I’m assuming that by now, most of you have heard of
James Brown’s passing. The hardest working man in show business, on his deathbed, was still urging doctors to let him perform on New Year’s Eve. It’s that spirit, that energy, that sense of respect for the music and performance that made him The Godfather of Soul.
He was the American Idol when Simon Cowell was still in short pants and learning how to spell “deplorable”. Brown’s fingerprints are all over contemporary urban music and his live performances will always be the measuring stick against which other live performances are measured.
After the kids opened their presents yesterday morning and got them powered up, I moved over to the computer to get some news the way I usually do. And while the computer is a great way to get sports scores, weather forecasts, factual information, and just about anything else you may be looking for, it is still a cold place to find an obituary. Perhaps it’s because nobody is really looking for that, but there it shows up right next to “10 Tips for Holiday Leftovers” as if the two are in some way of equal importance.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been a musician for 20 years and most of my heroes are also musicians. And maybe I should be getting used to learning of my heroes’ deaths this way, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’m still stunned and left looking for a little more than the ones and zeroes offer up. It happened with Joey and Johnny Ramone. It happened with Layne Staley. It happened with George Harrison. It happened with Dimebag Darrell. And now, James Brown.
While I still turn to the ‘net for most things, including advancing my own musical growth, I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the vacuous way it conveys information that affects humans on a personal level, from natural disasters like Katrina and the tsunami of 2004, to the ravages of war in Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere, to the passing of the popular figures who aspire us to be better than we are.
Perhaps it’s better if I don’t get used to it.
In closing, I’ll just say rest in peace, Godfather.