Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Man, a legend, a "way of life"?

A greater than life figure in American life has fallen silent. The Godfather of Soul has breathed his last. It is no surprise to many that James Brown, 73, would have succombed to a heart attack. His lifestyle in the past 20 years or so has not been one of moderation. His drug use alone would take its toll on a much younger man.

However, his affect on African-American music is the point of this short blog. How can we not wonder what the wholesome gospel music of the 50's, as sung by Brown and his "idol" Little Richard, might have become if it had not been changed to the angry angst-filled music heard from boom boxes and iPods everywhere today. James Brown did to the "Negro Spirituals" what Elvis Pressley did to the Gospel music of the Tennessee hills back in the 50's. As Gospel morphed to "rock and roll" and then to "hard rock" and beyond, Jazz morphed to "funk" and on to "rap" and "hip-hop."

And as went the music, so went the youth. The discipline that was in the music of the first half of the twentieth century (reflecting the "rules" of music as did classical music) gave way to the "freedom" of rock and hip-hop. Undisciplined life, fed by an increasingly godless society, has brought America to the brink of destruction.

Perhaps I will listen to my copy of Handel's Messiah one more time before the year is out! Now THAT'S what I call MUSIC!

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