In 2001 Gary Marker wrote to say the following:
Zig-Zag Wanderer was a specific reference to the popular rolling papers of the same name. (“You can huff, you can puff…” doesn’t ring any faint, tinkling bells and conjure up any smoke-drenched images?)
I probably read this a while back on the Beefheart newsgroup: someone was confused about the bass line on “Zig-Zag Wanderer” and wanted to know if anyone had transcribed it. Well, one of the difficulties in figuring out the bass part on that song is probably because – and if you listen carefully you can hear it fairly clearly – there are three distinct basses being played on that song, blending in and out, sometimes two playing, and for a few bars here and there, three basses playing in unison, then one or two basses wandering off with variants on the basic line.
It’s a long story, but what happened was that three bass players – Jerry Handley, Ry Cooder and yours truly – all took a whack at laying down something with a little punch to it, and not knowing which or whose performance to use, the producers (Krasnow and that other guy) ended up using bits and pieces from everyone.