True entertainers like Brown are dying and the void they leave is so vast and seemingly unable to be filled. James Brown came on the scene during a time that today’s young people don’t understand. I can clearly remember the moments when James Brown or any other Black person's appearance on television was a rarity back in the 1960s. When Blacks were on, it was usually Dick Clark's American Bandstand, The Ed Sullivan Show or Hullabaloo. There was also an announcement as if they were royalty. Shouts within the house and to the neighbors went something like this, “Hey, come here, colored people on TV. Hurry up!”
That all seems so unreal; yeah, that was back in the day when Blacks were “colored,” you know, right after we were “Negro.” Anyhoo, I’ll leave that alone and get back to James Brown. Folks would find a seat on the sofa or a chair or the floor or anywhere for a few brief minutes of watching James Brown, the Supremes, the Temptations, Otis Redding and others. I was a little kid, I didn’t understand the how proud the older folks felt; I didn’t understand how proud I was until later.
There was something about James Brown. We were mesmerized when he performed. He had that funny hairstyle but he could sing, play the piano and man, oh, man he could dance. Every time he finished performing we would imitate him. Especially, his ten minute exit with Maceo and that cape! How campy was that! We pulled thigh muscles and split a lot of pants trying to do the James Brown. It was fun.
Those early James Brown days seem to be lost on this generation. I wish more young people would listen to his music. As I matured, I began to actually listen to his lyrics. Some lyrics were nonsensical but others were quite prolific. Take some time out to listen to “King Heroin.” I think it was on the flip side of Payback. I didn’t listen to the B side of many records back then. King Heroin was definitely gully for back in the day.
James Joseph Brown, Jr. recorded over 800 songs and appeared in more than 150 movies and television shows. I’ll miss him but his music lives on. There is only one James Brown but his style can be seen in the likes of Prince, Michael Jackson, will.i.am, MC Hammer and others. Long live the King, the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Ashe’.
My Top Ten James Brown tunes:
1. Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud
2. The Big Payback
3. Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine)
4. Papa's Got a Brand New Bag
5. King Heroin
6. It's a Man's Man's Man's World
7. I Got You (I Feel Good)
8. Please Please Please
9. Night Train
10. Cold Sweat