JAMES BROWN, 1933 to ...

James Brown is gone at seventy-three, relatively young but still a long time for someone who drove himself to exhaustion in his professional and private life—they chased him through three states, once-- and still held his head high as The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.

He had a good death, if there is such a thing. He’d worked more than 100 shows the last year of his life, celebrated his annual toy give-away for children on Friday, had a cough that worried his dentist on Saturday, entered the hospital with pneumonia Christmas Eve and had slipped away by Christmas Day.

I will always love him for the performances when he was so exhausted by a song, so overcome with emotion he had to helped off the stage, with a friend draping his coat around his shoulders and helping James stagger off under the weight of his loss— but no! He has more to say! He can’t hold back! He throws off their support and staggers back to center stage, falls to his knees, screaming OHBABY PLEASE!— howling his cri de coeur to lost love, still melodic, still heartfelt, still funky, a shriek to make Orpheus and the Bacchantes envy his skill, too much for mortal man, collapsing again, soaked with sweat, lifted again by his crew like a deposition from the cross of human feeling, still trying to sing, staggering off the stage, blind with anguish maybe but each step keeping time with the music...

“Howl, dogs, for a Wolf has died this day.”

2 comments:

Stewart Sternberg said...

I just watched a dvd rented from netflix. Allow me to give it a Stewart recommendation. It's called: "A Night of Supersoul". It was filmed a few years back at the Taboo nightclub in Detroit. The primary talent is Mr. Brown, the hardest working man in show business, and backing him up: Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker, and Lady Soul, Aretha Franklin.

I love watching concert dvds...and besides this one, if you want to enjoy another James Brown entertainment, try James Brown at the House of the Blues. Excellent.

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

As a child of Michigan like myself, you might also know of Watts Club Mozambique, immortalized with a shoot-out in one of Elmore Leonard's books...their ads, like those of the Shrimp Shack, were one of the highlights of the New Dance Show.

Some people drop names of celebrities. We drop names of dives.

Brother Dynamite was scheduled to appear at B.B. King's in New York over New Year's weekend (there was already a schedule and illustration in the New Yorker this week), and I hear today that New Yorkers have been leaving items for an impromptu shrine like the ones in Georgia.