I grew up listening to James Brown when he was already a legend.
He was The Godfather of Soul and such a powerfully understood image that Eddie Murphy's skit on Saturday Night Live needed no explanation as it pay tribute to the hardest working man in music through the language of laughter.
It is James Brown that I think of now, having learned of his death Christmas day. I'm thinking of the man who gave his sweat, human and raw while somehow brilliant even in the embrace of his flaws.
I remember the words that raw voice of soul sang out to me.
Now we demand a chance to do things for ourself
We're tired of beatin' our head against the wall
And workin' for someone else
The thrill of hearing them and the almost tragic shock that came with it, so rare was the language of empowerment.
We're people, we're just like the birds and the bees
We'd rather die on our feet
Than be livin' on our knees
The music of James Brown didn't ask, it demanded.
Made you rise up from your seat, didn't it?
Say it loud,
I'm black and I'm proud
Soul Brother Number One...
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