An interview with legendary bass player Carol Kaye

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On Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me, Michael Shelly interviews the legendary bass player, Carol Kaye. Unless you’re a hardcore music nerd, you may not know who Carol Kaye is. You need to fix that.

Carol Kaye is the bassist behind thousands of 20th century recordings, from The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds to Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots are Made for Walkin’, to Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman. Oh, and she also played on the Mothers of Invention’s Freak Out! and the Batman theme song. The list goes on and on and on.

Get this woman into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, stat!

PKM: When producers, like Brian Wilson with “Good Vibrations,” would do a single song in parts over many sessions was that frustrating or fun for you?

Carol Kaye: You know Brian was a nice young kid. We worked for a lot of those young guys back then and Brian had something special about him, and he grew with every date. You saw his talent getting better and better and better. He’d only do one song for a three-hour date and that does get boring after a while, but he would come in and he’d give you this handwritten, kind of funny sheet music with stems on the wrong side of the notes and sharps and flats everywhere. He would sit down at the piano and play the song, to kind of give us a feel for it, and then he’d go in the booth and take charge from there.

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