In Line at St. Peter’s Gate


Whatever will they talk about? Here’s your Gerald Ford/James Brown open thread…

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  1. Ford was cool. I campaigned with my dad for him. It is a shame that more GOP’er don’t follow his lead by working with the opposition party instead of just tearing them down…
    James Brown, the godfather of soul, enough said…

  2. I have about 14 original James Brown albums, several 45s, many of them on the original King label. My brother once asked me if I would ever sell them on eBay. Never. To me, they are priceless, scratches and all.
    The range of music this man has written, arranged and performed is just incredible, everything from slow ballads, to soul, R&B, dance tunes and rap.
    I’ve seen him perform live twice, once at Irving Plaza, and another time at a club in Long Island of which the name escapes me. Me and my friend waited around after the LI concert to see if we could get his autograph but no such luck. We DID manage to get the autograph of someone in the band named Haji who signed my “James Brown Presents His Show of Tomorrow” LP, which featured Bobby Byrd, Hank Ballard, Marva Whitney, Vickie Anderson and James Crawford. He was surprised that I had such an old album in my possession.
    Listening to James Brown opened my ears to other soul greats such as Ballard, Bill Doggett, Earl Bostic and Little Willie John.
    They sure don’t write ’em like that anymore.
    RIP, JB.

  3. He made so much great music, AND he CHANGED music — he made “Brand New Bag,” and it sounded like NOTHING before it, and wham, a whole new genre grew out of it. James mutated soul into funk, and all those soul artists followed him – they started making funky records, hitting that 1 beat hard, and turning every instrument into percussion. JB CREATED funk. No James, no Sly Stone. No James, no Parliament/Funkadelic, or Ohio Players, or… Funk! No funk, no hip-hop. really — like it or hate it, the dominant pop music of today would not exist had there been no JB. Who had a bigger influence on popular music in the last fifty years than James Brown had? I don’t think you could name more than one or two people.

  4. Oh, you can’t get to heaven (group repeats)
    On roller skates. (group repeats)
    You’ll roll right by (group repeats)
    Those pearly gates. (group repeats)
    Oh, you can’t get to heaven on roller skates.
    You’ll roll right by those pearly gates.
    I ain’t a-gonna grieve my Lord no more.
    I ain’t a-gonna grieve my Lord no more.
    I ain’t a-gonna grieve my Lord no more.
    I ain’t a-gonna grieve my Lord no more.
    Oh, you can’t get to heaven in a rocking chair
    ‘Cause the rocking chair won’t take you there.
    Oh, you can’t get to heaven in James Brown’s car
    ‘Cause the gosh darn thing won’t go that far.
    Oh, you can’t get to heaven on a rocket ship
    ‘Cause the rocket ship won’t take that trip.
    Oh, you can’t get to heaven with powder and paint
    ‘Cause the Lord don’t want you as you ain’t.
    Oh, you can’t get to heaven in a limousine
    ‘Cause the Lord don’t sell no gasoline.
    Oh, you can’t get to heaven on a pair of skis
    ‘Cause you’ll schuss right through St. Peter’s knees.
    If you get to heaven before I do,
    Just bore a hole and pull me through.
    If I get to heaven before you do,
    I’ll plug that hole with shavings and glue.
    “That’s all there is. There ain’t no more,”
    St. Peter said, and closed the door.

  5. crikey! all you maytes james brown lovers are ya? jumpin roos who wooda thought? say it loud – i live in Baristaville and I’m proud!

