The Godfather of Soul

by Jason Gross

15 February 2007


Finally!  A James Brown tribute for real, thanks to the good folks at 1st of the Month magazine.  This includes not only bookend poems by Amiri Baraka as well as thoughts and memories from Chuck D. and John Leland but also explicit and great essays from Charles O’Brien (about “Sex Machine”), Mel Watkins (about the show that became Live at the Apollo Vol II) and W.T. Lhamon Jr. (on a mid-80’s obscurity).  Also there’s this moving, spot-on observation from Watkins: “Like Aretha, Sam Cooke, and, later, Marvin Gaye, he was a both a symbol and personification of the grassroots black musical heritage that wielded such tremendous influence on America’s popular culture during the latter part of the 20th century.”  By comparison, most of the obits about JB covered the same routine ground about Brown’s life, never really capturing the magnitude of his achievements and accomplishments.

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