Category: The Daily Loper

Certain Songs #723: James Brown – “I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door, I’ll Get It Myself)”

james_brown-i_dont_want_nobody_to_give_me_nothing_s_1 Album: Star Time!
Year: 1969

It doesn’t matter whether James Brown came up with or allowed himself to be called “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.” In fact, it doesn’t matter whether or not he was: I mean, how do you actually rate that? Is there some kind of show business work scale? Or Top Ten List?

And note that he wasn’t just the hardest-working man in Soul or the hardest-working man in Music. Nope: James Motherfucking Brown was the hardest working man in all of Show Business! He worked harder than Lucille Ball and Jimmy Stewart and Jerry Lee Lewis. He worked harder than Willie Mays and Walter Cronkite and Norman Mailer.

Sure, you could choose to go to a film; watch the television; listen to the radio; see a play; see another concert; watch a ball game; go to a magic show; watch a stand-up comic or a mime or go to the circus. But why even bother? It doesn’t matter: compared to James Brown all of those others are just slackers and posuers. They will not work nearly as hard as he does for your entertainment dollar.

It was a great crossover move because who wouldn’t want to see a performance by the hardest working man in all of Show Business? It’s right there: he’s going to give more than anybody else you’ve ever seen!! How can you resist that? You can’t.

It was, of course, that reputation that informed an empowerment anthem like “I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door, I’ll Get It Myself)”, where Brown tells the world that he don’t want nobody to give him nothing.

But he does need that door opened, of course. Probably just a crack, though, is all somebody like James Brown needs.

And when that door is opened, Brown struts in, anchored by a solid pre-disco bassline, swirling horns and a chittering syncopated drumbeat, and just takes what he wants.

Out of all of Brown’s black pride anthems, I prefer this to “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” mostly because I fucking hate children’s choirs.

“I Don’t Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door, I’ll Get It Myself)”

Every Certain Song Ever
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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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Certain Songs #722: James Brown – “Get it Together”

james_brown-_i_cant_stand_myself_when_you_touch_me Album: I Can’t Stand Myself When You Touch Me
Year: 1967

James Brown was absolutely on fire in 1967.

And on no song did that fire burn hotter than the absolutely scorching “Get It Together,” which takes the super funky groove of songs like “Cold Sweat” and then ups the tempo to a ridiculous degree.

Drummer John “Jabo” Starks is almost supernatural throughout: simultaneously driving hard and laying off his snare during the verses and then steering into the curve by doubling hard on the choruses.

Meanwhile, guitarist Jimmie Nolen is killing it on the rhythm guitar, squeezing in a rapid-fire flurry of chords in and around the long horn vamps that anchor the song.

Of course, the actual song part only lasts a couple of minutes — just long enough for the obligatory “Part one” of the single. After that is where the action really starts, as Brown — having as much fun in the studio as anyone has ever — gives us a glimpse into just how fucking awesome his band is.

First, of course, is the obligatory solo by Maceo Parker, but after that is an amazing section where he has the whole band slam together one, two, three, four times without missing a beat.

And as he explains to us:

If you hear any noise
It’s just me and the boys
So everybody be mellow
Somebody might drop their
Horn and things like that
But don’t worry about that

Of course, nobody is fucking dropping their horn, because they know that Brown’s great mood would turn to shit before it even hit the ground, but it’s so much fun to hear him basically deconstruct his entire sound in real time, with the rest of the musicians responding to him verbally all the while keeping the ridiculous groove at the insane tempo.

Instead:

There’s something
I wanna say right here
Now when I say uh
I want you to hit me one time
Do you hear me?
(Yeah!)
Lemme hear you
(Yeah!)
Do you hear me? Do you hear me?
(Yeah! Yeah!)
Jabo, do you hear me?
(Yeah!)
Now when I say uh, one time
You say uh, ready?
(Yeah!)
One time!

BAM!

Uh, good God, ha
Now I’m gonna ask for two
Can you give me two?
(Yeah!)
Can I get two
(Yeah!)
two times?”

