Skip to comments.The Etymology of Funk ( The music and the term)
Posted on 02/22/2014 10:30:04 PM PST by lee martell
I came across a Free Republic article about George Clinton tonight, and I thought about the music he helped to make popular. George Clinton was the Mastermind of the bands Parliament and the Funkadelics during the 1970's and early 1980's. George launched a solo career in 1981. He has been seen a one of the foremost innovators of funk music, along with James Brown and Sly Stone. George was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with fifteen other Parliament-Funkadelic members. George came from extremely humble beginnings; having been born in an outside toilet. He grew up in New Jersey and formed a doo wop group inspired by Frankie Lymon $ the Teenagers. There was a short stint with Motown as a songwriting team member ("I Wanna Testify" in 1967). The Parliaments eventually found success by combining the elements of Jimi Hendrix, Sly, and Cream, then combining the new technology for sound production. Some of his hits include Flashlight, Atomic Dog and Loopzilla, followed later by "Do Fries Go With That Shake?". A key band member was Bernie Worrell Jr., now 69 years old. Bernie learned to play the piano by age three, wrote a concerto at the age of eight and studied at Julliard in New England's Conservatory of Music. Bernie created Parliament's distinctive riffs with a Minimoog synthsizer. Bernie later performed and toured in the 1980's with the group The Talking Heads.
The days of funk music being on top have long gone, replaced by a rougher, more blunted type of communication. Yet, at 72, George is still in demand as an entertainer and bandleader. Willie Nelson is a similar case of timeless appeal, albeit for very different music.
I recall the first summer I began hearing that term 'funk'. It was in 1971, when James Brown came out with a song written for a type of clothing "Hot Pants (She's Got To Use What She's Got To Get What She Wants)" This was an ode to the Hot Pants or very short shorts the band had seen during their European tour. Most parents did not want their kids using that term Funk, because it was seen as 'a gateway to cursing'. Popular musicians certainly do learn from each other. The same brass and horn phrasings I heard from James Brown, could be heard three years later by Led Zepplin in the Houses of the Holy. This strength and building energy can be heard in many of their pieces, especially "The Crunge".
Absolutely! Real Soul Music has no color but does have the strength of sincerity. People used to laugh, but I’ve heard some pieces Doris Day recorded that would rate rate Dinah Washington, another smokey lounge singer in a sparkly dress.
Music For My Mother
What is soul?
Man, I don’t know.
Soul is rusty ankles and ashy kneecaps.
I’d mention Prince as the best example of funk today. And that musical style is what seperates him from all other current black music like rap.
Love the Funk. Watched a great little documentary on this the other day, I think it was on VH1. “Finding the Funk”.
I’d say Sly Stone’s “Thank You”
(Live on “Soul Train”)
Prince is a survivor, and he owns that type of performance music now. Prince, and his then wife, Mia, Garcia Nelson had a rough time about 20 years back, when their newborn son Gregory died a few days after his birth. The baby was siad to have Pffeifer’s syndrome, Type 2, a rare skull deformity resulting from genetic mutation. There was no autopsy, and the deceased child was cremated on the day he died.
Oh, there will be stand outs from this generations’ music, I’m sure of that. The standards of judgement though, will be far different than what you may expect. They will be showcasing The Worst of The Worst Performances and World Tours. Starting with Miley Cyrus, and all of her twerkings, followed by Lada Gaga and The Meat Dress, Madonna (wheeled out again) in her Special Bra that shoots bullets, followed by Justin Bieber being filmed on stage, singing while pissing in a metal bucket, followed by Beyonce publicly Lap Dancing on Obama (and/or) Michelle’s lap while they play the admiring victim.
Like I wrote, the millennial generation has nothing that stands out...
No new music. No new dance.
I was born in the 1970s and revisit the music often.
Parlement has some interesting concerts on youtube. That was entertainment and original. The Cyrus’ of todays music can’t match that.
Music is timeless. However in saying that, will millenials listen to this crap 30 years from now? I cannot see someone 30 years from now putting on a Justin Bieber song.
After seeing them last year I’ve become a fan of Austin’s Mingo Fishtrap, who have a lot of funk to their sound. You might check them out; I know they are on iTunes.
I always liked Mother’s Finest.
Rock wasn’t really new in 1970s was it? Yet we listened then, and still do now.
The basics of music don’t change, so we don’t NEED something to be new all the time.
*** check out - Black Keys - El Camino (2011)
Hmmm.. All this time, I thought the word,funky was chosen because it rhymed with monkey..
Actually, as Mike Allen has shown in his work, “soul” music and rock has a heavy strain of Scots/Irish folk tunes in it. The notion that it’s “all black music” is just silly.
As one of the best guitarists in the world today, anything with JB in it HAS to be good, even though he usually plays blues-rock and other variants. This RCFP stuff is not really my cup of tea, but some of the tracks are still really good.
For instance, check out this Rock Candy Funk Party video of Octopus "E" on youtube from a recently released CD. In fact, RCFP played on the Conan O'Brien show just last week, including a rare TV appearance by JB. There's quite a bit of RCFP on youtube of late.
Thanks for introducing me to Mingo Fishtrap. I’ve never heard of them before now, and they have been around since the 1990s. At least we have one good legacy band now active and making music. It’s quite a big group of people, men and women.
Thanks for adding a little Rock Candy to our musical diet. I like many kinds of music when done well and with style. I think one of the best features of most Funky music is that the music makes you feel good and the rhythm is usually very easy to walk into. It is similar to but in many ways the exact opposite from The Blues, which is meant to be ponderous, lugubrious and introspective. Each style serves a purpose, as parts of a musical wardrobe.
Funk is an old word meaning smells, or an earthy scent. It also was used to describe a persons B O.
It got its music flavor in the numerous juke joints of Southern blacks, especially when some musicians where also running booze during prohibition, coming in from their booze runs to play, smelling all funky, while jukin an rockin.