Monday, January 03, 2011

"I Got You (I Feel Good)" (1965)

9. James Brown, "I Got You (I Feel Good)" (Nov. 20, 1965, #3)

There's a one-page six-panel comic strip interpretation by Mary Fleener of this song that I wish I could reproduce here or even point to directly, but alas, it appears to be MIA on the Internets for the moment. At least a smaller version of the one I found in a newspaper and clipped and had on my wall for years can be found in the booklet accompanying the Star Time box set, which you want to get anyway if you have any interest at all in James Brown and don't already own. The strip (and the whole box set, for that matter) is about as perfect as the song itself. Done up in Fleener's trademark style, which draws self-consciously from a mix of cubism, art deco, and a '60s underground comix  sensibility—Fleener herself labels it cubismo—it's all stark blacks and whites with sharp edges and triangles and energetic bursting perspectives, a match for Brown's music. Half the fun is the lyrical spellings themselves: "Wwaaaow!" she interprets the opening scream, one for the ages, which is more and less tarted up with gaudy reverb across different versions. "So GOOD ... so GOOD," in the second panel the presumptive singer is flat on the floor, clutching a pair of fishnet-stocking'd legs by the calves, "I GOT YOU!" The sax break in the fourth panel: "Bomp BOMP bap bap BOMP." Then the band in medium-long shot, on stage and necessarily in thrall to itself, surrounded by little words: "When ah HOLD you in mah aaaAHHHhrrms ... " And last panel, James Brown's face, sweating and insane, bracketed on either side by "SO NICE," underneath it one last scream, "I GOT YOU! Wwwaaow!" But reading about what somebody drew about what they heard when they heard this song is a pale imitation of the real thing. You can't even begin to imagine.

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