But he knows ka-razy! Has there ever been a cooler line in a song…ever!?! Makes you think “Whah…oh that’s a baaad man!” James Brown, the Godfather of Soul died on Christmas morning. Has any person done more to define a genre of music (r&b and funk) and several genres spawned from the original than James Brown? Hip Hop, soul, R&B, Disco, pop. James had a hand in all of them. Sure he got caught up in drugs and alcohol and the the criminality that comes with all that, but for this moment, lets just look at the singer, the showman.
I was introduced to Brown’s music through the Dead Presidents’ movie soundtrack (not the hip-hop one, the classic soul and funk one) and the song Payback. Which had that awesome line…I don’t know karate, but I know ka-razy. I had to get my fix so next came James’ 40th Anniversary greatest Hits Collection. Wow! James has helped me clean my house many times among other things. You see, when I don’t feel like doing something, I have to put James on and it gets done. If you ever listen to Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine or Soul Power or Hot Pants (my wife’s personal favorite) and your feet didn’t move, then you better check yourself because you might be dead.
Boston owes a great debt to Mr. Brown as well. Brown had a concert scheduled at the Garden in 1968, but Dr. King was shot the day before (I think…it was within 48 hours of the show). Brown chose to perform and came on stage giving it his all as always did. The footage shows him stopping many times to calm the crowd and helping to keep thousands of angry people off the streets in an already racially charged city.
I’ve personally had the pleasure of going to his home town of Augusta Georgia in July on a mission trip. I’ve seen some of the streets that he grew up on and the conditions that he knew. It’s not pretty. We repaired houses on the po’ side of town, as they say. In heat that stopped roofing work because the shingle were melting. Its a tough life as far as I could tell. Cars driving by yelling for the whiteys to go home. Rounding the kids up and running them behind the house as a warrant was served across the street. I’m glad they got to see that even though I was scared for them and for myself. That week probably influenced me more spirtiually than any other. Maybe I’ll write about that more later.
Anyway, I’m a huge fan of soul, R&B, Blues, Jazz, and other music that Brown either influenced directly or used as influences himself. If you haven’t really listened to that kind of music…give it a try. We just sit in our own worlds and never experience others, but James’ music was an art that imitated life. So if you want to learn a lilttle more about the world, maybe get a different perspective, give James a spin. Listen to “Down and Out in New York City”
“I was born in New York City on a Monday/Swear I was shinin’ shoes by Tuesday noon…”
If you want to try a new style of music try:
-Dead Presidents (soul) soundtrack
-James Brown 40th Anniversary Collection
-Best of Sam & Dave
-Blues Brothers movie soundtrack
-The Funk box