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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    12.14.17 @ 10:37 AM
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    Default 50 Bass Songs to Play

    Just curious everyone's thoughts.

    Trying to improve my bass playing as my playing really is the weak link in my little band, and I found this guys list and thought it was interesting.

    I am not a scale and exercises guy, I like learning by playing songs, so this caught my attention.

    Kind of long, but for bass players it makes an interesting read. I already paly a lot of the songs listed, but after about 30 I doubt I could play most of those as of now without a LOT of practice.

    Here it is:


    [I]If you've come to this website there's an excellent chance you want to learn how to play bass guitar. What most tutors - and this includes the majority of books and articles written on the subject - seem to forget is that the average person who wants to learn how to play bass guitar usually does so for one, or both, of the following reasons:-

    1)To emulate a famous bass player

    2)To play in a band with their friends

    Most of the tuitional material for beginning bass guitarists is pretty uninspirational - you have to wade through a ton of theoretical crap before you get to do the thing you picked up the bass to do - play some tunes! Musical theory has its place of course - if you aspire to any level as a musician you've got to know your instrument, scales, harmony, chord theory etc etc. But give a guy a break! When you're first starting out, you just wanna play some tunes.

    Here's my driving analogy - when you have your first driving lesson the instructor doesn't pop the bonnet (hood if you've browsed here from Stateside) and show you the parts of the engine and explain how they interract to produce the energy that powers the car. Later on - when you can drive - if you want to learn how the motor works and get your hands dirty you can. Most of us don't ever bother - we're content just to cruise along.

    And it's probably the same for prospective bass players.We just wanna play the damn tune!

    HOW THIS APPROACH TO LEARNING HOW TO PLAY BASS GUITAR HAPPENED

    This approach was a happy accident of three ideas meeting at the same time.

    Idea 1) I'm buying my eldest son a bass guitar for his 5th birthday and was thinking about what I would actually teach him. Being 5, his boredom threshold is going to be low so I've got to teach him in short spells and teach him things that he will enjoy and keep him interested - ie tunes, not scales!

    He loves listening to music and already has an appreciation of different styles: current favourites The Feeling, Queen and Lily Allen, but not averse to hearing some Muse and Rush!

    Idea 2) A son of a friend had just started to play bass and was looking for a teacher. Let's call him Tait - after all that's his name! Tait gave me a call and I asked him a question: "What are you playing the bass for - what are you trying to achieve?"

    Tait's answer: "I want to play in a band with my friends."

    When asked what kind of tunes they are going to play he mentioned bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Linkin Park and Muse. Eventually I get some some specific song titles from him - all Muse tunes - HYSTERIA, STOCKHOLM SYNDROME and TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

    At this point I knew of Muse, but wasn't really familiar with their material. I got hold of ABSOLUTION and gave it a listen. I loved some of the stuff but realised that songs like HYSTERIA and STOCKHOLM SYNDROME were not for the faint hearted! (i.e. beginners!).

    Idea 3) The final piece of the puzzle fell into place whilst doing some research into Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP is a method of personal development and one of the models of advancement that really resonated for me was the idea of setting an attainable goal and progressing towards it in steady, measured steps.How to Play Bass Guitar in 50 songs was born - a great way for bass beginners to start playing some tunes and improve their proficiency at the same time!

    THE 50 SONGS APPROACH

    Here are the 50 songs plus a bit of annotation.

    1) YELLOW by Coldplay. Here's a nice simple line to get started with.

    2) WITH OR WITHOUT YOU by U2. One of my favourite U2 songs - simple bass line too, four chords, root notes in a steady 8th note pulse.

    3) EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE by The Police. The first of three Sting basslines. This one's mainly root notes, mainly 8th notes.

    4)ROXANNE by The Police. A nice example of the Police's early mix of reggae and rock (see also 'So Lonely').

    5) MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE by The Police. Another great Sting line, he's not a virtuoso but he plays memorable bass lines.

    6) ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST by Queen. One of the most recognisable basslines in bassdom, played by one of its most underrated players - John Deacon (crap claim to fame: I went to the same school as John Deacon!).

