James Brown

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James Brown in concert (2005)

James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933December 25, 2006), commonly referred to as "The Godfather of Soul" and "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business", was an American entertainer recognized as one of the most influential figures in 20th century popular music. He was renowned for his shouting vocals, feverish dancing and unique rhythmic style.


  • Don't terrorize. Organize. Don't burn. Give kids a chance to learn … The real answer to race problems in this country is education. Not burning and killing. Be ready. Be qualified. Own something. Be somebody. That's Black Power.
  • A colored is a very frightened-to-death Afro-American. A Negro is one that makes it in the system, and he wants to be white. A nigger, he's loud and boisterous, wants to be seen. Nobody likes a nigger. A black man has pride. He wants to build, he wants to make his race mean something. Wants to have a culture and art forms. And he's not prejudiced. I am a black American man. Now you go ahead and print it.
    • On personal identity (1982) — as quoted in "Funk's founding father," Rolling Stone Magazine, 2007-01-10.
  • Hair is the first thing. And teeth the second. Hair and teeth. A man got those two things he's got it all.
  • It doesn't matter how you travel it, it's the same road. It doesn't get any easier when you get bigger, it gets harder. And it will kill you if you let it."
  • Sometimes you struggle so hard to feed your family one way, you forget to feed them the other way, with spiritual nourishment. Everybody needs that.
  • When I'm on stage, I'm trying to do one thing: bring people joy. Just like church does. People don't go to church to find trouble, they go there to lose it.
  • To make it in life, you and your wife need to be in the same business. That has been my problem all along. My wives didn't know what I was doing. I would come back home from the road to a stranger. That's no good.
    • Brown, J. & Tucker, B. (2003). James Brown: The Godfather of Soul, p. 266. Thunder's Mouth Press: New York. ISBN 1-56025-388-6
  • I would warn against anyone marrying a person with more than a ten-year age difference. It almost never works. It is difficult to find things to talk about, to use similar reference points, and to operate at the same speed of life. Another problem is that both sides usually don't want the same things at the same time.
    • Brown, J. & Eliot, M. (2005). I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul , pp. 247-248. New American Library: New York. ISBN 0-45121-393-9
  • This is an issue couples have to be straight on and agree on before they walk down that aisle; otherwise there is no way their marriage will survive.
    • On having children — as quoted in Brown, J. & Eliot, M. (2005). I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life of Soul, p. 248. New American Library: New York. ISBN 0-45121-393-9
  • I'm the most sampled and stolen. What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine, too … I got a song about that … But I'm never gonna release it. Don't want a war with the rappers. If it wasn't good, they wouldn't steal it.
    • "Being James Brown," Rolling Stone Magazine, 2006-06-12.
  • I'm going away tonight.
    • Last words as quoted by James Brown to Charles Bobbit, his longtime personal manager, just minutes before death on December 25 2006

Song lyrics

  • Try me. Try me.
    And your love will always be true.
    Oh I need you (I need you).
    Hold me. Hold me.
    I want you right here by my side.
    Hold me. Hold me.
    And your love we won't hide.
  • Come here sister... Papa's in the swing.
    He ain't too hip... about that new breed babe.
    He ain't no drag,
    Papa's got a brand new bag.
  • When I hold you in my arms,
    I know that I can't do no wrong.
    And when I hold you in my arms,
    My love can't do me no harm.

    And I feel nice, like sugar and spice
    I feel nice, like sugar and spice.
    So nice, so nice, well I got you.

  • When you kiss me,
    And ya miss me.
    You hold me tight,
    Make everything all right.
    I break out - in a cold sweat heh!
  • Our love is kind of stalled, baby.
    But it ain't about the sex.
    I'd trade the roses and the negligees
    If we could just connect.
    I go deeper when you look into my eyes.
    There's a place where neither one of us can hide.
    And it's up to us to reinvent the game.
    Love it when you call my name.
  • Look a'here, some people say we got a lot of malice
    Some say it's a lotta nerve
    I say we won't quit moving
    Til we get what we deserve.
    We've been 'buked and we've been scourned
    We've been treated bad, talked about
    As just as sure as you're born
    But just as sure as it take
    Two eyes to make a pair, huh
    Brother, we can't quit until we get our share.

    Say it loud,
    I'm black and I'm proud.

  • Get up,
    Get on up.
    Stay on the scene.
    Get on up,
    Like a Sex Machine.
    Get on up,
    Get up.
    Shake your arm,
    Then use your form.
    Stay on the scene, like a Sex Machine.
    You gotta have the feeling,
    Sure as you're born.
  • Watch me … watch me!
    I got it!
    Watch me … I got it.

    I got somethin' that makes me wanna shout.
    I got somethin' that tells me what it's all about.
    Huh, I got soul and I'm super bad!

Quotes about James Brown

  • The American black person knows something which nobody else in the world knows. To have been where we were, to have paid the price we have paid, to have survived, and to have shaken up the world the way we have is a rare journey. No one else has made it but us. There is a reason that people are listening to James Brown, Nina Simone, and Aretha Franklin all over the world, and not to somebody from Moscow, Turkey, or England. And the reason is not in our crotch but in our heart, our soul. It's something the world denied and lied about, energy they labeled savage, inferior, and insignificant. But it has been proven that no matter what they labeled it, they cannot do without it.
    • 1970 interview in Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Louis H. Pratt and Fred L. Standley (1989)
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