If there were a Pocket Field Guide to Dating Musicians, it would read like this:
This species can best be viewed in its natural habitat, under the colored lights of nightclub stages — and in the drier months, anywhere there’s free beer.
At the front stands the lead singer, scientific name Egos maximus, a close relative of the peacock. Don’t look him directly in the eye; he views this as a mating call and will rip his ironic T-shirt right off and begin caressing the mike suggestively if he thinks you’re the slightest bit interested.
To his left is the guitarist, Controli freakata, recognized in the wild by his rock-and-roll power stance, practiced indifference, and telltale markings: pants several sizes too small and bits of twine, locks of hair, and other strands of refuse wound round his wrist as boho jewelry. Beware: He is prone to depression; it’s when he writes “his best stuff.”
And making all that racket at the back, on the riser, is the grinning drummer, Rhythm perspiratious, descended more recently than the rest of us from apes. This good-time boy is a competent multitasker but frequently shamed by his bandmates for not knowing scales. Feeding habits: Large meat sandwiches that he stores in the bass drum and gnaws on between songs.
Then there’s the keyboard player, who … Wait, no. This isn’t 1985. There is no keyboard player.
But hark. What is that intriguing breed on the right? The one standing in the shadows with the quiet intensity and the booming, low-slung bass? That, my boyfriend-shopping adventurers, is the extraordinary Fella perfectata from the family Delicieux. His coat is less showy than the others’, so he often goes unnoticed. Yet he’s always there when you need him, steadily, deftly weaving the band’s rhythm and melody into an impenetrable humming-thumping-humming-thumping musical fabric that—scientifically speaking—you just want to wrap yourself up in. Naked.
Listen, I’ve dated a lot of musicians. And if you’re looking for a band member who can make your soul wail a power ballad, there’s no better choice than a bass player. (This commentary is about men because that’s how I roll, but Kim Gordon, Sheryl Crow, Aimee Mann, Suzi Quatro, Kim Deal, Meshell Ndegeocello: respect.)
Here’s why the bass player is the best rocker to pluck your strings:
• What’s sexier than a man who doesn’t need to be the center of attention — who’s content to sit back and hold a thing together from the bottom up? That sort of hang-backedness speaks to a deep-rooted confidence, an honorable work ethic even, that can only be described as hotness amplified.
• There’s something to be said about an instrument that makes your whole howdy-do rumble. And that something is this: “Yes, please.”
• Bass players are classy. Think McCartney and Sting—not Flea, who’s a drummer in bass players’ clothing (which apparently is a tube sock). The very fact that you don’t know who played bass for most of the great American bands is testament to the bass player’s humility. And if modesty doesn’t sound sexy, then wake up just once next to a lead singer — go on, I dare you — and see how quickly “unassuming” becomes music to your ears.
• Bass players don’t care if you notice this, but theirs is the manliest instrument in a rock band. It’s the biggest and heaviest. And the strings are rope-thick, which gives bass players strong fingers, and we’ll just leave that right there.
To be clear, no one is suggesting you date a musician. They keep odd hours, are hard of hearing, and believe that actual income-generating work harshes their carefully cultivated mellow. Plus you’ll be expected to do a lot of stage-side swaying and swooning as though you hadn’t heard that exact song played that exact way 17 kajillion times before.
But if your inner groupie simply won’t be stifled, don’t fret. Just snag yourself a four-stringed fella. And keep some earplugs handy.