BAM! BAM!

I gotta say it three times
Can I get three fellows?
(Yeah!)
Three times

BAM! BAM! BAM!

Uh, good god!
Now if I ask for four
Is it possible I can get four?
(Yeah!!)
If I can get four
I got to open the door and leave
(Yeah!)
I can get four, gimme four

BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!

Good God!!

Meanwhile, Maceo just keeps soloing, bouncing off of all of the stop times and eventually walking through the door that James Brown opened up to leave. But, of course, Brown doesn’t leave quite yet, instructing nearly all of the musicians through quick solos before finally walking out of the studio, cackling, as the song fades.

“Get it Together”

“Get it Together” performed live in Boston, 1968

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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Certain Songs #721: James Brown – “Cold Sweat”

james-brown-cold-sweat Album: Cold Sweat
Year: 1967

Everything is percussion. That, of course, is the formal innovation of James Brown’s mid-1960s funk: to treat every single instrument in the room as a percussion instrument.

And with its stop-start horns, bass, and drums, and of course the chickenscratch guitars of Jimmy Nolen and Country Kellum, “Cold Sweat” might be the epitome of that innovation.

While “Cold Sweat” was broken down into “Parts 1 & 2” for both the 45 — which was #1 R&B and #7 pop — and the album, it really has four sections: initial verses, sax solo, drum solo, closing verse.

On the initial verses, all of those percussion instruments are playing off of each other — listen to how the horns give room to the bass over and over again — always threatening to fall apart if even one of the guys misses a single note. But of course they don’t, and Brown gets to scream and plead and cajole at his latest love interest:

I don’t care
HA!
About your past
I just want
HOW!
our love to last
EH!
I don’t care darlin’
About your faults
HUH!
I just want to satisfy your pulse

As he leads up to the chorus, the band starts getting together — doubling down on the one before every line — until it all climaxes as Brown screams the stop-time chorus.

“I wake up!”

WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!

“In a cold sweat!”

WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!

“Hah!”

BAP! BAP! WHAM!

Then after the second chorus, it’s solo time, as Brown calls for Maceo Parker to dialog with him on the sax. And while Maceo tunnels in and around the beat, Brown interjects random grunts, moans and boogaloos, and eventually “to give the drummer some”

And at that point drummer Clyde Stubblefield — backed by bassist Bernard Odum nearly the entire time — takes a long, extended solo without even once losing the funk. Not even close. Brown’s so impressed that he barely interjects. Well, he still does, but not so much that future samplers didn’t have a wealth of material to work with.

Eventually, Brown goes back in to the verse, with everybody on point once again, but after the verse, instead of resolving with the stop time part one last time, he instructs the band to “keep it right there” and lets loose with an absolutely stunning vocal performance:

When you kiss meeeeeeee
LOOOOOHOOEHAOAAWWWWWWW
When you kiss meeeeee
LOOOEOAUUUUUAAAGGGGHHHAD
When you kiss meeeeee
LOOOEOAUUUUUAAAGGGGHHHAD
NOOOOOOOHOOOHHOOOOO!
AUUUUUUUUDIDIIOOOSOD!
OHHHHHHHHAAAAAAHHHHHH!
I just I just can’t stop singing!
I can’t stop singing baby!
OOOOOHHHHHHHH OHHHHHHH

By the end of the song, he’s screaming in registers that dogs can’t even hear, like he’s lost every single one of his faculties and all he can do is howl and howl and howl and howl.

And with was what probably a wink at the rest of the band, they slam the song home, ready to work on the next one.

The amazing thing about “Cold Sweat” is that for all of the intensity, the song itself moves not at warp speed, but more of a mid-tempo strut, taking it’s goddamn time to get where its going because it has so much confidence we’re all dying to find out where that is.

“Cold Sweat”

“Cold Sweat” performed live in Paris, 1967

Every Certain Song Ever

A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
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Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page