Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Three-and-a-half Minutes (times x) Is Enough For Me

"Outta Sight" by James Brown and the Famous Flames

I saw it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and since then, I've watched it every day, on some days more than once, on some days more than more than once. You get -- you are the recipient of -- everything in this performance: the utmost control, precision, complexity, simplicity, passion (gusto, brio), artifice, kinetic grace (what a dancer he was!) . . . I know that's not everything, but it's enough for me. 
After my fifth or sixth viewing, I told myself that I'd watch the others on stage at least a little bit. But I couldn't. You can't take your eyes off James Brown here because you are afraid that if you do, you'll miss something: every note, every chord, every fraction of every beat surges through his body, which both controls and is controlled. Plus, he sings and screams, with flawless power, like a supreme being. 
He was just a man, of course, and by some accounts, not a very good one. As a musician, though, he's about as immortal as they come. It's the greatest performance of a great love song I've ever seen, and a joyous thing.

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