James Brown Is Dead
James Brown is dead. Sadly, this ain’t no LA Style put-on.
The great man died in my hometown early Christmas morning. That’s some damn ugly news to greet the day with. Within hours all the papers had their pre-written obits out, probably been sitting on them for a decade. This isn’t an obituary. James Brown needs no stale, rehashed history to send him off, and the most skilled writer in the land couldn’t say in 3000 words what Brown himself articulates in 30 seconds of “I Got You (I Feel Good)”.
No, no histories here. If you need to learn James Brown, then you will never get James Brown, not at this late date. If you don’t realize that he built the MF’n house you’re standing in- drew the plans, broke the ground, rose the roof and decorated the walls, then too late for you.
No, this ain’t no history. But it is a bit of schooling. Read any of the multitude of stories about him that have appeared since his passing and they all include something along the lines of “ Brown also was plagued by personal problems” – like that makes a bit of fucking difference. Yeah, James Brown was human. Yeah, he raised hell, treated the people around him- and himself- like shit sometimes. Ya know what? Every tattooed POS in every trailer park around the world has too. What else have they done? Fuck that.
James Brown invented a world. A world that millions since have embraced. Lived in. Extended. His children are vast in number, riotous in voice, enthused with a pride he helped define. In contemporary culture the only close comparison, in terms of influence and invention, would be the Beatles. But James Brown was there first. His sound and attitude is so bedrock fundamental to modern music that he should be on the periodic table of elements- “JB 73 Funk.”
Yeah, James Brown is dead. The body, anyway. But his world will live on forever.
I said the feeling you got to get
Give me the fever in a cold sweat
The way I like it that’s the way it is
I got mine don’t worry ‘bout his
Sure as you’re born, James Brown is dead.
I don’t think so…