Sunday, January 07, 2007

James Brown on New Year's Eve

I was not that moved by the death of James Brown, as I have never listened to his music in more than bits and pieces. Obviously, that also means that I was never that moved by his music, or I would have explored it further.

But the drawing in the "Goings on about Town" section of the Dec. 25/Jan. 1 issue of The New Yorker did move me: a red-black-brown-and-green image of James Brown singing, one arm raised in the air to celebrate or preach, with the caption "James Brown plays B.B. King's on New Year's Eve." Since he died on Christmas Day and I read the issue only during the first week of January, this picture became very moving suddenly (reminding me of the photos William Hurt looks at in Smoke, thinking they are all the same, but suddenly his dead wife is in two of them).


Anonymous said...

I saw that picture, too. But I somehow didn't realize they printed the issue before he died. The way I saw it was that The New Yorker just paid him a tribute. That's also why I was puzzled about the caption.

I didn't have the "epiphany" when I looked at the drawing but when I read your post just now. Very strange.

The scene in Smoke you are talking about is pretty amazing, together with Auggie (Harvey Keitel) talking about his grandma this is my favorite of the whole movie. Ever since I saw it I've been wanting to do the same thing: photographing the same spot of a city every day at the same time; in black/white, of course. I can only imagine the stories these photos would tell to the next generations.

Andrew Shields said...

My epiphany was a day or two early, yours a day too late. :-)

Anonymous said...

Well said.