Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown

There have already been a lot of posts about James Brown’s death, but this is just too much of a milestone. He was always one of those larger-than-life personalities that you just can’t imagine not being on the music charts or in the headlines.

I haven’t listened to much of his music during the past few decades, but he had some dynamite songs in the mid-’60s. If I had to pick any favorite songs of his, they’d be “Ain’t That A Groove” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” He had much bigger hits than that, but those two songs really struck a chord.

No matter what kind of music you listen to (unless it’s country, bluegrass or polka), it was influenced by James Brown. Sly Stone is often credited with pioneering the funk/soul/rock sounds of the late ’60s/early ‘70s, but he was influenced by James Brown. He also paved the way for a lot of jazz-fusion albums from the ‘70s (Miles Davis, Weather Report).

Even if you’ve never listened to anything by James Brown, you’ve heard his music sampled by everyone from Public Enemy to Nine Inch Nails.



Blogger PoliShifter said...

He had a lot of great songs (say in loud, Living in America, Sex Machine etc)

He will be missed. He kept on going though and I give him a lot of credit for that. Through all the adversity he kept on playing and touring. I think he had a gig coming up very soon before he left the earth.

December 26, 2006 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

PoliShifter: Yup, he really showed how an individual can overcome adversity. His childhood was pretty rough from what I've read -- poverty, jail and reform school. And I think he had a lot of health problems in his later years, plus legal troubles. But nothing ever stopped him. He was a real inspiration.

December 26, 2006 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Post Tom,

We so often forget who the true Innovators are and pay too much attention to who comes lately. As a kid James Brown was considered "race" Music, always trashed by the mainstream and the Rock press. When people like the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Average White Band and Tower of Power all said how much they were inspired (in many cases outright copied) by him, he then became a living legend.

Yes he inspired the whole Funk period and got sampled so much from rap and hip-hop, he should be a billionaire!

Dance wise he invented so many steps and inspired Micheal Jackson, MC Hammer and Mick Jagger among many others.

I miss him


December 26, 2006 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: You're right, with all the sampling that's been done, he'd be a billionaire if people had to pay royalties on it.

It's amazing how influential he was. Most pop music, and a lot of jazz, would sound totally different today without James Brown's innovations.

December 26, 2006 at 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a terrible story this was. We lost a HUGE Icon in music and we will never see the likes of this man again.

Also I hope you had a great Christmas and that you have an even better new year.

December 26, 2006 at 6:09 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ricardo: Thanks, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too. You're right, James Brown was a huge musical icon. Irreplaceable.

December 26, 2006 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

"I Can't Stand Myself When You Touch Me"... has to be one of the most sexually charged things ever recorded... it has always been my favorite of his, anyway. I never got to see him peform, but I always found myself totally mesmerized when watching him on the TV.

Gotta stay on the scene, like a sex machine...


December 27, 2006 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: I don't know that song, at least not the title. I haven't heard anything by him in quite awhile. Probably the most recent song I know by him was "Living in America" from one of the Rocky sequels. But he had some dynamite songs, that's for sure.

December 27, 2006 at 12:44 PM  

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