A behind-the-scenes look at the low-end legend's career and the making of his latest solo album.


Nathan East: For the Record
Yamaha Entertainment Group

The story of bassist Nathan East is in some ways similar to that of Sound City Studios. When you consider the sheer amount of successful music that has passed through these institutions, it’s hard to believe that any other bassist (or studio) had enough work to stay afloat.

Nathan East: For the Record documents East’s profound career while providing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of his recent self-titled solo album. Between sound bites from Eric Clapton, Lionel Richie, Vince Gill, and others, East tells his story in his own words, from his early days playing with his brothers in church to helping craft classic hits with Phil Collins and his breakthrough performance at Live Aid with Kenny Loggins. One particularly poignant scene captures Nathan’s son Noah playing an arrangement of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” while his dad accompanies him on upright. Each song has a story, artfully told by Nathan and his collaborators. From showing a Nashville string section recording session to capturing one of the last performances of the late drummer Ricky Lawson, For the Record is one of the better music documentaries of the year, and a long-overdue look at one of the great musicians of our time.

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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