  6. Muddy Waters. Bo Diddley. Little Walter. Robert Johnson. Buddy Guy. So many others up from Mississippi and transplanted to Chicago. Each as, or even more, influential in their own respective ways (especially on white rockers). And most apparently not prone to the domestic violence accusations (among others) that dogged Brown for so many years.
    Yes, he was one of the greats. But he was a very flawed great. And every time I saw him, even at the Apollo, for all the seeming spontaneity and hectic onstage dancing, every show ended after about 45 minutes, the cape bit included. Calculatedly.
    Hard to dislike someone who had the wild good taste to cover crooner Russ Colombo’s “Prisoner Of Love” early on. Wrong to canonize him so quickly. And it’s depressing to watch the Reverend Al suddenly, shamefully trying to abscond with his memory, to claim a Damon & Pythias-like relationship with James Brown. (If only because when would Brown have ever even had the time, given his touring schedule?)
    I suspect he may have to work his ass off, in a cold, funky sweat, in Purgatory for a while. Perhaps even via a benefit concert for the Devil, with Robert Johnson playing guitar in his band and Marvin Gaye singing backup.

  7. What makes you think Ford is going to heaven? He pardoned Nixon, brought Rumsfeld and Cheney to the fore from obscurity and vetoed the Freedom of Information Act! James Brown, on the other hand, was known as the Godfather of Soul, and is surely in heaven laying down the groove.

  8. What makes you think Ford is going to heaven? He pardoned Nixon, brought Rumsfeld and Cheney to the fore from obscurity and vetoed the Freedom of Information Act! James Brown, on the other hand, was known as the Godfather of Soul, and is surely in heaven laying down the groove.

  9. “Yes, he was one of the greats. But he was a very flawed great.”
    We are ALL flawed in some way, Cathar. We’re just more aware of the flaws of famous people because of the media attention.
    James Brown had a hard life, born poor and basically orphaned at the age of 4. I cut him some slack.

  10. Miss Martta, the Lord cuts people some slack. Thus I assume James Brown is doing some penitential time. The days when someone would merely be fined (barely over a thou, Brown probably spent that on pocket squares monthly) for threatening a spouse (well, a semi-spouse, it seems) that “I’ll kill you, you *@#****@#”, because he was a celebrity, after all, are hopefully long gone.
    Many people are born poor, even orphaned. Such conditions are not an unconditional pass to the House of Glory, celebrity status or no. And since Reverend Al (speaking of, uh, very “flawed” sorts) seems already to have admitted James Brown to Paradise, let us comparably go slow here. It may be too late to shut him up, but let’s not encourage him anyway.
    No matter how long it takes, after all, I think Jackie Wilson and Clyde McPhatter (two much, much better singers) will wait for James Brown to join them in a trio “up there.”

  11. Please stop the canonizing of James Brown. Why was the suburbs fascination with this less than talented singer/dancer or whatever he was? If you were at a wedding/party/dance etc from the 70s onward and a James Brown song came all the white folk got up and started dancin with their white man overbite going strong.
    I saw him live and didn’t understand it. He couldn’t sing and his ‘soul’ seemed to me like a contrived act. Gregg Allman sings with soul.

  12. Ice, you know I love ya but I would bet my bottom dollar that Gregg Allman (and other white blues folks) listened to a few James Brown tunes in his early life.
    True story: Someone in my college dorm in freshman year was playing a Rolling Stones song called “I Don’t Mind.” I told him that I loved that song, but that I liked the James Brown version better. He thought I was full of it, saying, “James Brown? He never did this song!” Sure enough, I went and got my album and proved him wrong.

  13. Iceman, one of the great lessons from James Brown’s career to some is that he worked his way UP from playing 5-6 shows a day at places like the Apollo (where he surely first used that rigid “45 minutes and out!” system out of sheer necessity) to playing but ONE such short show a night to white suburbanites, but for the same or even greater money. (God is good, no?)
    He could, in other words, sing “Livin’ In America” with a straight face. And face it, he was a pretty damn good entertainer, with an amazingly tight, well-rehearsed band. We really shall not see his likes again, even potentialities like Bobby Brown trail far, far behind.

  14. c’mon folks, soul isn’t a feeling you order from a store or copy from someone. It’s who you are inside. But hey, it’s all subjective so let him rest in peace.

