Bass Transcription: Green Day – Warning

The title track and second single from Green Day’s sixth studio album (2000’s Warning) gave the band chart success on both sides of the Atlantic. Before we get into an analysis of the bass transcription, have a listen to cult British band The Kinks’ 1968 B-side ‘Picture Book’:

Now take another listen to our Californian friends’ hit:

Sounds rather similar, right? In fact it’s an almost note-for-note lift. But it turns out that this isn’t the only occasion when Green Day have ‘borrowed’ from other artists – in 2004 Noel Gallagher complained vociferously about the fact that ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’ sounded very much like Oasis’ signature song ‘Wonderwall’. In the author’s opinion Mr. Gallagher shouldn’t really be pointing fingers, given that Oasis stole tons of stuff from the Beatles, who stole loads of stuff from Chuck Berry, who… well, you get the idea.

Green Day also got in trouble with punk band Dillinger Four for appropriating the riff from ‘Doublewhiskeycokenoice’ for ‘American Idiot’. Dillinger Four went as far as suing Green Day, who opted for an out of court settlement:

Let’s leave plagiarism and get to the bass transcription of ‘Warning’. The song revolves around a repeated bass line played in constant quavers that outlines the song’s chord progression using two root notes followed by two scalar passing tones that link to the root note of the next chord.

If we look at the line as a whole, we’re using the notes of D major, but the A chord feels like ‘home’ – theory nerds will quickly note that this means we’re actually using the A mixolydian mode. If the thought of modes makes you uncomfortable (which it does for many people), then it can be helpful to analyse the mixolydian mode in these two ways:

  • The mixolydian mode is derived by playing a major scale from its 5th Since we’re in the key of D major, here’s how we arrive at this particular mode:

  • You can also analyse the mixolydian mode as a major scale with a flattened 7th:

Still baffled by modes? I’ve found that Mick Goodrick’s amazing book ‘The Advancing Guitarist’ is incredibly helpful in removing the mystery from the modes (be warned though, this book is not for the faint hearted, but it is life changing).

Green Day – Warning bass transcription pdf