If you don’t know who these people are, I weep for you. Because if you go listen to it right now, so much soul might give you a goddamn stroke of funk. No one can be inflicted with that much awesome all at once and survive, baby.
LOOK AT THIS SHIT:
Now, let me preface with a little background, and then you’ll get a clue as to why I owe so much to this deceased King and Queen of the half-song, half-talk ballad. For a short time, I had the unequivocably extreme pleasure of growing up in Utah. Strangely enough, Utah had a better soul radio station than anywhere else I had lived up to that point in my sad little youth. I also had a friend who lived in a house with what I will now dub “The Funk Basement.” I had never seen Bootsy Collins before, but when I stared into an LP with that dude’s starry starry sunglasses staring right back at me, I WAS HOOKED. This friend of mine had every fucking album imaginable to my yet uninformed inner soulstress. Parliament. Evelyn “Champagne” King. (OMG WHY CAN’T MY MIDDLE NAME BE “CHAMPAGNE”?!!!) Above all, every Rick James and Teena Marie album that existed in 1983, which was like, a couple for each. Either way, I would spend every summer in the Funk Basement trying to figure out WTF that guy was saying in “Double Dutch Bus” and trying – trying my little 13 year-old heart out – to sing exactly like Teena Marie.
I was not half bad. I had frizzy-ass hair that my mom insisted on perming, I wore leg warmers everywhere, and twirled baton for sport – but nothing beat spending the summer in that magical dungeon of impossibly high notes (dude, there was someone before Mariah came into this world) and the sweet, tender musings of a coke-addled Rick James.
In the classic story-ballad “Fire and Desire,” Rick pleads lovingly yet almost unabashedly to Teena,
“You know it’s funny how a man can change so quickly from a
cold-blooded person, thinkin’ he’s God gift to women.
Remember how I use to do that?
I must have been crazy, baby.”
YES YOU WERE CRAZY, you braided devil, you. How dare you…you…
QUIT TAKING OFF YOUR SHIRT RICK!!!
Or whatever. It’s just distracting.
Anyway, I owe all my success to them, what little success I actually have had. Through trying to master the vocal talents of these two now-dead badasses, it gave me courage. Will. Power. Fortitude. I will be forever grateful.
Because the year after I left Utah and moved to Arizona, here’s what my peers thought of me. None of it may have come true, but goddamn it, The Funk Basement changed my life.
In case you’re having difficulty reading my “awards” from the 8th grade, they are:
- BEST PERSONALITY
- MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
- THE GIRL MOST LIKELY TO BE RICH AND FAMOUS
- BEST ALL-AROUND GIRL (Jesus, what does that even mean at 14??)
- BEST DRESSED GIRL
Parting wisdom? LOVE THEM AND LEAVE THEM, BITCHES.
Also, fuck your couch, Eddie Murphy.