H.o.p. asks "What's your most embarrassing moment"

Juli Kearns Everyday Stories 2 Comments

H.o.p. is wanting to know things like “What’s your most embarrassing moment” and by this he means two or three dozen. As my whole life is an embarrassment I was unable to make a selection. But the co-adult is less tragic and does have a segment that he has always related as “most embarrassing”.

He was about 21 years of age and was playing in Augusta with a band that had toured opening up for James Brown. I remember the incident as having happened a few years later than 1977 but he insists it was when he was 21. I remember the club as having a back room with a couple of arcade games that were more late 70s or early 80s than mid 70s, but there were a lot of clubs and it gets fuzzy. Considering the line-up of musicians it may have been as early as co-adult says it was and I do have a hard time imagining my spouse with a few more years on him being this stupid. And I should note that co-adult had so embarrassed himself it was a while before he told me this story, which is probably why I remember all this as being later. Anyway, they were playing a house gig at a club owned by a friend of The James Brown, Godfather of Soul. The club wasn’t doing very well and trying to boost it and help his friend, James Brown often came in and performed with the band.

Co-adult was young, by far the youngest guy in the band, James Brown was one of his big heroes and co-adult was so in awe of James Brown that he couldn’t bring himself to speak to him, which the bass player noted and asked why and co-adult explained this to him. Co-adult said James Brown was an easy guy to talk to and if he was nervous about it then go with a mission, ask him what song he wanted to sing.

Which co-adult did. During the break, he went over to James Brown and asked him what song he’d like to be singing next.

James Brown smiled and said he thought he’d like to do, “Try Me”, a hit from 1958.

Co-adult knew nearly all these tunes, but his brain had shut down. Had he been on stage and they’d started the song, no problem, but standing in the presence of the Godfather of Soul he lost all memory. He said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Brown, but I don’t know that song.”

James Brown smiled and said well, then how about “Please, Please, Please”, another 50s song.

Co-adult again found his brain a blank, and apparently determined that he should profoundly embarrass himself as penance, said, “Mr. Brown, I’m sorry but I’m way too young to know any of that old shit.”

James Brown smiled and said that was all right, how about “Poppa’s Got A Brand New Bag”. Having properly humiliated himself, co-adult regained his memory and that’s the end of that story. I suppose if you’re not a musician you might not be properly appalled but whenever I hear the story, though I snicker in appreciation of co-adult being properly embarrassed all these years by that moment, I can’t kick the sensation of ants crawling all over, nipping at me painfully.

Turns out we haven’t properly educated H.o.p. He used to love one of James Brown’s albums when he was a tiny tot, but it’s been a while, and he asked, “Who’s James Brown?” Talk about cringing in embarrassment of having failed to do one’s duty! For which reason we now have some new James Brown CDs and I’ve been showing him some of the performances archived on Youtube, such as the below “Please, Please, Please”.

If you’re not screaming and pulled out of your seat by the middle of this performance, there’s no redeeming you.

Comments 2

  1. Funny! You guys crack me up.

    I too, am enamored of the Godfather of Soul, always have been. He is, to me, the God of Funk and will always have a warm place in my heart. There is no way NOT to bounce, tap, wiggle, jump and/or jive, when his music is playing and I would have given any one of my teeth to see him LIVE.

    Was co-adult able to redeem himself to his idol, after his memory returned? That would be a lovely ending…

  2. Kate, he was 21. No matter how good a player one may be (or think they may be) at 21, a person who is 21 just doesn’t yet have the life history to properly do anything in certain musical arenas.

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