Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"James Brown is Dead"

I"m sure every aging raver in the land did a double take when they heard that phrase for real on Christmas Day. I know I did, and I'm only good for the "aging" part of that particular job description.

Confession: I am actually writing this entry on New Year's Day, a full week after the sad news, and backdating it so it appears that I was a little more on the ball. But no matter when I finally got around to eulogizing the great man, I never could have composed anything as eloquent as the following blog posts:

*At the B Side, this very personal history of Brown's career, and
*this first-person account of the scene around the Apollo Theater this past weekend (both of which include, for the time being, MP3s of JB B-sides).
*The Fresh Air tribute to Brown, including interviews with the Godfather himself, the co-author of his autobiography, Maceo Parker, and Bootsy Collins.

I could swear there were more online tributes I've come across that I wanted to link to, but I'm having trouble remembering what and where they were now. That's what I get for not posting sooner.

Meanwhile, my personal tribute has taken the form of listening not so much to the classic funk stuff (or even to his wild Christmas album, which I kept meaning to pull out this past week, as I usually do every year), but to the 2-disc Roots of a Revolution compilation of earlier stuff. The party line on this material is that he hasn't quite found his unique voice yet, but I have no complaints whatsoever listening to him try and find it through r&b, countryish stuff, novelty songs, you name it. The track that stood out for me on this go-round was a silly/slang-y one called "That Dood It" that is pure fun. Not funk, just fun--and that's enough for me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Xmas (War is Over)

Ho, ho, ho, everybody. I am still immersed in way too many projects to count, which cumulatively cut down on my blogging time, but here's a holiday entry to note a few seasonal matters before the season itself melts away like Frosty:

1. From the pages of Entertainment Weekly, here's an interesting chronicle of the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". I've always been struck by the melancholy tone of this ditty, which is significantly more pronounced in its debut appearance in the film Meet Me in St. Louis. The article points out that the earliest version of the lyrics were even more of a downer (opening line: "Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last ...") until Judy Garland insisted that lyricist Hugh Martin lighten it up a little. Then Frank Sinatra had to come along and make the thing all happy happy joy joy.

2. For the last few years I've had a great time checking the MP3 blogs listed in that column over there on the right for holiday songs. Didn't get around to it this year till last night, but I found all kinds of stuff at Copy, Right? and Keep the Coffee Coming, plus a trippy extended "X-Mas Mix 2006" at Lemon-Red. Catch them all before they evaporate.

3. Finally, I have Beaucoup Kevin to thank for tipping me off to this sublime (and slightly melancholy) Pet Shop Boys appearance on some sort of Elton John holiday special from the year 2000:

Merry [holiday of choice], one and all!