Happy Birthday Joe Lally from Fugazi!

joelallyThe bass player seldom gets the respect he or she deserves. If they do, it’s usually a Paul McCartney or Sting situation where they’re getting respect for writing the song rather than playing bass on it. You have to be pretty amazing (Entwistle, Flea, Geddy Lee, Phil Lesh etc) to be noteworthy as a bass player. In fact, bassists are frequently overshadowed by their flashier bandmates.

Fugazi isn’t (or wasn’t. Very difficult to tell these days) a super-popular band, they certainly have their devoted and cultish fan base. At a Fugazi show, bass player Joe Lally (who turns 53 this week) is content to hang in the background while singers Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto engage in the theatrics. I feel like that’s what birthdays are about, really. Let’s bring someone to the forefront for just one day, for just long enough to make them feel uncomfortable, and then send them back where they came from at day’s end. Throughout Fugazi’s career, Lally has been integral to their sound, which spans genres. Fugazi is a completely unique entity, incorporating elements of punk, hardcore, art-rock, funk, reggae and others in to an intoxicating soup. While MacKaye and Picciotto take care of the high end, it’s up to Lally and drummer Brendan Canty to handle the rhythm section. Spoiler alert: they absolutely succeed. This versatile duo has carried the group through countless time signature and style changes, and let’s raise a glass to Lally in particular on this, the week of his birth. Here’s Lally on “Waiting Room,” which is both Fugazi’s best known song and  an excellent showcase for bass work. Enjoy. Joe, if you’re somehow reading this, maybe it’s time to get the guys back together and tour the Midwest, huh?

It’s worth a shot.

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Photo credit: By Cássio Abreu from Bauru / Campinas / São Paulo, Brasil (joe lally) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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