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James Brown - Godfather of Soul
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James Brown died today at 73.

Which song(s) do you remember him by?

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I first had heard about James Brown, it was in the 80's when he cut his "Living in America" single.

Some years after that I saw the movie "Good Morning, Vietnam" and heard "I Feel Good" for about a million and one times (and had heard the song before this but didn't know who sang it).

Then I saw the movie, "A Bronx Tale" which was directed by Robert DeNiro and heard "A Man's Man's Man's World" and that is when I officially started following his music. I went and downloaded "Sex Machine", "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and many other great songs.

I had read a bio about him and when I was in tradeschool I shared dorms with black students who were constantly watching the BET cable station, in our dorm lounge. It was the first time I had ever heard of the station and at the time, BET's advertising campaign was "Black and Proud" and in between commecials they were always playing the snippet, which was a station identification of about 10 seconds, with a sillhouetted young man dancing hip hop style and a clip of music... James Brown singing, "Say it loud! / I"m black and I'm proud!".

I knew that when the song became a hit (during late 60s-early 70s...don't remember precicsely) we were at war in Vietnam. When JB came out with the song it was sort of like, "Hey, I'm black and I'm gonna sing what I want to, this is America", which at the time was VERY avante-garde of him because our country's black Amercians at the time, only had limited images representing black American mainstream music and it was "happy and sing-songy", and blacks identified with this new prideful anthem.

James Brown was also probably one of the first people to make funk music and inspire generations after him to continue it.

He grew up alone with no mother, and a dad who was constantly out working and never home. So he learned about music to satisfy himself and mastered piano, reading music and putting his heart and soul and human experience into his performances, to create a raw talent that is rare these days, what with all the overdubbed voice recording, sampling and regurgitation of so many other musical things and no one having anything original to contribute anymore.

When he was a boy, he would go to church and try to play the piano when no one was looking, practicing 'boogie woogie-style' piano rhythms and jazzy stuff which was kind of frowned upon in church. So to keep getting at the piano he offered to be the janitor. When no one was around and he was done cleaning he would come up with stuff on the piano. He would think of how the preacher's sermon was sing-songy and how the preacher's voice and tone would go back and forth between being full of joy and pain, and then how sometimes the voice would almost become a scream or a pleading yell. This is what inspired him to write music which was more emotional than melodic. His stage moves were sort of inspired by how people would fall over in church and writhe with 'the spirit'.

In his later years, people made fun of him for his crazy whipped hair, his on and off marriages, assault charges, and drug problems. Yeah he was a crazy dude in his later years, but he was one in a million.



Last edited by bwoodsdesign on Sun Dec 31, 2006 4:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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bwoodsdesign wrote:


Then I saw the movie, "A Bronx Tale" which was directed by Robert DeNiro and heard "A Man's Man's Man's World" and that is when I officially started following his music. I went and downloaded "Sex Machine", "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and many other great songs.


Funny you found his songs through movies. I first heard of James Brown in the movie "48 Hours". Eddie Murphy was singing James Brown's song when he was in a jail cell.

By the way, "A Bronx Tale" is one of my all-time favorites. It is not a widely known film though. Made by HBO, never shown in theaters.

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Terry wrote:
Funny you found his songs through movies. I first heard of James Brown in the movie "48 Hours". Eddie Murphy was singing James Brown's song when he was in a jail cell.


I remember that now...but I didn't see "48 Hours" until years after that...what song was it Eddie was singing?

Terry wrote:
By the way, "A Bronx Tale" is one of my all-time favorites. It is not a widely known film though. Made by HBO, never shown in theaters.


Mine too! It was the first I'd ever seen Chaz Palmentari (sp?).

Some more info I forgot to add about JB...

He wanted to go on tour with the USO and do shows for the troops. The military powers were not familiar with much black music and didn't know James Brown very well. So for some reason thought his act would not be of much importance, and thusly limited who out of his band and entourage he could bring with him overseas and the performance lacked because of it.

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bwoodsdesign wrote:

I remember that now...but I didn't see "48 Hours" until years after that...what song was it Eddie was singing?


Don't remember the song title. Just remember Eddie Murphy was screaming "Oh, baby baby baby ...". I'd say half of James Brown's songs have that line. Laughing

Happy New Year, Bwoodsdesign!

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Hey Happy New Year to you too !

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