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I love the Internet as an engine of serendipty. Earlier this week, following a conversation about potatoes (inspired because I had been bookmarking seed potatoes on Delicious) a friend commented that he was trying to master the bass introduction to Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain. I knew the song, because I’d heard my friend, Pamela Fay, perform it a few times at various folk clubs when we were both living in London but I was not familiar with the Carly Simon recording.

Another thing the Internet makes easier is finding music samples. I used Spotify and listened a few times to Klaus Voormann’s rolling, rumbling beginning for the piece. Something the web is not always so great at is providing reliable information and my attempts to find an aid to understanding it led in what I think was the wrong direction. There is plenty of advice and most of it is wrong!

However, sitting down with a bass, and combining the clues I had found with listening and playing, led me to what I think is the way to play it. On a bass in standard tuning, all strings are fretted with a barre at the fifth fret. The thumb plays the low A and a finger (I used my middle finger) rakes back across the other strings (C G D). The sequence is A C G D A C G D A and the rhythm is e 16t 16t 16t e 16t 16t 16t e followed by a rest to the end of the bar (e = quaver and 16t = triplet semiquaver).

Am I right or just contributing another false clue to the Internet? Comments welcome but it sounds right to me. It was refreshing to take up a “figuring out a bassline” challenge and to quickly find something I was confident in as, overall, my transcription chops are rusty. What I am looking forward to now is the next burst of serendipity, giving me an opportunity to apply the overall technique in another playing situation, even if not for an intro or with the same notes.


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