“Gut Bucket” James Brown 2006
James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, would have been (by most counts) 78-years-old on May 3rd. This Christmas it will have been five years since he passed away and it’s pretty safe to say that the world has been the poorer for it. I don’t think it hyperbole to say that Brown was determination, strife, and life force personified—not to imply that he wasn’t crazier than a shit-house rat. At the time of his death at 73, he had been readying a new album and charging up to make yet another global tour, working to put insane multi-state police chases and PCP-driven rants behind him for good.
In 2005, Rolling Stone sent author Jonathan Lethem to Augusta, Georgia to infiltrate the rarified air of James Brown’s world and report back. He likens the arrival of Brown in the studio to a physics experiment, “Lines of force are suddenly visible in the air, rearranged, oriented. The band, the hangers-on, the very oxygen, every trace particle is charged in its relation to the gravitational field of James Brown.” Lethem posits a theory that in 1958, Brown, like Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, had become a man unstuck in time allowing him to know the future of music before it would have naturally occurred and then making it happen at will.
This track from an August 2006 sampler from MOJO magazine was to be a sneak preview of Brown’s next album that was to come out in early 2007. Whether or not there is a great, lost, last platter from The Minister of the New Super-Heavy Funk is anybody’s guess. Judging from the lack of focus laid bare by Lethem’s piece, I’d guess not, but there is always hope. If nothing else, Brown was all about hope.
We could use a guy like that.