    7) ADDICTED TO LOVE by Robert Palmer Interesting 80s rock bassline - learn to rock without the root note on the downbeat. Oh and great video too! (if a bit sexist)

    8) DAYTRIPPER by The Beatles The Beatles wrote great tunes, Paul McCartney played great basslines. this riff based tune can be played much heavier than the Beatles original.

    9) NEW YEARS DAY by U2 A simple Adam Clayton line, 8th notes all the way.

    10) LIGHT MY FIRE by The Doors. Nice 8th note bassline with lots of major and minor triads.

    11) MONEY FOR NOTHING by Dire Straits. I've got a feeling Sting might have played the bassline on this, it's a nice 8th note riff kind of song.

    12) SATISFACTION by The Rolling Stones Simple yet effective Bill Wyman 8th note line on classic 60s rock track.

    13) KEEP ON RUNNING by Spencer Davies Group. A great track featuring Muff Winwood's iconic driving bassline, the whole tune was reportedly written in less than 10 minutes once he'd come up with the bassline.

    14) YOU CAN DRIVE MY CAR by The Beatles More McCartney 8th notes from his transtional mid sixties period.

    15) LIVING ON A PRAYER by Bon Jovi 80s stadium rock, Bon Jovi style so big hair and lots of 8th notes!

    16) YOU REALLY GOT ME by The Kinks Another typical 60s style rock line

    17) SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE by Cream. Learn an iconic bass riff and the blues scale in a single two bar measure! Jack Bruce with Cream, 'nuff said!

    18) BROWN SUGAR by The Rolling Stones Another Stones classic, another Bill Wyman bass line - simple but effective.

    19) BET THAT YOU LOOK GOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR by Arctic Monkeys Great contemporary tune, a good one for the rock jam repertoire.

    20) I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE by The Darkness Straightforward riff based rock tune.

    21) YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME by Bon Jovi More Bon Jovi, more 8th note rock.

    22) COME AS YOU ARE by Nirvana Some seattle grunge - 8th note style!

    23) I SAW HER STANDING THERE by The Beatles Another McCartney line, this one's a good right hand workout, lots of 8th notes at a brisk tempo (approx 160 BPM).

    24) ARE YOU GONNA GO MY WAY by Lenny Kravitz I always enjoy gigging this tune, it's got a cool basic groove plus some rhythmic embellishments and a guitar solo sections that's great for drums and bass to play (especially if the drummer's got a double bass pedal!).

    25) CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE by Queen. Another John Deacon bassline to another Queen classic - this one introduces the shuffle feel.

    26) SWEET HOME CHICAGO by Blues Brother. Not strictly a rock tune but a 12 bar blues featuring Duck Dunn swinging his butt off (the extended film soundtrack version has got some nice upper register work too!).

    27) ALL MY LOVING by The Beatles. Another McCartney line, this time a lesson in how to walk through a pop tune. See also 29 below.

    28) SPIRIT IN THE SKY by Norm Greenbaum A popular tune, nice shuffle bassline.

    29) EIGHT DAYS A WEEK by The Beatles. See 27 above!

    30) METAL GURU by T Rex An underrated band whose time was tragically cut short, this tune is a great example of a mid tempo rock shuffle.

    31) TOWN CALLED MALICE by The Jam If you've subscribed to my Ezine you'll already know I love this tune as it's one of the tunes analysed and given away as a freebie! (if you haven't subscribed, what are you waiting for? The sign up box is in the top right hand corner of this page!)

    32) RUNNING FREE by IRON MAIDEN. A heavy shuffle this time, one of the first Maiden classics.

    33) MY GENERATION by The Who A classic bassline from The OX (Jon Entwistle). Features include his great bass solo plus playing straight 8ths over the shuffle rhythm.

    34) HEY JOE by Jimi Hendrix. Hey Joe is a rock jam standard - Noel Redding's bass line introduces students to playing 16th notes at a reasonable tempo!

    35) TIME IS RUNNING OUT by Muse The first of three basslines by Chris Wolstenhome (and my favourite Muse track).

    36) PURPLE HAZE by Jimi Hendrix Another jamming standard, great tune, great line.