  15. Same old crew, slapping each other around with the same old barbs!
    There is no need to canonize JB, or anybody else. But what James Brown did – the beat, the band, the dance, the style – was unlike anything that anyone had ever seen or heard before. He started makin it funky in the early 1950s (!!! when Gregg Allman was wearing diapers) and kept on doing it (yes, repetively) until the day before he died. But he was a MASTER of his art, and although there are many imitators and descendants, none can match the show that JB put on. Though there were albums galore, JB’s rep was built on live shows, and it was to his fans that he always delivered.
    RIP, JB. Thanks for the Academy of Music, 1983; sassy dance and the splits, pushin back the cape for one more “can you say Yeah!.”

  16. Speak no ill of the dead, as they say. Ford always seemed like a fairly innoccuous guy to me; yes, he pardoned Nixon, but that wasn’t such a crime in my book (and you know I am an ardent liberal). To me, it was his way of allowing the country to move on from the bitterness left by the Watergate affair. If he hadn’t pardoned Nixon, the country would have continued to be mired in the whole scandal.
    As for James Brown, not my favorite music but no denying he was one of the greats and very influential to many other singers and songwriters. May they both rest in peace.
    Last, who is the third one to go? The other shoe hasn’t dropped. There are always three famous people in a row who die! Maybe it will be Saddam since he is scheduled for execution in the next 30 days. Would he count?

  17. I cannot comment direclty since it is difficult for me to believe ina concept such as heaven or hell. May we all burn in it or revel in it, I guess.

  18. I cannot comment directly since it is difficult for me to believe in a concept such as heaven or hell. May we all burn in it or revel in it, I guess.
    This is the proofread version. My apologies or penance if there are more spelling errors here.

  19. RIP James Brown
    The CD of JB II is priceless and is no longer manufactured. If you can get it on ebay it is well worth the $5-10 bid.
    Features Maceo Parker and is a great intro to James Brown for anyone.

  20. Cathar, I know you despise Rev. Sharpton to the point that you believe nothing he says, but the reason James Brown had time for him was because Sharpton in his early 20s was tour manager for JB in the 1970s — and I must say does a fabulous impression.
    While delving into R&B roots, it should be noted that a woman from Montclair named Marion Post Wolcott in 1939 traveled to the Deep South to document life there during the Great Depression. While doing so she visited Clarksdale, Mississippi and captured snapshots of the free-spirited emerging culture, one of which hangs in my office titled “Jitterbugging on a Saturday Night in a Juke Joint.”
    I deel sorry for the Iceman. If you don’t feel JB’s music moving your groin to your toes, you have only lived half a life. Allman Brothers is only foreplay.

  21. That you believe ANYTHING Reverend Al says, Let Them…, makes me “deel sorry” too. But I think he also does a fabulous impression of a race-baiter, anti-Semite, bogus preacher and FBI informant.
    I have, however, as fate has it, been to Clarksdale (where Morgan Freeman has invested a lot of money lately). It’s a good place to visit and to be from.

  22. And I’ll meet you at the station.
    (but you’ve got to be there by 4:30.)
    Cathar, i must disagree on your list of artists ‘each as influential’ as James Brown. Robert Johnson yes, though he’s not from ‘the last 50 years,’ having died in the ’30s. The rest each made contributions, but none singularly had the sweeping influence JB had on today’s music. I love them, Muddy especially, and yes they made great recordings that were made maps for the ‘white rockers.’ But that stream is getting drier and drier, while the funk-slingers and hip-hoppers whom James set loose are busy ruling popular music.
    As for Iceman – everyone has his own taste, and you’re entitled to yours. But just so you know: your taste is lame.

  23. “deel sorry” is a Welsh-Baristan contraction for “deeply feel sorry.”
    If you haven’t caught James Hunter from England he brings back the spirit of 1972 R&B.

