Tuesday, December 26, 2006

James Brown - Memories That Won't Leave Me Alone

I wasn't going to post for a while. I was feeling overwhelmed with thoughts and possibilities. So I took a small time out to check out the blogging neighborhood. Women bloggers are catching hell in a hand basket. Some are dropping from exhaustion or life commitments.

Some of the women bloggers are being trolled out of existence and some are just frustrated out of words. Ladies, I understand. Take care and do what you need to do to be safe. Re-create your self by any means necessary. Swing if you must and rest if you can. Put on some tunes and stomp away the dark times, if only for an hour or two.

Me? I had the words but there were so many of them fighting to get out I didn't know which group to let out first.

Then Mr. Brown makes his transition to the upper room. Dang. Most of the reports have reduced him down to a soul singer of the sixties with drug problems and a tendency to beat up on women. Not so simple with this man. He was complicated. His life story is a testament of self-will. Re-creation. The penultimate example of "I Am Somebody!" I wanted to say something about what he meant to me.

He defined himself and by extension generations of people. He certainly had an effect on me. The song in question? "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud." One week I was in school yard fights cuz I was too black and the week that song came out I was in more fights cuz I wasn't black enough.

I was racking up more fights than Ali. I didn't hate James Brown but as far I was concerned he needed to change up on that song quick. Yes please bring that Licking Stick, Cold Sweat anything but that song. It was a tough time. That song was every where all day, all night and god help you on the weekends.

I eventually worked out my problems of identity and where I fit in to the world. But in 1968 America went stone mad. It was in turmoil. It was an extraordinary time in my history.

That song is a life marker for me. It planted seeds of primordial funk that can be traced from James Brown to Sly and the Family Stone, ConFunktion, Ohio Players, Bar-Kays and absolutely Parliament/Funkadelic. It put me on a musical path I can't lose and don't want to.

One of these days in the old folks home I will pull out the hologram and a bunch of us will be dancing to "Get On the Good Foot". They will try to sedate us. They will fail. We have opened up the door and nothing can keeps us from getting funky.

(Pssst...anybody know where I can get a legal copy of the T.A.M.I Show? Note I said "legal" copy. )

Still more stuff:

What the heck is T.A.M.I? and how did this show come about? Check out http://www.learmedia.ca/product_info.php/products_id/1202

Over at NPR you can download an entire James Brown concert.
It is a whopper of a file, 89MB but if you got the bandwidth go for it http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6672632

Terry Gross did an interview with him in 2005 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6676984

At PBS they did an American Master special on Mr. Brown. You can view the web page where they give an in depth perspective of his life and his contribution to American music http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/brown_j.html

December 30, 2006 update: There is a wonderful interview of James Brown and Al Sharpton on Democracy Now. The first section is about the Apollo Funeral Line but when you get past that there are excerpts of an interview conducted 25 years ago conducted by Jon Alpert.

Mr. Brown tells how he was frozen out by mainstream radio and television, the death of the independent record producers by major record companies. Remember, this was long before the Internet. He talks about how certain folks in South Africa did not want him to perform, about self empowerment and what folks should be focused on. http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/12/29/1446218

The video is in Real Player format but if you don't have Real Player you can download an mp3 audio version. My anger is only that of why didn't I and others get to see this before he died. But it is a blessing to have this documentation.


  1. I am new to this whole scene.

    Why do you say "women bloggers are catching hell in a handbasket". Why are women bloggers so frustrated?

    do you have any links about the context for this? I would like to learn more.

  2. Great post, Gena. I met you at Vloggercon but lost your email address. Any chance of you emailing me? I'd like to stay in touch. cheryl-dot-colan-at-gmail-dot-com

  3. Hey Jen,

    Maybe I should have done this as a separate post but I do have some examples for you.

    blac(k)ademic has pulled the plug because she is in an Doctoral program. She is also a womanist and expresses non-doormat points of view. She generated a lot of heat but always provided illumination on a topic. In truth she has got to do what is best for her at this time. http://www.blackademic.com

    My heart goes out to Den of the Biting Beaver. http://bitingbeaver.blogspot.com/
    She has been put through hell and then some. She is a feminist writer so she get a high troll level just for that alone.

    It is a long complicated story but here is a synopsis:

    Has sex with man, condom breaks.

    Goes to doctor for legal morning after pill.

    Doctor drags feet. Finally gives prescription.

    Goes to pharmacy. Pharmacy deliberately drags feet. Finally gets pills.

    Too late, conception.

    Has to deal with morality & fundamentalist trolls in addition to the regular ones.

    Decides to get abortion. The woman is attacked by....

    Go to her blog to find out the next chapter. http://bitingbeaver.blogspot.com

    These are two examples but unfortunately there are more. We need a diversity of voices conservative/liberal traditional/radical. So much work to do. Amazing times for all

  4. Hey Gena,

    Thanks for the links that gives me a broader perspective.

    I am aiming to "step up" and get a bit more involved.

    Ryanne just started a wiki to gather female techy speakers.

    Are you gonna sign up? I think you would be great!

  5. Fantastic post -- pains me to hear about more women being trolled out of existence (I have opinions on that). But your links to the Reverend have helped me too. Thank you.

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