Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sing It Motherf*cker, Sing It!

RIP JBThere's a gazillion other JB tributes out there - many of them YouTube videos (I defer, as always, to O-Dub), which is easy to understand, given that the man was as much a visual experience as he was a sonic one - and I don't have anything more authoritative to add. I always liked this little story from the recording of Live At the Apollo though:

"As the show went along I started noticing little things and filing them away in my mind. Every now and then the band made a mistake or the Flames were a half tone off. Sometimes I hollered where I usually didn't in the song, and some of the audience down front was too enthuasiastic. A little old lady down front kept yelling, 'Sing it motherfucker, sing it!' She looked like she must have been seventy-five years old. I could hear her the whole time and knew the overhead crowd mike was right above her. Mr. Neely had strung it on a wire between the two side balconies. Most times none of those things would've mattered, but we were recording and I was thinking, 'Oh Lord, this take's ruined.

"During a quiet stretch of 'Lost Someone' the woman let out a loud scream, and the audience laughed right in the middle of this serious song. I thought 'Well, there goes that song, too.' Then I thought I had better try and fix it some kind of way so I started preaching: 'You know we all make mistakes sometimes, and the only way we can correct our mistakes is we got to try one more time. So I got to sing this song to you one more time.' I stretched out the song, hoping we could get something we could use; then I went into 'Please.'

"Mr. Neely brought the tape into a back room between the first two shows and played it for us on a little tape recorder. As soon as we heard the little old lady, we all busted out laughing. He didn't understand. All he could hear was her high piercing voice, but he didn't really understand what she was saying even though it was as clear as a bell. Finally somebody told him. Then he understood...

"He was getting all worked up, while all the cats were listening to it over and over, laughing, having a great time, and getting other cats to listen to it. After a while, watching everybody carry on, Mr. Neely settled himself down and said, 'Hey, maybe we've got something here.'

"He found the lady down front and told her he'd buy her candy and popcorn and give her $10 if she'd stay for the other three shows - he didn't tell her why. He moved the overhead mike so it wouldn't pick her up so strong. We were using two-track, which meant practically mixing as we went along. She stayed for the next three shows and hollered the same thing every time I did a spin or something she liked. It was like it was on cue. I think the shows got even better as the day went along...."

(from The Godfather of Soul by James Brown with Bruce Tucker)

No comments:

Post a Comment