Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Home for Christmas: The Godfather of Soul

Not since I walked upstairs on the first Christmas after we got the internet and broke the news to my father that Dean Martin died has the Holy Birth taken place under such a pall as it did this year.

As you probably know by now, the Good Lord clearly wanted the best to help him get down with His Bad Self on His Birthday, calling James Brown home early Monday morning to headline what was, without doubt, Heaven's Funkiest Christmas Ever.

I thought I'd get a longer apprenticeship, but your scribe's now become the Hardest Working Man in Show Business.

Before the news of JB's death at 73 broke, I was fulfilling the annual Christmas late-night tradition of listening to Handel's Messiah in its entirety whilst winding down for the night. Then the word came from Atlanta and, like the Godfather dropping to his knees mid-performance, there went the oratorio, in its place another of my favorite sacred pieces: Brown's 1958 classic "Try Me," followed by the rest of the collection built up over a half-century of performing.

The video you see embedded above is a Whispers first, appropriately enough in tribute to an artist who infused pop culture with the vibe and soul of the Black Church, an icon of the age who had his struggles, battled his demons, found redemption in the profession that became his ministry, and in the process changed the craft for all time.

Taken from the 1965 TAMI Show, this clip features JB's famous "cape thing" (if you can't handle the rhythmic stylings, fast-forward to about 4:10). As an homage, I might just have to work the rite into my speaking gigs for the next six months. The host-bishop can play cape handler... and, for once, put his ferraiolo to good use.

I was aiming to head up to New York today for yet another Sirius on-air raid with Catholic Guy Lino Rulli and some other errata, but ended up kiboshing the trip. So it'll be a phoner at 5pm Eastern on The Catholic Channel.

In advance of tomorrow's viewing at the Apollo, the Godfather's on deck, among an assortment of Octave goodies.

Lux perpetua, Soul Brother.