Missing Joe Davis


Joe was black
And played bass in our band
That was all out of whack
Till he lent us a hand, on the upright.

First night I saw him doin’ his thing
Barney answered the door in the early morn and
Allowed me upstairs where I was hearin’ them sing
Old jazz tunes, to the lead of a horn, a sax.

I sat all alone, the sole white in the place
As Joe laid a bass line that grounded it all
But all understood from the look on my face
I was in a new zone and havin’ a ball, with friends.

The sweat dripped from Joe, on his bass and the stand
But he played right on, till morn’s first glow
‘Twas the “bestest in the land,”
One hell of a show, for us all.

He joined our group later, we needed a bass,
Not expecting the reaction we got
‘Bout the shade of his face
That made them get hot, like red necks.

We played anyway and there came a change
When Joe zigzagged the floor with bass and umbrella
On “Pennies From Heaven,” they gauged the full range
Of the black-on-bass fella; they threw pennies.
His umbrella was upside down.

I was the student and he was the teacher
Not about music, chords or whatever
But dealing with people, their hates and their fears.
Joe’s lessons will last me the rest of my years,
Bless him.

—Jim Rambo—


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