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Over at one o’ them thar English Observer/Guardian-type papers, the inestimable Tom Waits gives a brief rundown of his 20 most cherished albums. Mr. Waits is a genius artist-type, so heads up for the following:

11 Startime by James Brown (Polydor) 1991

I first saw James Brown in 1962 at an outdoor theatre in San Diego and it was indescribable… it was like putting a finger in a light socket. He did the whole thing with the cape. He did ‘Please Please Please’. It was such a spectacle. It had all the pageantry of the Catholic Church. It was really like seeing mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Christmas and you couldn’t ignore the impact of it in your life. You’d been changed, your life is changed now. And everybody wanted to step down, step forward, take communion, take sacrament, they wanted to get close to the stage and be anointed with his sweat, his cold sweat.

“Seeing Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and you couldn’t ignore the impact of it in your life.” When was the last time you attended a Mass like that? For me, it was a Holy Thursday Mass about three years back – in Vietnamese. The church was packed; I stood in the vestibule. Before Mass began, the people rose and chanted en masse while bowing toward a shrine for the Vietnamese martyrs – young and old, all together, all from memory. For the washing of the feet, twelve elderly men in blue robes rose and ascended into the sanctuary. It was magnificent – but it was foreign, in more ways than one.

I have no idea whether or not Tom Waits believes it. But he gets it.

Story via The Minor Fall, The Major Lift (I really must figure out how to insert links.)


  1. Anonymous says:

    Here’s the link to this website, I think. Or maybe not. I’ll have to post it to see.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Actually, no. This is how you do it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Let’s try another one.

  4. Anonymous says:

    OK, not sure what I’m doing differently, but this seems to be working now.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just to be sure, let’s try my second link a second time.

  6. Anonymous says:

    o-KAY, then.

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