8 Songs Carol Kaye Turned Into MASTERPIECES


8. Nancy Sinatra- These Boots Are Made For Walkin’

MOVIN’ WITH NANCY — Pictured: Singer Nancy Sinatra in 1967 — (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

About working on this classic track Carol Kaye says,  “Nancy liked two basses on her songs. That might’ve come from Billy Strange, who did the arrangement. But it worked. You needed a strong bottom end on a song like this. Boy, what a hit, huh? You couldn’t turn on the radio at one point without hearing ‘Boots.’”​ Most fans believe that Carol played the sliding sounds in this song but that was in fact fellow bassist, Chuck Berghofer.


7. Buffalo Springfield- Expecting To Fly

SEPTEMBER 1: Supergroup “Buffalo Springfield” pose for their first PR photo in September 1966. (L-R) Dewey Martin, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Neil Young, and Bruce Palmer. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Carol Kaye laid bass tracks on “Expecting To Fly” from Buffalo Springfield, written by Neil Young. The song was one of the last that the group recorded. The band member who had the most to do with this track was Young, who was planning to depart from Buffalo Springfield to begin his solo career. Producer Jack Nitzsche brought in an orchestra to work on the track in attempts to popularize the song a bit more- without much success. The song reached #98 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968.

6. Ike & Tina Turner- River Deep- Mountain High

(UK OUT) LOS ANGELES – 1966: Husband and wife R&B duo Ike and Tina Turner with record producer Phil Spector while recording in Los Angeles, California at Gold Star Studios in 1966. (Photo by Ray Avery/Getty Images)

On the song that Phil Spector considered his best work- Kaye says, “It felt like another thing that was going to be a hit, but to walk in the booth and there’s a ton of people in the booth and there’s a ton of us out in the studio, it almost felt like a party.” She mentioned that it didn’t feel like the studio was “taking care of business.” There was too many people in the studio and not enough focused people to make the song click.

5. Joe Cocker- Feelin’ Alright

SAN FRANCICSCO, CA – SEPTEMBER, 1972: English singer and musician Joe Cocker (1944-2014) performs during a concert in September, 1972 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Robert Altman/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Apparently, after the session band gave their all and nailed the first take of the song- no one had recorded it. On the original take not being recorded Carol says, “Well, we did it again and got it just as good. No, we got it really good. But you know what? There was something about the version that didn’t get recorded, the one that nobody will ever hear – it was THE take! [sighs] Oh, well…”

4. Sonny and Cher- The Beat Goes On

LOS ANGELES – APRIL 1966: Entertainers Sonny Bono and Cher record in the studio at a Neumann mic in April 1966 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

It was on the third line of ” The Beat Goes On” that Carol Kaye decided the song would be structured around her instrument. Carol says about the Sonny and Cher track “Well, “The Beat Goes On” is a biggie. I mean, it was a nothing song, and then the bass line kind of made that.” This is a great example of Kaye’s pure genius. With freedom to make her own music she would turn ideas into real masterpieces.

3. Simon and Garfunkel- Homeward Bound

NEW YORK – CIRCA 1967: Singer/songwriter Paul Simon (right) and singer Art Garfunkel of the folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel in a Columbia Records publicity still circa 1967 1966 in New York, New York. (Photo by Columbia Records/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

If you have ever found yourself getting sentimental to some of Simon and Garfunkel’s classics then there is a very strong chance that the person behind that emotional and isolated bass line is Carol Kaye. Carol’s work with Simon and Garfunkel on “Homeward Bound”  was just as important as any of her other work- the result was phenomenal. Kaye also worked on S&G’s “Scarborough Fair/ Canticle.”

2. The Doors- Light My Fire

GERMANY – 1st SEPTEMBER: American rock group The Doors perform live on stage in Germany in September 1968. Left to right: John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Jim Morrison (1943-1971) and Ray Manzarek (1939-2013). (Photo by Gunter Zint/K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns)

About working on “Light My Fire” Kaye says, “Well, the Doors weren’t there. Just a couple of the guys were there in the booth. We cut the track (“Light My Fire”). I’m playing on that, but I don’t like to talk about it, because there’s too many fanatics about that stuff.” Kaye is mostly referring to The Doors’ infamous rock and roller antics- including shameless drug use. Carol Kaye was and remains a professional musician in the truest sense of the word.

1. The Beach Boys- Pet Sounds Album 

UNITED STATES – JANUARY 01: Photo of BEACH BOYS and Brian WILSON; Brian Wilson in a recording studio (Photo by RB/Redferns)

Kaye laid bass tracks on most of the album Pet Sounds and numerous Beach Boys songs. She has this to say about working with Brian Wilson, “I worked for many many sessions for him. He is one of the greatest people in the world, very kind, very strong… And he should have his rightful place in the world amongst the geniuses of the music world. His beauty is apparent in his music, and that’s a truth that no one, no matter how hard they try, can take away from him.”