Poem For A Bass Player

Did you ever read a poem about a bass player? There are not too many poems about bass players, I think. But there’s at least one. It’s written by – a bass player. His name is Jay Leonhart and he wrote a poem for bass player Chuck Berghofer.


Once again I find myself out here on the road,
Schlepping crap and playing for a singer.
An ignominious chore but one I still adore,
Man I am not the swinger?

I am out here on the road, doing all the dirty work,
As I will with pleasure til I die. To-
Day an outdoor amphitheater in an amusement park where the
Rollar Coaster endless roars by.

During the show the singer proudly talks about her new CD
On which you’ll note I did not play.
You see I live here in the east and they live on the West Coast and they
Always make their records in LA.

So like a fool I read the personnel who made the record, and
Who’s name do I always come across?
Berghoffer Berghoffer my dear friend Chuck Berghoffer, like a
Big Oak tree surrounded by green moss.

Berghoffer, Berghoffer, playing all the cushy sessions,
Leading the good life in LA.
While I do battle with a rollar coaster in the amusement park,
Three thousand miles away.

Berghoffer Berghoffer, with glorious pitch and big fat sound,
Back in LA getting all glory.
While I fight with quacking ducks and laughing clowns and screaming children, Ah it’s just the same old story.

Oh well that’s the way it goes, I do all the grubby work so the
Singer can promote her new CD.
Then she can do another album, get Berghoffer to play the bass,
Makes perfect sense to me.

Berghoffer Berghoffer, I am not complaining, I
Surely would not wish to create dissension.
I’ll just ride the back roads, Play my bass in barns and bars
And try to help the poor guy’s pension.

I’m really not complaining, we all do our dirty work, be-
sides it all works out in the end.
And when I’m out there on the road, playing at the county fairs, I’m
Doing what I can to help my friend.

Berghoffer Berghoffer my dear friend Chuck Berghoffer, like a
Big Oak tree surrounded by rich green moss.
Every time I read the names on another hot CD
Who’s name do I always come across?

Sometimes I dream that I am playing the bass in hell,
Oh it’s a scary dream. The
Devil is Chuck Berghoffer and he makes you play “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and the Barney Miller theme.

© 2006 Jay Leonhart

See also: Chuck Berghofer And His Most Famous Slide

Plas Johnson And Carol Kaye: After Hundreds Of Pop Hits Back To Jazz

Plas Johnson California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day: I’d go to the Jazz club Charlie O’s on January 5th, if I was in L.A. Sax legend Plas Johnson (“Pink Panther Theme”) and electric bass innovator Carol Kaye (“Mission Impossible Theme”) will share the same stage. But mind you, Carol Kaye will play guitar, not electric bass. Plas and Carol both started their careers in Jazz. In the nineteen-fifties they began working as studio musicians in Los Angeles, recording hundreds of Pop hits and movie scores.

Carol Kaye first played rhythm guitar on hits like “Unchained Melodie” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” (Righteous Brothers), “La Bamba” (Ritchie Valens), “What a Wonderful World” (Sam Cooke), “Surfin’ USA” (Beach Boys) and many others. Then she switched to electric bass and played unforgettable bass lines. It’s her electric bass on the Beach Boy’s “California Girls” and “Good Vibrations”, on the “The Bill Cosby Show” theme, on Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” on Elvis’s “A Little Less Conversation”, on Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound”, and on Ray Charles’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor”. For more of her bass credits check this list.

Like Carol, Plas Johnson played on countless records. A small sample of people he played with includes Carol King, Steely Dan, Barbara Streisand, Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, Little Richard, and B.B. King. For more credits check this list.

Carol KayeAfter their successful careers in the music studios, Plas Johnson and Carol Kaye returned to their Jazz roots. Plas regularly performs in Jazz clubs and at festivals. Carol also gets on stage from time to time, writes bass and guitar tutorials, and teaches (check out her valuable playing tips). It’s a rare chance to hear these two great musicians together, who both contributed so much to music.

Chuck Berghofer And His Most Famous Bass Slide

Chuck Berghofer

Nancy Sinatra’s «These Boots Are Made For Walkin’» starts with the most famous bass sliding sound that has ever been recorded in pop music.

The song was arranged by Billy Strange and produced by Lee Hazlewood, who also wrote it. The simple, catchy, and ingenious slide was played on string bass by Chuck Berghofer (sometimes you find his name written «Berghoffer»). There’s also an electric bass on «Boots», played by Carol Kaye, that starts after the opening.

Chuck Berghofer (born 1937) is one of the many jazz musicians who helped with their skill to make pop and rock records sound good. In the jazz world Chuck Berghofer played with pianist Pete Jolly and drummer Shelly Manne among others. In the sixties he started playing on countless pop and rock records that were produced in Los Angeles. He kept playing jazz besides his studio work and is still active.

Here is a small sample of artists he played with during his many-sided and at least forty years long recording career as a string and electric bassist: Ella Fitzgerald, Howard Roberts, Merle Haggard, Joni Mitchell, The Beach Boys, Barry Manilow, Jody Miller, Elvis, Frank Zappa, Diane Krall, Michael Bublé, Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, Dean Martin and many others.

See also: Poem For A Bass Player and Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: The Forgotten CD