Thinking about one of my favorite musicians of all time, James Brown, after seeing Tommy Castro who covered several of Mr Brown's tunes last weekend at Space. When I asked Tommy Castro what he did to prepare for a gig he told me that he ought to be meditating or focusing or playing warm up scales or what ever, but usually it was his band, all sitting around in the tour bus watching the same James Brown video that got them all up for the show. I could relate to that.
James Brown was a big influence on my music, his primal screams, his urgent beats, his seminal TV & movie performances, vinyl records with their photos of James in a conch and super thin pants, wailing from the stereo. I digested these things and came back hungry for more!
My first band, the Supernaturals, played heartfelt covers of his songs like Please Please Please, Try Me, & Think, but we never matched his ernest begging. His "30 Golden Hits" cassette was always in rotation in my van when we went on road trips. I bonded with drummer Janet Cramer when we were driving to Tennasee for a gig & she played me James Brown mp3's from her lap top all the way there.
James wrote songs that got right to the point. Not a lot of words, fancy phrases, just the facts and always a great groove. James wrote the following classic song lyrics: "I feel good! Like I knew I would. So good, I got you." Short, sweet and to the point. Then there's this classic "This is a mans' world, a MAN's world, but it wouldn't be nothing without a woman or a girl." Okay?
How about my favorite 'tell it like it is' lyrics, ladies? "Hot pants, make you sure of yourself, cause a womans' got to use what she's got to get what she wants." That is the truth since the beginning of time!
Young Michael Jackson stood back stage watching James Brown shimmy, split & slide back up, do the Good Foot dance on one foot across the stage while his band hit the back beat like a finely tuned engine. Then when you went to see the Jackson 5, you saw Michaels version of James, and it was great! Even in his later years, James could out dance, out sing, out bandlead, just out do most entertainers. There wouldn't be a Bad, or a Thriller, no Bootsy, no Parliment and half the Hip Hop wouldn't a been did if there hadn't first been The God Father of Soul.
There should be James Brown Day, a legal holiday, for the man who invented funk, who nurtured so many great musicians, who wrote so many hit records, who gave his talent for free on TV the night Dr King was assasinated in order to keep grieving people all over the country from rioting & starting fires. James Brown is one of my heros, thank you Godfather.