Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Silent Night
2006-12-25 15:54
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

"Many people just believe that I can't get sick, or they refuse to accept the fact that my body gets tired like everyone else. Well, I do sometimes, but there are so many people who depend on me for inspiration and support that if I wanted to get sick or slow down...I just can't. I just can't afford to slow down."
James Brown

James Brown's body finally gave in and he died today of pneumonia at the age of 73. It is safe to say that there will never be another one like him. Brown was a legendary performer and one of the most influencial musicians of the past fifty years.

Unlike nearly everyone else in the greater soul community for whom the success of any soul artist was another rung up the ladder...James Brown was a Solo Man who forged ahead on his own, who, far from negotiating any kind of compromise solution to reach a broader audience, demanded that that very audience sit up and listen to what he had to say. There is no question he was ill mannered in his insistence, and that he was resented for it. Solomon Burke dismissed him as not a proper soul singer at all, and his own all-black band referred to him privately as "that greasy nigger," but he was not to be denied. Long after Ray Charles had left the parochial world of sould and Sam Cooke was on the verge of Las Vegas bookings and Hollywood success, James Brown alone, a contemporary of both Charles and Cooke, was still out there toiling in the vineyards, singing self-created music that increasingly left both the idea of accommodation and the old tired formulations of r&b behind. Perhaps this is why he was called 'our number one black poet' by LeRoi Jones and hailed in 1969 as possibly 'the most important black man in America' by Look magazine (as well as gaining attention from SNCC leaders Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown). His music reached out with revolutionary fervor to a New Breed audience of blacks and whites. It was a militant culturally as any Black Panter political manifesto, without ever abandoning the past or its original audience. For James Brown remained firmly rooted in a sense of self and a sense of tradition that Black America had not always known that it had.

Peter Guralnick from, "Sweet Soul Music"

The Godfather of Soul is gone. Rest in Peace. Then get up off that thing, and shake your ass. It's what the old man would want.

2006-12-25 16:24:45
1.   Aviezer
Shotgun, Yippie.
2006-12-25 16:42:36
2.   Aviezer
Seriously, the RJ trade. Everyone is reporting it, and to me it seems like a big opportunity. Arizona is stacked with prospects and our system needs position players. If Cash can get Miguel Montero plus Micah Owings I would go for it, otherwise not. Zips projects RJ to be really good next year, and they were the best for projecting pitchers last year. I would much rather trade Pavano at the end of spring training for Nick Johnson or someone else. If RJ stays our rotation has the potential to be really good next year.
2006-12-25 16:44:44
3.   BklynBmr
Thanks for the post, Alex, and a perfect cherce of excerpt as well. Given the day, I have a feeling you'll be adding more thoughts when you have time, but yeah — they just don't make 'em like that anymore. Soul Brother #1 is gone. Our loss, but Heaven just got a little more interesting. R.I.P. James, and condolences to your loved ones.
2006-12-25 16:55:02
4.   Simone
RIP, James.
2006-12-25 17:08:59
5.   randym77
2 Alex posted a thread about the rumored RJ trade:

2006-12-25 19:40:52
6.   Dimelo
"Stay on the scene, (get on up), like a sex machine, (get on up)"
2006-12-25 19:43:26
7.   Raf
Wow, Curtis a couple of years ago, James Brown today. Wow, just wow.

When Fireball Roberts died, someone said something to the extent of "it's like waking up, and finding a mountain gone." This is the same thing.

Also something that seemed to be overlooked, the death of Mike Evans, who played Lionel Jefferson on both All in the Family & The Jeffersons.

Both will be missed.

2006-12-25 21:48:42
8.   mikeplugh
James Brown was one of the most important figures in the Golden Era of hip hop as well. In the late 80's and early 90's there was no musician more sampled than James Brown. His baselines and vocals were an integral part of what made rap the force that it has become.

I think Method Man is probably more sampled than James Brown since that time, but it's important to note that Brown had an impact on American culture for the better part of 5 decades and perhaps should be remembered in the same breath as the Beatles in terms of transforming American culture.

