BASS article for Newsletter March 07 – Hey Mr Bassman!


Let’s face it, we members of the choir, are getting on a bit. We are generally, greyer, slower and dafter than we used to be.

Hopefully, in the 50-70 years made available to us, we have been able to realise many of our ambitions. We have found partners, raised families, bought houses, built careers, seen a bit of the world and taken pleasure from small things. But did we go the extra mile? Could we have achieved more? Is there still time to find the summit? Here is a quiz to test out a few home truths. Ask yourself:

  • When you were in your teens, did you hear ‘Mr Bassman’ in 1963 by Johnny Cymbal, and did you wish that you could be that man??
  • Did you thrill to the sound of Dwayne Eddy and play air guitar in your bedroom?
  • When you were sixteen did try to grow whiskers and did you practice lowering your voice to sound older and more mature?
  • Do you wish you could sing the ‘doo-wap/da doo-wap/ da doo-wap /da do-wap’ bit in Sloop John B?
  • Did you spot the effect that Willard White had on the ladies?

You can probably see the way I am leading. If you answered ‘Yes’ to 2 or more questions, you are probably a frustrated Bass.

Frustrated because you make think that life’s lottery did not put you at the front of the queue when the vocal chords were handed out. You may have been at the end of the line and had to put up with a high-pitched, reedy type of voice- it is because when the Great Giver saw how many people were still waiting, He had to stretch things out a bit. (Just the same as with hair really. Those at the front got long-life colour and superior long lasting hair, but, looking at the length of the queue, He then had to dilute it for those at the back. Most of us got the ‘It’ll see them through until middle age’ dose. The really unlucky ones were fooled with a decent Barnet to start with that turned out to be sub-standard then and fell out –and they may have copped a reedy voice to boot. COULD BE EDITED OUT)

Whatever your condition, do not despair. If you smoke prodigiously, drink deeply and shout incessantly, your voice is likely to get deeper. (Unfortunately your hair will be unaffected and you will probably become a social outcast- but you can’t have everything now can you?)

It is always gratifying for the grunti in the choir when members from other sections succumb to their heart-felt ambitions and try to join the section by simulating the rich tones for a few seconds. I have to report that more than one prominent baritone has auditioned in the past, but have had to go back chastened and defeated. At a recent house-warming party, one front line first tenor had a go with the bass boys. He was well oiled at the time and is unlikely to do it again. I am not going to name names but these men are heroes. The point is, they had the courage to try.

They dreamed the impossible dream, they reached for the stars. Just for a fleeting moment they felt the power, the sheer pleasure of singing bass. They came out, they acknowledged. Here are the words of the song, which just say it all really:

Bah B B Bah BBah Bah BB

Bah BB Bah B B Boom Boom Boom

Hey Mr Bassman, You’ve got that certain something

Hey Mr Bassman, You set the music thumping

To you it’s easy when you go 1-2-3

‘Bah B B Bah B Bah Bhah BB’

No, no – Bah BB Bah Bah B Boom Boom Boom

Hey Mr Bassman, You’re on all the songs with a

Bah B B Bah Bah B Bah BB

Bah BB Bah Bha B Boom Boom Boom

Well it don’t mean a thing, when the leads are singing

When he goes Ay Ay Ay Ay Ay Yi

Hey Mr Bassman, I’m asking just one thing,

Will you please teach me, Yeah the way you sing

‘Cause Mr Bassman, I want to be a Bassman too etc

Andy Johnston

Edited out

Did you thrill to  ‘Bah-Bop-Ba-Bah/ Bop-Ah Bah-Bop-Ba-Bah /Bop –Ah-Bah-Bop-Ba-Bah/ Bop-A Dingalong –a Ding– Blue Moon’

  • In your middle age years, did you ever have a ‘Billy the Bass’ fixed on your wall to amaze your visitors by singing ‘Take me to the River’