Prisoner of Love/Please Don't Go from the T.A.M.I. Show (1965) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USTilaOqNHM
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.