Sometimes, when you need something oracular, it comes to you. I've been chipping away at the James Brown book for a good long while, tiny bit by tiny bit, and getting frustrated that I was getting so close to deadline and it wasn't holding together. Then, yesterday morning, I opened a package somebody had sent Dark Beloved Cloud with a subscription to the singles club that had some of the most amazing cards I've seen so far. The best came from cutting up an Art Garfunkel LP into 3" x 3" squares, and decorating them in various media. And my absolute favorite (which I'm saving for myself) is unfortunately very hard to take a decent digital photograph of, or I'd post it here. But it's a square of, I assume, the Garfunkel album, into which the person who did it has scratched a little dialogue about Memphis, followed by a decent approximation of this picture.
Wow. Soul scrimshaw. I think I wrote 4000 words today, and even though it's not working yet, I think I'm reasonably close to figuring out a way to make it work.
Plus I transcribed the "Recitation by Hank Ballard" from JB's Get On the Good Foot, which is... well... here it is--imagine an over-the-hill R&B star who's been taken under the wing of a former disciple of his, looking at a sheet of song titles and monologuing over the instrumental track of an overproduced minor hit by said former disciple from three years earlier, occasionally taking a little break off-mic to do something that makes him slur his words a little more:
"The James Brown world. There it is--the James Brown world of music, folks. The lord of funk and his disciples. Oh, wow. Incredible, man, really incredible. Speakin' about this new album from James Brown on Polydor Records. I just finished digging on it, you know. He comes from all sides on this one. Like, each track take you from one bag to another. You know. He's lowdown... he's funky... he's sentimental... and the man is sad. Throughout the whole album, you'll find these elements of moods. And when you bag up that many moods, you've gotta reach a lot of souls, in some of the most remote areas. Music such as... Good Foot. The Whole World Needs Liberation. Your Love Was Good For Me. Cold Sweat. [pause] Nothing Beats A Try But A Fail. Lost Someone, Funky Side of Town--that's a little tune James, Bobby Byrd and myself did together, you know, like it's a real dirty, lowdown, get-down [mumble]... And then there's Please, Please, Please, like you never heard it before, you know, the all-time classic, Ain't It A Groove, Make It Funky... part 3 and 4... [pause] Heh. Incidentally, I'm Hank Ballard, the Love Side man. Rapping for you on the contents of James Brown's latest album... yeah. A living legend. That's what they call him, a living legend, and guess what, that's what the man is: a real, live, living legend. Yeah, after 18 years, he's still terrorizing the music world with his funky music. And judging from his new album, he's still on the good foot of his career. James Brown world. James Brown world of music. Oh well, he deserves to be in the galaxy of stars. But it wasn't easy for James from the beginning. He had to fight his way through a mean, vicious jungle, you know, the jungle of show business. It's vicious, I tell you, I mean, very vicious, actually, I know. And my advice to all newcomers is that if you're timid and looking for mercy stay on the road that leads to a more compassionate world. 'Cause this one I know will eat you up alive, brother. I mean, alive. Yeah, I got caught running around the graveyard of losers. [sigh] But I had an unshakeable determination that I was coming out: this is not my place, you know. So I came out and joined the James Brown production. [a very strange tone in his voice] James was the only one besides myself that had a strong belief in my talent. I knew he could formulate a groove that would put my style back into this galaxy, you know. [rousing himself] James Brown world, James Brown world of music! And wow, I'm glad I'm part of this world. So is Miss Lyn Collins. Mr. Bobby Byrd. Miss Vicki Anderson. Mr. Lee Austin. Mr. Charles Bobbitt. And of course Bob Both--Mr. Bob Both, that is. Miss Lynette Washington. Mr. Danny Ray. And of course Fred Wesley and the J.B.'s. There are a great many others, you know, that I really don't have time to run off, but it's, uh, quite a few in the James Brown world. [pause] Wow. James Brown world of music. My man, your man, people's man." [fade out]