    37) SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY by U2 I've got a soft spot for this one, it's one of the first tunes I gigged regularly back in the day ("Le Pub" in the ski resort of Meribel with a french guitarist/vocalist called Christophe Magnon) - it's not particularly complex but is another good intro to 16th notes.

    38) PINBALL WIZARD by The Who Another great tune by the Who, another great performance by The Ox.

    39) CALIFORNICATION by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers - First of three bass lines from Flea, the cool line to Californication features some melodic upper register playing as well as some more typical lower register rocking 16th notes. A personal fave!
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

    David Lee Roth did the impossible. He made Van Halen better. Deal with it!

    Preferred pronouns: he/him/his

    Hurricane Halen - Let's all gingery touch our sword tips!!!

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  2. #2
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    40) HARD TO HANDLE by The Black Crowes The original (Otis Redding) was a great track, this version is OK but is a nice feature for a rocking 16th note bass line.

    41) YOU OUGHTA KNOW by Alanis Morisette You wait 40 odd songs for a Flea bass line to come along and then like buses here come's another. Great song, great bass line, loads of 16th notes, ghost notes and tasty fills to feast on.

    42) SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT by Nirvana Some more Seattle style grunge

    43) CROSSROADS by Cream. My favourite Jack Bruce track with Cream (his favourite is Politician which shows you how much I know!) A masterclass in the blues, rock style.

    44) AEROPLANE by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers And here's another barrage from Flea's furious fingers!

    45) SMOOTH CRIMINAL by Alien Ant Farm I had to gig this a few times about five years ago - great version of a classic MJ song, great bassline, great exercise in 16th notes.

    46) ANTHEM by Rush Geddy Lee was probably more responsible than anyone for me picking up a bass guitar in the first place. By Rush standards this is a fairly conventional tune, but you gotta love what Geddy plays under the guitar solo. Class with a capital C!

    47) HIT ME WITH YOUR RHYTHM STICK by Ian Drury and the Blockheads This is an unusual song choice - it's not a rock tune in the classic sense, but it's got a restless punky energy to it - and a killer bassline!

    48) NUMBER OF THE BEAST by Iron Maiden Another one from Steve Harris - another bass player highly underrated IMO. This song's got everything you'd expect in a Maiden song - high register intro work, tons of 16th note moshes and gallops, some tricky unison lines and even some odd time signature! Great workout.

    49) HYSTERIA by Muse The song that started an empire (erm, well, actually a web page). One of Chris Wolstenholme's finest, another great workout.

    50) STOCKHOLM SYNDROME by Muse Same as HYSTERIA. When you've finished the course and learnt all of these tunes you'll have a thorough grounding in the rock idiom and be on the cusp of progressing from a beginner to an intermediate level bass player! [/I]
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

    David Lee Roth did the impossible. He made Van Halen better. Deal with it!

    Preferred pronouns: he/him/his

    Hurricane Halen - Let's all gingery touch our sword tips!!!

    DONATE TO THE LINKS YA CHEAP BASTARDS!!!!

  3. #3
    Hot sauce on everything Red's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave's Dreidel View Post
    48) NUMBER OF THE BEAST by Iron Maiden Another one from Steve Harris - another bass player highly underrated IMO.
    Underrated? Ha!

    This dude's obviously messed up, Steve Harris is the shit!

  4. #4
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    I agree, though somewhere else on this board someone posted they feel he is overrated and only does three finger gallops.

    I strongly disagree, his playing and writing in their "classic" run of albums is beyond compare in my humble opinion.

    Number of the Beast through Seventh Son, man what a run of albums.
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

    David Lee Roth did the impossible. He made Van Halen better. Deal with it!

    Preferred pronouns: he/him/his

    Hurricane Halen - Let's all gingery touch our sword tips!!!

    DONATE TO THE LINKS YA CHEAP BASTARDS!!!!

  5. #5
    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    Ya know Dave, for me the best way to expand abilities on the bass is to simply play along to music that you are not really familiar with, like jazz or country. You find yourself using notes or phrases that you normally would not, but in time signatures that more often than not can be applied to regular rock music.

