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James Brown in 1960s America Essay Example

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James Brown in 1960s America

James Brown in 1960s America. Evidence of his broad appeal and ability to appropriate new elements into his music is clearly heralded in his 1965 hit single Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag: Since very little art is produced in isolation, it is impossible to evaluate Brown’s music and his influence on the American music scene without also looking closely at the tumultuous changes that were straining the cultural fabric of 1960’s America. Much has been written about this remarkable decade and of the social movements that characterized it. In the short span of those ten years, Americans made their first flights into space, took dramatic strides toward ending segregation, became mired in a costly and unpopular war in Vietnam, and assassinated would be easy, upon a cursory examination of his music, to dismiss Brown as nothing more than an animated singer of soul music, but he was, in fact, both a voice for and a force within the movements for social change at work in America during those years.

For the most part, popular music in the ‘60’s took one of four forms—rock ‘n roll, rhythm and blues/soul, folk and, late in the decade, acid rock—and each of those forms served its unique role in both commenting on and fueling the social changes characteristic of the decade.Folk was most vocal in its social criticism and demands for change. Civil and workers’ rights, equality for women and the growing dissatisfaction over the war in Vietnam were all given voice by folk musicians. Rock ‘n roll, more and longer than any other popular musical genre clung to the fading positivism of the 1950’s, but eventually lost itself in the “turn on and tune out” nihilism of acid rock. More than any other form, it was soul—evolved from R&B and powered by skyrocketing sales at Motown Records—that served as common ground for American youth of dissimilar backgrounds. Inner city black kids joined suburban white kids in dancing and singing to the hits of James Brown and other soul musicians. James Brown in 1960s America.


Brown, James. I Feel Good. New York: New American Library, 2005

Brown, James. Lyrics for All, “James Brown – Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”


Brown, James. SoundTrack Lyrics, “Artist: James Brown, Song: I Got You (I Feel Good)” <http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/thebigchilligotyou.htm>

Brown, James. SoundTrack Lyrics, “Artist: James Brown, Song: It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” <http://www.stlyrics.com/songs/j/jamesbrown4607itsamansmansmansworld


Gerber, Louis. “James Brown”

<http://www.cosmopolis.ch/english/cosmo11/jamesbrown.htm> (2000)

Hammer, Steve. “A Chat with the Godfather of Soul” <http://www.nuvo.net/hammer/> (1996)

Kimball, Roger. The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America. San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2000

Kingwood College Library, “American Cultural History 1960 – 1969,” Kingwood College, <http://kclibrary.nhmccd.edu/decade60.html>

Scaruffi, Piero, Ed. “The Sixties: A Chronology of Events” <http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/1960s.html>

“TONY Interview: James Brown,” Time Out New York, July 16-23, 1998, <http://www.funky- stuff.com/jamesbrown/Interviews/Tony_Interview.htm>

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preview essay on James Brown in 1960s America
  • Pages: 6 (1500 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Music
  • Level: Masters
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