Monday, July 22, 2013

Song of the Day: "I Refuse to Lose" - James Brown



"I Refuse to Lose"


This track was released as a single in 1976. I found basically no info on the web about it, but from what I've gathered, the primary themes are:
  • 1970s stagflation was a bitch
  • James Brown being a bad motherfucker
BAMF Exhibit A


As for the music, one key element I picked up on is the use of the call and response. Brown hollers at the rhythm section and queues up grooves from the bass, horn and guitar. Ain't it funky now? (The correct answer is: Hell yes.)
The call and response originated in Sub-Saharan Africa as a means for the public to participate in civic discussions. The technique was also employed during religious rituals and, of course, in music. The African-American roots of gospel, R&B, blues, jazz, soul, rock and roll and a plethora of other sub-genres kept the call and response alive.
Fun facts about the great James Brown:
  • Regarded as the "Godfather of Funk"
  • Holds record for artist with the most singles to hit Billboard Hot 100, without ever getting a #1 slot.
  • Ranked #7 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list.
As for the lyrics, they were nowhere to be found online so I took the liberty of listening to the song a bunch of times and transcribing them as best I could. Gotta love the juxtaposed Muhammad Ali quote! 

The song is awesome so the transcribing process was far from torture, but the outcome is by no means an infallible one. I encourage you to let me know if you think I misheard something in the lyrics - you'd be doing your fellow funk fans a service!

Note: I've got the original 3 min 42 sec track on my iTunes and that's the version I used to get these lyrics - the video embedded above is a 7+ min remixed version of the track. The original is unfortunately not on YouTube at the moment, but I may end up uploading it for all you easily distracted/impatient critters out there, as well as any breakers and/or lockers looking for something shorter and easier to splice.


*Guide to reading: parenthetical lines indicate calls, bracket lines indicate improvisation.*


Lyrics (as I heard them)

(1, 2, 3 - take it down!)
Hard times
Hard time
[Ohh]
Ain’t got no money to pay my bills
Gonna have some fun, keep my lover still
But I refuse to lose
Oh, I refuse to lose
Keep my lovin’, I need it bad
With all the good times I used to have
But I refuse to lose
I refuse to lose
(Take it up!)
I refuse to lose
I refuse to lose
(Get down!)
Ali said, I feel like Ali
I said-uh:
Sting like a butterfly and float like a bee
Don’t want nobody botherin’ me
Cus I refuse to lose
Oh, I refuse to lose
I refuse to lose
[Oh yeah]
I refuse to lose
(Get down!)
[Oh yeah]
In the pocket
Sock it in the pocket
In the pocket - yeah
Sock it in the pocket
- in the pocket
Sock it in the pocket
And let the good times roll,
And let the good times roll
Sock it in the pocket
And let the good times roll
Get it in the pocket
And let the good times roll
Sock it in the pocket - [heh]
And let the good times roll
Rock it in the pocket - [heh]
And let the good times roll
Come on and dance, dance, dance, dance
and let the good times roll
Come on and dance, dance, dance, dance, dance
and let the good times roll
[Ah - a ha]
Come on and dance, dance, dance, dance, dance
and let the good times roll
Come on and dance, dance, dance, dance
and let the good times roll
(Hit it again now!)
[Oohh]
[Oh yeah]
I miss the funds that I used to have
I miss my love and I need her bad
But I refuse to lose
Yeah I refuse to lose
(fading)
Time is rough and money’s short
I lost the things that I thought I bought
But I refuse to lose

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