James Brown: "I'm Going Away Tonight"
All day yesterday I heard a big chord. It wasn't one of those scratchy rhythm guitar chords with the built in funk. Sure, there were plenty of those as the tributes began, but this was just a straight ahead major chord. It was saying that a great man had passed away. Of course, those funk chords and beats were awesome, and through them James Brown gave us his spirit - dramatic, powerful, good, bad, clean and messy. Yes, it's true. At times James Brown's life was really messed up - this wasn't the first time he said he was going away. Okay, fine, but that part's over. It's really just a footnote now.
Sadly, the time has come to look back at James Brown. It's time to forget the footnotes and "Get on the Good Foot" - time to contemplate what an amazing force the guy truly was. Who put more life into music? Nobody. Who played it funkier and with a more electrifying stage show? Nobody. In a purely academic sense, very few musicians have invented a new musical genre, but James Brown did. Before they called it Funk Music they just called it James Brown. I never liked the Godfather of Soul trademark. There were others who helped create soul music, but there was only one Father of Funk. In my opinion he created that whole bag. And thankfully, the music will still be around - here on earth as long as we are. If anything in history ever had staying power, this music has staying power.
Remember how he used to conduct his band between actual songs? Incredible, intricate arrangements that would stop and start, dazzling the crowd with their precision? Then he would scream or yell out "Hit it" and the next monster groove would commence. Well, the band's still there ready to pounce but James Brown is gone. He said, "I'm going away tonight" and he left. The band was silent, but a big chord rose up and went around the globe. It's the sound the world makes when a great man dies.