Total bullshit I tell my baby

James Brown was basically a benevolent dictator. On his records and in concert, he’d put questions like “Can I count it off?” or “Can we hit it and quit?” to a democratic vote among his backing band. But you’ll notice they were careful never to disagree with him.

“Can we take it to the bridge?” he’d ask.

“Yeah!” the band would shout.

“Can we take it to the bridge?” he’d ask again.

“Yeah, man!” the band would shout.

Nobody ever said “I’d actually rather not take it to the bridge.”

Legend has it that a bass player from James Brown’s early days got a bit too big for his boots one night in Atlanta. After Brown asked for the fifth time if the band could “give it a little bit of the horn right now,” the bass player said “Can we just get on with the damned song, already?”

That bass player’s name was “Fired” Bobby Johnson, and he was never heard from again. His short-lived career was a cautionary tale for all that would follow in his wake.

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