    For instance, if you play along to an early Beatles or Stones album (hell even the first three Zeppelin albums), you really will not find yourself all that challenged. You'll merely be repeating many of the same structures or chords, as most of that music was rock and roll based in the blues. This is OK if all you wish to do is play a bunch of three chord tunes, as you can fill several set lists with that stuff.

    But by practicing stuff a tad beyond that rather narrow scope, you will vastly improve your playing. You'll find alternate means of getting your point across, yet at the same time keeping the tune moving along. After all, it's no different than learning a language. The broader your vocabulary, the more ways of expressing yourself are open to you.

    While many of the tunes on that list are fun to play, only a handful (like the Ian Drury tune) really teach you all that much, outside of playing a few simple figures. My point is, wouldn't it be a better to work toward creating your own figures and approaches?

    It's your call, of course. Just thought I'd give you an idea to the way I deal with practice and exercises.
    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
    George Bernard Shaw

  6. #6
    Atomic Punk
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    I like the concept of creating a list of songs that, by mastering, would basically teach you how to play an instrument. I just don't think this particular list does much to dig deep into the instrument. I would definitely have a bunch of these songs on my list of 50 bass tunes but I would try to stretch a bit beyond the 3 chord rock that most of the list works on. I would dig through some jazz and bebop as well as some country and I would try to arrange the songs in some sort of order of difficulty so that as you get further in the list the songs get a bit more difficult and build upon skills developed in earlier songs.

    As it stands, I think this list certainly gets someone ready to hang out in the garage, throw some burgers on the grill and have a good time but I think as a tool to teach bass, it does leave a bit to be desired.

    Great great concept though. Perhaps we could all brainstorm on creating an even better list!
    Stay out of it, dude.


    I am Van Halen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chefcraig View Post
    Ya know Dave, for me the best way to expand abilities on the bass is to simply play along to music that you are not really familiar with, like jazz or country. You find yourself using notes or phrases that you normally would not, but in time signatures that more often than not can be applied to regular rock music.

    For instance, if you play along to an early Beatles or Stones album (hell even the first three Zeppelin albums), you really will not find yourself all that challenged. You'll merely be repeating many of the same structures or chords, as most of that music was rock and roll based in the blues. This is OK if all you wish to do is play a bunch of three chord tunes, as you can fill several set lists with that stuff.

    But by practicing stuff a tad beyond that rather narrow scope, you will vastly improve your playing. You'll find alternate means of getting your point across, yet at the same time keeping the tune moving along. After all, it's no different than learning a language. The broader your vocabulary, the more ways of expressing yourself are open to you.

    While many of the tunes on that list are fun to play, only a handful (like the Ian Drury tune) really teach you all that much, outside of playing a few simple figures. My point is, wouldn't it be a better to work toward creating your own figures and approaches?

    It's your call, of course. Just thought I'd give you an idea to the way I deal with practice and exercises.
    Quote Originally Posted by broken9500 View Post
    I like the concept of creating a list of songs that, by mastering, would basically teach you how to play an instrument. I just don't think this particular list does much to dig deep into the instrument. I would definitely have a bunch of these songs on my list of 50 bass tunes but I would try to stretch a bit beyond the 3 chord rock that most of the list works on. I would dig through some jazz and bebop as well as some country and I would try to arrange the songs in some sort of order of difficulty so that as you get further in the list the songs get a bit more difficult and build upon skills developed in earlier songs.

    As it stands, I think this list certainly gets someone ready to hang out in the garage, throw some burgers on the grill and have a good time but I think as a tool to teach bass, it does leave a bit to be desired.

    Great great concept though. Perhaps we could all brainstorm on creating an even better list!
    I think there's kind of an echo in here.
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  8. #8
    Atomic Punk sixstring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by broken9500 View Post
    I like the concept of creating a list of songs that, by mastering, would basically teach you how to play an instrument. I just don't think this particular list does much to dig deep into the instrument. I would definitely have a bunch of these songs on my list of 50 bass tunes but I would try to stretch a bit beyond the 3 chord rock that most of the list works on. I would dig through some jazz and bebop as well as some country and I would try to arrange the songs in some sort of order of difficulty so that as you get further in the list the songs get a bit more difficult and build upon skills developed in earlier songs.

