Bass Line #7: Duran Duran – New Moon on Monday

We don’t get too many of these a year, so indulge me, will you?  Today is New Moon on Monday, and one that happens to be in the zodiac sign we’re in now, Cancer, an additional bonus.

One of the fun things that has happened during the coronavirus pandemic is Duran Duran bassist John Taylor taking to Instagram to record a series of bass-playing tutorials called “John Taylor’s Stone Love Bass Odyssey” on Wednesdays.  They took place in conjunction with conversations of some of his famous friends, including bandmate and drummer Roger Taylor and past Duran album producers Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson.  You can check out the whole series of tutorials on Duran Duran’s YouTube channel through here.

As big of a Duranie that I am, you will not find me trying to play what has become John’s bass-playing opus, ‘Rio’.  I think it’s safe to say that among Duranies and the whole bass-playing community, it’s known as the most difficult bass line of the Duran Duran back catalogue.  If you’re skeptical, watch him playing it starting here.  I haven’t bothered to try and learn it.  I’m decent on bass, and I’m not that good.  My hands are too small, and they don’t move very fast (ha). 

No, today I want to focus on the song that was simply meant for today, ‘New Moon on Monday’.  Part of the sheer 1984-era excess that was ‘Seven and the Ragged Tiger’, it’s hands-down my favorite track of this album.  In its 5-minute music video form, it’s perfect.  Simon Le Bon is deep in his usual esoteric lyrics – “shake up the picture, the lizard mixture”, anyone? – and delivers a grand chorus for all of us to sing along to: “I light my torch and wave it for the / New Moon on Monday”.  He gets to use his acting chops here as well.

Confusing promo video storyline aside, John’s bass line is great because of its understated elegance.  It’s funky, yet doesn’t take over the song.  We should have guessed that something even funkier, ‘Notorious’ (bass cover here), was coming down the pike.  Watch below as Dave of zumazmusic moves down the fretboard effortlessly in the chorus (and on a genuine Aria, no less!) in the cover demonstration video.  C’est magnifique.

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