2006-12-26 05:12:42
9.   The Mick 536
Saw James Brown at the Palestra in the late 60's. Unforgettable.

But as death goes, hows aboud the obit on Cecil Travis. Neva heard of him. On the ballot for the Hall this year. Finished between Ted and Joe D in 1941. Had 218 hits and batted .359. One of only two players to have had a five hit debut. More importantly, he gave up his talent in the war, or so it was said. Christy did too.

They don't make the players fight anymore, do they? The Mick claimed he had osteo/something to stay out of Korea. Willie and Ted went. Joe played ball at the front, while MM entertained the troops. Whood ya rather see?

A-Rod should book a trip to the Emerald city. Do great things for his rep.

For JB, I be black and proud.

2006-12-26 05:39:42
10.   Alex Belth
Without James Brown, Hip Hop wouldn't sound like it has. But more than that, Brown's own music anticipated Hip Hop. I think what is remarkable about Brown's mature years as an artist is that his style was one that evolved over many years of playing on the road. It's not like he was some 20-year old genius who came out of nowhere with a style.

But what he did was take a one-bar loop and extend it. I mean, all of those records are what, 6-9 minutes long, right? He understood that we, as listeners, love repetition, understood the hypnotic effect of it. He also turned every instrument into a percussive tool. And as simple or minimal as the instrumentation on his records may seem, if you take away one element--the guitar or the horns, the records fall apart. I mean, he really knew what he was doing.

And lookit, it's not only Hip Hop, but virtually all music today that is based on looping one bar of music. Heck, once technology caught up in the eighties, the equiptment became geared towards it.

And that all goes back to James Brown. Nobody made an artform out of that stripped-down thinking until he did it. And it wasn't a combination of direct influences (as you get when Ray Charles mixed Latin rhythms over blues chord changes, or where the Beatles later took r&b and rock and roll in the studio with George Martin)--it was something he developed himself. Which is why you can argue that he's the MOST influencial musician today.

2006-12-26 05:47:25
11.   Jimmy Clark
James Brown was indeed a legend. In some ways similar to Bob Dylan. Not a great voice but great at using it, with a strong desire to do things his way.
Mantle did have osteomyelitis and failed three Army physicals because of it. That was not enough to satisfy his critics who said "you don't have to kick anyone in the army". You do have to be ready to hike 15-20 miles a day.
2006-12-26 07:01:16
12.   Raf
9 And you won't see players fighting anymore, not without the draft, or players enlisting. IIRC there are some players in the minors who are part of the National Guard, but I don't remember who they are.
2006-12-26 07:13:49
13.   The Mick 536
So I got it. We will go back to the Viet Nam model. Only those who couldn't get out or who were the true believers went. As for the former, Hawks, we called them, they were fed a load of gunk that made them believe they were stemming the fall of dominoes. As for the latter, well let Coppolla tell the tale. Now we will have those who don't have anything else to do and haven't given life a thought takin orders from those with proven R credentials. Perhaps if we made the players go and stopped the seasons like they did in 1918, the war would end.

As for The Mick failing the physical, I wouldn't believe anything from the Webb/Topping team doctors. He could have sat in some office on the paralell or drank with the guys in the officer's mess.

2006-12-26 08:08:56
14.   Matt B
Alex, well said about JB. I'd put Brown alongside Dylan in that they didn't merely alter a musical form or style, but wound up having a larger, profound impact on culture and society.
2006-12-26 19:17:50
15.   vockins
One of the most influential musicians of the 20th century? He's the most influential. He was an incredible, once a century genius.

The link below is to a James Brown concert at Boston Garden on April 5th, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered. (It requires the divx plug in, which is worthless and should be removed after you watch the video, but this is the only video on earth I would ask this for) The concert is an amazing document of James Brown's power. It is essential viewing for any music fan.

(8:16 is mindbending)

2006-12-26 22:04:04
16.   Matt B
Well, I mean, the 20th Century did feature Louis Armstrong, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Igor Stravinsky, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Miles Davis, et al, so calling James Brown the most influential musician of the century is a bit of a stretch. I don't think that's any slight to James.

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