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Wednesday, December 27, 2006


People have been asking me all week, "How did James Brown sound?"

I interviewed the "Godfather of Soul" via telephone for 10 minutes beginning a little after 4 p.m. EST on Dec. 21, four days before his death on Christmas Day at age 73.

To answer the question: No, James Brown did not sound ill. He was cordial, forthcoming and -- I wouldn't be the first to make this comment -- difficult for me to understand. His answers were brief, but there was some gold in there.

Q: Do you have any New Year's resolutions?
A: Yep. We got to learn to love each other.
Q: How's that going to happen? What's the next step?
A: Well, you keep on practicin' and keep on talkin' about it. I'd appreciate it if you keep talkin' about it.
Q: Sure, I'll bang the drum.
A: Well, bless you.

A little later, I brought up current events, but the topic veered to Christmas and family.

Q: What do you think of Barack Obama?
A: Well, I'm not gettin' into politics.
Q: But you're a patriotic person.
A: Mmm-hmm. I'm concerned about the world. But I would serve every president we got, because that's the president of the United States.
Q: What would you say to the troops?
A: I would like to pray for them. I hope they have a speedy recovery and they'll come home.
Q: What would you say to young people?
A: Well, that is my thing. Tell 'em to love each other. I'm into education. I would like to see kids get educated.
Q: Did you receive enough education as a child?
A: No. I didn't go any further than seventh grade. But I was declared a genius, though. I was declared that.
Q: What were the happy parts of your childhood?
A: Christmas (laughs). My daddy gave me five dollars on Christmas and a suit of clothes.
Q: How do you remember your parents?
A: I remember them as hard-workin' people. My father was a filling-station worker. He had a second-grade education. But he was a good worker.

It would have been self-serving to have published Brown's final words to me before hanging up -- but this here's a blog, not a newspaper article. So just between you and me, it went this way:

Q: Well, Mr. Brown, we'll look forward to seeing you in Red Bank, New Jersey.
A: You're a very a nice man. Have a good Christmas, and the same thing to you and your family.


Anonymous Gail Jeanne McGillicuddy said...

Man, that's so awesome, Mark. I found the link to the entire interview and I think I emailed it to just about everyone in my inbox.

Godspeed Mr. Brown. Keep on rockin' in the free world, Mr. Voger.

1:43 AM, December 30, 2006  

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