It’s been a long week; government shutdowns, training to begin my end-of-the-year moonlighting, projects being finalized—sometimes you just have to end the week with a little funk.
When my sister and I were coming up, we had this expression we’d break out on one another. We’d say, “funk is toe jam.” We’d laugh. I don’t know where the hell this came from. I’m sure we heard some singer talking about it, or we read it in Rolling Stone, or some other social arbiter of the times.
Growing up during the tumultuous 1970s, I cut my rock and roll teeth on the band, KISS. Gene Simmons and Co. ruled my turntable back in 1975 and 1976, especially KISS Alive. If you know your rock and roll history, you know that KISS were on Casablanca Records, the label co-founded by Neil Bogart and Cecil Holmes, after they bailed from Buddah Records.
Casablanca was an odd mélange of theatrical, bombastic rock, mixed with soul and disco. KISS was huge, but so were some of the others on their roster, including Donna Summer, Cher, and Village People. And then there were the purveyors of funk, Parliament, and the empire of George Clinton.
I didn’t appreciate the soulful renderings of R&B back in 1976. It would be years later that I’d learn about the magic inherent in locking in a groove built upon a bass line and the music incorporating soul, jazz and R&B—that would be funk. I really began to dig the sound after I discovered Funkadelic, Parliament’s sister act. In fact, a friend in Indiana was a huge George Clinton/P-Funk fan, and we’d listen to the band for hours while hanging out at his trailer in Lake Station. Funk helped during my fundamentalist withdrawal period.
The other morning, I was streaming WFMU and DJ Ken was playing a set of Funkadelic, songs like “Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow” and the title track from “Maggot Brain.”
Maybe America needs an infusion of funk to counter the crazies like Cruz.
For Friday’s listening pleasure, I leave you with Funkadelic (I hope you have headphones). We’ll call it, “Funky Friday.”
“Toe Jam Tuesday” might be around the corner.