I’m not going to lie—I had no idea who Donald “Duck” Dunn was until I saw the news story announcing his death. You probably have no idea who he is either. Upon further investigation, I learned that I have been hearing his songs all my life. You probably have been too.
A bass guitarist from Memphis, Tennessee, Dunn was a session musician, playing with Booker T. & the MGs, the Blues Brothers, Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, and many others. He lent his bass to The Mar-Keys for “Last Night,” to Otis Redding in “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” to Booker T. & the MGs for “Time is Tight,” and to Rod Stewart in “Tonight’s the Night.”
To pay homage to Duck Dunn’s memory, went on YouTube and found “Time is Tight.” I settled back in my chair to listen, eyes closed. The song began to play, and I started out of my chair. Yes, it was Booker T. & the MGs, but it was almost unrecognizable. The tiny, built-in speakers for my computer were woefully inadequate for Dunn’s complex bass. The sound became distorted, tinny, and hollow. It pulled all the soul out of the music, which horrified me. As a devout music lover, it pains me to hear such soulful music being mangled so carelessly. Turning off the song, I took out my vPulse headphones, plugged them into my computer, and eagerly waited for the beautiful and complex bass to begin. The song immediately came alive and I began to relax as I heard Dunn strumming his bass guitar, each a unique and separate sound, unlike the low, constant hum I heard before.
Donald “Duck” Dunn was a great man and a great bassist. Even in death, he taught me something valuable. A good set of speakers makes all the difference.