    As it stands, I think this list certainly gets someone ready to hang out in the garage, throw some burgers on the grill and have a good time but I think as a tool to teach bass, it does leave a bit to be desired.

    Great great concept though. Perhaps we could all brainstorm on creating an even better list!
    Two places to start if you already have the basics down would be the discographies of King's X and Sting / The Police. It's all there.

    'Nuff said.

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  9. #9
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefcraig View Post
    Ya know Dave, for me the best way to expand abilities on the bass is to simply play along to music that you are not really familiar with, like jazz or country. You find yourself using notes or phrases that you normally would not, but in time signatures that more often than not can be applied to regular rock music.
    What you are saying resonates, because even a neophyte on the bass like myself notices the same 1,4,5 structure of most bass lines.

    For example, Sweetleaf by Sabbath and Small Town by Mellencamp are very similar riffs, and most bass lines are not that original. I will concur on one bassist that he mentions that most have not heard of is the guy from Muse. He writes some cool lines.

    And Dear Lord, early eighties metal? Can I have a side of eighth notes to go with my platter of eighth notes please? I sometimes wonder is the bass players job in an early 80's metal band was to bang his left hand in a fist to try and pump the crowd up, because most everything is open E eighth notes!
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

    David Lee Roth did the impossible. He made Van Halen better. Deal with it!

    Preferred pronouns: he/him/his

    Hurricane Halen - Let's all gingery touch our sword tips!!!

    DONATE TO THE LINKS YA CHEAP BASTARDS!!!!

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    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    Jazz songs to play anyone?

    Remember, I have been playing bass less than a year. Been playing music for over twenty five years, so I think I am farther along than most would be, but I am still a beginner. Billy Sheehan I am not.
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

    David Lee Roth did the impossible. He made Van Halen better. Deal with it!

    Preferred pronouns: he/him/his

    Hurricane Halen - Let's all gingery touch our sword tips!!!

    DONATE TO THE LINKS YA CHEAP BASTARDS!!!!

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    Default James Jamerson

    Something I've really enjoyed is the book "Standing In The Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson." The book has twenty plus partial or full transcriptions of his outstanding basslines on numerous Motown hits and the accompanying CDs have a host of famous rock/jazz/country/studio guys playing them. Check it out.
    "With me in the band, it's one of those miraculous 97-97 deals. It's 97 percent you and 97 percent moi. Is it Mick or Keith? I don't know" -DLR

    "We eventually started playing clubs, and we also did weddings. We played everything from the Ohio Players to K.C. & the Sunshine Band. You would love the sight of Van Halen doing 'Get Down Tonight'! But by the third set when everybody was good and tanked up--boy, we'd be blazin'!" -Michael Anthony

  12. #12
    Hot sauce on everything Red's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave's Dreidel View Post
    I agree, though somewhere else on this board someone posted they feel he is overrated and only does three finger gallops.
    What a tool that person is.

    Just having a little fun, I about fell over when I saw Steve Harris and underrated in the same sentence. I'm not sure if I've ever heard Steve described as underrated.

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    "The less I needed, the better I felt." ~ Charles Bukowski.

  14. #14
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    12.14.17 @ 10:37 AM
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    Yeah, my slapping skills are about zero!
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

    David Lee Roth did the impossible. He made Van Halen better. Deal with it!

    Preferred pronouns: he/him/his

    Hurricane Halen - Let's all gingery touch our sword tips!!!

    DONATE TO THE LINKS YA CHEAP BASTARDS!!!!

  15. #15
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    Favorite VH Album

    Alex, Dave, Ed and Mike
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    The songs with Ed on them
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    12.14.17 @ 10:37 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldno.7 View Post
    Something I've really enjoyed is the book "Standing In The Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson." The book has twenty plus partial or full transcriptions of his outstanding basslines on numerous Motown hits and the accompanying CDs have a host of famous rock/jazz/country/studio guys playing them. Check it out.
    Thanks, I am going to check that out.
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

    David Lee Roth did the impossible. He made Van Halen better. Deal with it!

    Preferred pronouns: he/him/his

    Hurricane Halen - Let's all gingery touch our sword tips!!!

    DONATE TO THE LINKS YA CHEAP BASTARDS!!!!

 

 

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