Monday, May 09, 2016

NEWSHOUR BOOKSHELF - "Kill ‘Em and Leave" James Brown

"You don’t have to search for James Brown’s musical influence" PBS NewsHour 5/4/2016


SUMMARY:  “Kill ‘Em and Leave” -- that was James Brown’s philosophy on stage, and it’s also the title of a new biography.  Author James McBride joins Jeffrey Brown to discuss the godfather of soul’s inner life and his under-appreciated influence on American music.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  He was the Godfather of Soul, an incredible entertainer, by any measure one of the most important and influential American musicians of the 20th century.

But who was James Brown, the man, and what shaped him?  Those questions are taken up by musician and writer James McBride, best known for his memoir “The Color of Water” and his National Book Award-winning novel “The Good Lord Bird.”

McBride’s new book is “Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul.”

We talked recently at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., a historic hall where James Brown regularly performed.

And I asked first about the power of Brown’s music.

JAMES MCBRIDE, Author, “Kill ‘Em and Leave”:  Well, there’s no music in America that you can listen to that doesn’t have some James Brown in it.

I mean, the whole creation of the synthesizers and these guitar parts and the beat, that was James Brown.  Elvis Presley shook America up, and James Brown shook the world up, because his whole persona was that of someone whose consumed by this music, this sound.

So, he was a phenomena.  And he was really seen as a kind of a scream at the end of the dial, where black radio lived.

JEFFREY BROWN:  A scream at the end of the dial?  Yes.

JAMES MCBRIDE:  Yes, he was this — he was — because everyone knows, “Wo, I feel good.”


JAMES MCBRIDE:  But, musically, he was very sophisticated.  There is a lot of counterpoint in James Brown’s music.

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