Best Of You’ was the band’s highest charting release and remains their only single to have gone Platinum in the US.

I remember reading an interview with Dave Grohl about the band’s recording process, in which he revealed the extent to which he has to ‘creatively edit’ bassist Nate Mendel’s parts, stating that Nate’s initial concepts for basslines are apparently akin to some of ‘the craziest Jaco Pastorius sh*t you’ve ever heard’ and that Dave and Co. have to rein in the bassist’s melodic tendencies until they have something that serves the song.

At first glance, the transcription doesn’t show a great deal of anything particularly Jaco-esque – there is, however, some very subtle high register bass playing during the second half of the intro (so subtle, in fact, that I missed it entirely when I first transcribed the song!); notice how Nate plays the 3rd of the B major chord to create a first inversion major triad sound, which creates a smooth melodic line between the chords (moving C# – D# – E, rather than C# – B – E).

Shifting our attention to the verse, we see that Nate’s bass line features a repeated melodic figure that alternates between ascending and descending phrases with each new chord – much more interesting for the listener than sticking with one direction. There’s also a neat rhythmic trick within the verse part, accenting the quavers as groupings of 3 + 3 + 2 rather than more conventional even groupings of 2 or 4 (this is a common device in pop and rock, Coldplay’s ‘Clocks’ is a particularly popular example).

During the chorus, things are strictly root note orientated but things shift gears during the guitar solo, which features a number of unison rhythmic hits between the bass, drums and rhythm guitar. Dave Grohl obviously let Nate off the leash for the last chorus, which has some fills over each Bsus chord and there’s a sneaky triplet flourish that doubles the drum fill in the penultimate bar of the song.

Foo Fighters – Best Of You bass transcription pdf