Stalking the Elusive Bass Line

Donny, Sue, and Craig

How Listening Opened my Eyes

“So Donny,” I said one Sunday in the fellowship hall, as he stood beside me contemplating the plates of cookies and banana bread set out for our post-worship refreshment, “I heard this song on The Fish yesterday that had this really awesome bass line in the bridge.”


“Yup. Problem is, I can’t for the life of me remember its name. But when I hear it again, I’ll make a note and tell you.”


Donny is the kind of young man we all want to know. He’s smart, he’s talented, he’s funny. He comes from a close-knit, godly family. He’s courteous from deep inside, helpful, and kind.

And he plays a wicked bass guitar.

Back in the day, I played standup bass. So I know that sometimes–okay, almost always–the bass line is not the flashy part of the song. It adds needed foundation and rhythm, yes. But the truth is, bass lines can be boring. This song featured an awesome bass line. It had an Andy Rourke-esque lilt. You could even describe it as a riff.

I really wanted to hear the song again, so I could tell Donny its name. Every time I got into my truck, which doubles as an FM radio listening booth, I tuned to The Fish and waited to hear The Song.

I listened for weeks. And weeks.

I never heard it.

While I was listening for it, though, I noticed something. When I really devoted myself to listening only to the bass line, it’s all I heard. While I listened to Chris August and Jeremy Camp and MercyMe, I wasn’t hearing the vocals. I wasn’t hearing the horns, or the Gospel choir on backup, or that beautiful little cello solo.

It was challenging, at times, to tune my ear for those deep notes. Sometimes I found myself distracted, wondering why that woman in the car next to me looked sad. Sometimes my mind drifted back to a conversation I’d had in the office, or forward to what I’d cook for our dinner once I arrived home. Sometimes I sang along with the song. I can’t listen and sing at the same time.

I can’t listen and think at the same time. Oh, but how I try! My husband is talking to me and I’m thinking about what to do next, instead of hearing the fatigue in his voice. In a meeting, I’m jotting notes, considering what I need to convey the next time I speak–and I miss the nuance of my coworker’s comment.

When I focus on seeking just one thing, everything else fades in the background. I want to listen to my husband, our kids, my coworkers like I listened for the bass line.

I want to listen for God like I listened for the bass line. I want to devote myself to seeking His voice until all the worldly noise grows mute.

6 Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, so that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the LORD our God.”
Jeremiah 42:6 (NASB)