David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 355: James Brown (I Got You)

May 28, 2024

I should have said, back on Day 350 reflecting on my first retirement song, that I seriously considered James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)" because that "I feel good" scream came from me on one of my first post-retirement walks. You have to understand that I live just off of a lake, way too built up by homes, but with one stretch, very close to my house, where the homes sit on one side of a road, and the lake on the other, with some public access, but mostly a 1/2 mile stretch of just me and the lake on a quiet Spring morning. It's been on these early morning walks, where all I will see are families of geese, a few ducks, and an occasional jogger, that I have felt the weight of the world come off of my shoulders and wanted to scream across the foggy lake surface, "I feeeellll good!"

James Brown is right: Everything is "so good, so good," when "I feel good, like I knew that I would now."  However, it didn't seem right to memorialize those first days of retirement via the parenthetical of a song actually entitled "I Got You (I Feel Good)." So, instead I went with Oasis (symbolism not lost on me).

Brown's parenthetical drove me crazy for a long time. I never thought of the song as "I Got You," I thought of the song as "I Feel Good," which in the pre-Google search era could make "finding it" a bit of a challenge. Even beyond that, the "I Feel Good" seems like signature James Brown. Ask the average person what line best represents Brown, and who chooses anything but "I Feel Good"? The "I Got You" seems the afterthought to the feeling good!

Lyrically, "I Got You (I Feel Good)" is a terrific little love song, another reason I can't use it entirely to encapsulate the joys of retirement. What person can't remember (or imagine) moments "when I hold you in my arms/I know that I can do no wrong" and that "my love can do no wrong." However, enveloped as those lyrics are within Brown's unique soul/funk, I think the love gets a little lost to the cockiness of Brown. Trust me, the cockiness is what we love here, but I'm not going to slow dance with the love of my life to "I Got You." That bassline and those saucy brass parts make one want to shake hips, perfect nods and winks to Brown's vocal delivery.

A vocal delivery that, of course, comes down to a scream.

One of the beauties of a series like this, especially as I wind down, is thinking about some of the decisions and statements I have made along the way. My best description of this series is that it has been like islands popping up, few land bridges existing between any two (my whole point was to not have obvious connections from one day to the next). Nothing above or below the surface, outside of a single writer, even links the whole collective. Among other things, that means I have no easy search feature for the whole series. I have to search each blog individually, for instance, to find out when I reference screaming. Even in retirement I don't have time to do that. So, while I thought I had discussed the nature of a scream in rock and roll in at least one of these, I am not easily finding that isle in the broad expanse. I did talk about Courtney Love's scream (and how I love to scream along with her) for "Doll Parts," but that didn't suggest a comparative analysis of screams.

If I had done so, Brown's scream here would need to be mentioned (along with Love's, probably Daltry's in several Who songs, or Warren Zevon's, again, through any number of songs). These screams seem so random. What motivated these great artists to punctuate already highly-driven songs with a scream? For Brown, "when I hold you in my AAAARMS!" the "I FEEEEEEEEEEEL nice," or the emphatic "HEY!" to close down the song. Such stylistic choices certainly made Brown easy to parody (right, Eddie Murphy?).

So, I go back to that while I have wanted to scream "I Feel Good" as I stare at a peaceful Eagle Lake on any morning for the rest of my life, it probably isn't a smart move. Those geese already look like they don't trust me.

James Brown. "I Got You (I Feel Good)." Out Of Sight. Smash, 1964. Link here.

Day 354: Boz Scaggs "Lowdown"

Day 356: These Immortal Souls "You Can't Unring A Bell"

See complete list here.