Picture this. It's Friday night, 12:30, Dave and I are cruising the streets of Swampscott, MA, keeping a watchful eye out for one of the town's ten police cars. We're playing the stereo of my Dad's car ridiculously loud in a pretentious effort to let the otherwise silent town know that we're still out. Maceo Parkers "Life on Planet Groove" (purchased at the local strip mall for $16.99) is echoing across the golf course, off of town hall, and over the remaining three square miles that are my hometown. Maceo belts out over the system, "We like to do 2% jazz and 98% funky stuff!" We exchange glances that say, "Shiiit. That's right, we're bad." We bounce our heads and groove to Maceo's interpretation of the James Brown classic, 'Pass the Peas'. Two baaadass pimps. Just chillin'. We ignore the fact that it's illegal to be driving past 1:00 am although well eventually return home to our worried mothers.
But we're still badass.
One must ask what draws these two Bar Mitzvahs to the likes of Tower of Power or Bootsy Collins. Where is the appeal? Very simply, it's fantasy; it's escape. We are The Beastie Boys circa "Paul's Boutique." We imagine ourselves in yellow suits and gigantic feathered hats, walking with a cane, 3-inch heeled clogs, lots of gold, lots of rings, lots of fur. We walk with a limp. We groove. We've got style.
Funk equals cool. Not to say that 'cool' is a black thing or a white thing, but when you're a suburban middle-upper-middle-class kid, 'cool' is not always so easy to come by. There's always Quentin Tarantino, or the local pool hall, but funk breaks it down. The heavy bass lines and wah-wah pedals and faint congas bring us into a dream world where for eight minutes we are superfly.
Funk is a fantastic breed of music. The intricate rhythms and interwoven melodies involve serious talent, creativity, and style. Setting aside the attitude that complements it, any true music lover should be able to appreciate what funk has to offer.
As George Clinton says, "Funk can not only move, it can remove." In our case we are removed from suburbia. We leave behind mediocre public schools and townies and high school athletics and fall into a world where groove is the word.