Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown is Dead

In the same way that I don't really care for songs like "Stairway To Heaven", songs like "Brand New Bag" and "I Feel Good" don't do much for me these days. They're too ubiquitous, too familiar, too far ingrained in my head. They're great songs, they always will be, but I could happily live my entire life without hearing them ever again.

Even though I was already familiar with many of his major hits, I didn't really "get" James Brown until I heard "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" in my early twenties. Here was a song that was ALL rhythm, where every instrument backed and accented the drummer, while the lyrics were little more than a repetitive phrase chanted with varying energy and intensity to incredible effect. I was amazed at how such powerful music could be build from such simple elements. It gave me goosebumps. But mainly, I wondered why it wasn't fifteen minutes long.

The title of "I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door I'll Get It Myself)" tells you nearly everything you need to know about the song itself -- the lyrical content, the defiant tone, the choppy rhythm. If you don't recall the song, don't worry about it. Just read the title to yourself over and over. Sooner or later you'll be yelling it out loud, inventing your own cadence for the words, and getting funky with it.

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