  24. Ruling or ruining popular music, sleepsleekly?
    So many of James Brown’s “lyrics” were either sparse or nonsensical, and that part has certainly caught on. It’s not that far from “Hot Pants!!” to “Hey Ya,” alas. And may I add Chuck Berry to my list? Close enough at least to the Mississippi River in his origins, after all. (But then, so is Jimmy Connors.)
    LetThem…, I laughed and bow to your command of the Welsh-Baristan Celtic tongue apparently spoken in your particular corner of Baristaville. But I’ve only read of James Hunter (ashamedly, I subscribe to Rolling Stone, and every issue only makes me feel like a geezer reading stuff by folks even more geezer-like than I’ll ever be), never heard him.

  25. sleepysleek,
    When and where were you bestowed the arbiter of musical taste? James Brown was an one note wonder. Obviously, he had a much bigger influence than I gave him credit. But hey, it’s all about what you like and I didn’t like his music. But I did and will continue to dance to “Living in America”.
    Really, did JB ever sing anything as soulfull as Gregg Allman on ‘Stormy Monday’?
    RIP, JB

  26. And here’s the rub…Dion vs James Hunter vs Ike Turner vs Tab Benoit vs Duke Robillard…in the Grammy’s this year:
    Category 65 – Best Traditional Blues Album
    (Vocal or Instrumental.)
    Brother To The Blues
    Tab Benoit With Louisiana’s Leroux
    [Telarc Blues]
    Bronx In Blue
    [Razor & Tie]
    People Gonna Talk
    James Hunter
    Guitar Groove-A-Rama
    Duke Robillard
    [Stony Plain Records]
    Risin’ With The Blues
    Ike Turner
    [Zoho Roots]

  27. Cathar – I agree that Chuck Berry is in JB’s neighborhood in terms of lasting influence.
    But putting down James for his sparse, nonsensical lyrics is like putting down a Maclaren for its bad gas mileage. that’s just not what the experience is about.
    As to whether James’s musical progeny are ruling or ruining pop music: Think back to when Maybelline was a new song. You must have heard plenty of crusty old guys complaining that Chuck Berry and his contemporaries were ruining popular music. Now you’re one of those guys. Your codger flag is flying.
    Iceman — When and where was I bestowed the arbiter of musical taste? Early December of 1976, in Washington DC . It was one of Gerald Ford’s last official acts as president.
    RIP, Gerry.

  28. Smileysmirk, I never heard “any crusty old guys” decrying Chuck Berry back in the day. And if they’d dared say anything against him, I would have blocked their ignorant voices out.
    But just because there is a cult of the new does not yet mean any of “the new” has lasting value. Try as I might, I simply cannot see people having their first wedding waltz to anything by, say, Tupac or Biggie Smalls or the Geto Boyz. (It’d certainly have to be a vastly more obscenity-laden nuptial rite than I’m used to; even my favorite Guns ‘N’ Roses song is the Skyliners remake they did.) So while you may be a musical neophiliac, I am not, and the reasons why don’t have a thing to do with our respective ages. It is thusly not a “codger flag” (is yours comparatively a “whelp flag?”), and has more to do with my general respect for both the English language and vocal and instrumental talent than mere age-driven divagations. Snoop Dogg and his progeny are not, unlike the Drifters and even Johnny Mathis, for the ages. That the New York Times’ reviewers regularly tie themselves into verbal knots trying to assert otherwise proves nothing, and even fan publications like The Source and Vibe seem to me to at best skirt the very edges of clear writing and even general literacy. If this is the “future,” as I gather you claim, then I look forward to being a crusty old, unhearing guy with regard to such musical excrescences.

  29. JB was a force, pure & simple. As much an entertainer as a singer, no denying it. Not the most admirable person off stage, but that’s true of more than a few artists of all stripes. And maybe that’s why he was known as the Godfather rather than the King Of Soul.
    I always preferred Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke & Solomon Burke. (Does anyone else see a pattern here?) But you couldn’t deny that James Brown just oozed soul in a cold sweat.

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