Friday, March 4, 2011


It doesn't get much better than this — James Brown ratcheting it up through a Little Willie John tune, complete with lazy horns which sometimes pop like flashbulbs or downtown traffic horns, the maestro's voice deep in the groove. The ultimate song to discover as you start to settle into a music store's bins and this beauty comes on. It could change your life's direction. As Emily Dickinson was said to have said when she heard this song in a leafy Amherst, Massachusetts used music store: "It took off the top of my head."

I first heard this song years ago on a King LP I covet (own) titled Thinking About Little Willie John and A Few Nice Things — to die-for covers by JB.

The hardest working man in show business was born in South Carolina in 1933. An African American with Apache descent and Asian ancestry. Brown had a rough childhood: very poor, his mother hightailed it off with another man by the time he was ten, that left him with his father who taught him how to play harmonica and an aunt running a house of prostitution. In that house came Tampa Red who gave JB his first guitar lessons. Otherwise, he was hustling friends, survival on the streets, and answering life's messages — locked-up at age sixteen for armed robbery being one. While in lock-up he met another servant of gospel and rhythm & blues: Bobby Byrd, and really the rest is music history. Both men would pass away at age 73.

James Brown & Bobby Byrd in the groove

photo JB :