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Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

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"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" is a song written and recorded by James Brown.[1] Released as a two-part single in 1965, it was Brown's first song to reach the Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten, peaking at number eight, and was a number-one R&B hit, topping the charts for eight weeks.[2][3] It won Brown his first Grammy Award, for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording.[4]

Consolidating the rhythmic innovations of earlier James Brown recordings such as "I've Got Money" and "Out of Sight", "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" is considered seminal in the emergence of funk music as a distinct style. As Brown sings the praises of an old man brave enough to get out on the dance floor of a nightclub, his band provides a horn-heavy backdrop with a prominent rhythm and an electric guitar riff for a hook. Both singer and musicians place overwhelming emphasis on the first beat of each measure ("on the One"). The song is Brown's first recording to feature Jimmy Nolen on guitar.

The taped recording of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" was edited and sped up for its single release, increasing the tempo and raising the pitch by a half step. In 1991 the recording was released in unedited form at its original speed on the box set Star Time.[5] The track includes lead-in studio chatter, with Brown throatily (and presciently) shouting "This is a hit!" just before the drum and horn intro.


 [hide*1 Legacy


In 2004, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" was ranked number 72 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. (In 2010 the magazine updated its list, and the song was moved up a rank to number 71.)[6] The song is currently ranked as the 82nd greatest song of all time, as well as the sixth best song of 1965, by Acclaimed Music.[7]

Other recordings[edit]Edit

An instrumental version of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" was released as the B-side of Brown's 1965 Smash single "Try Me". He also recorded a big band jazz arrangement of the song with the Louie Bellson Orchestra for his 1970 album Soul on Top.

Live performances of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" appear on the albums Hot on the OneLive in New YorkSoul Session LiveLive at the Apollo 1995, and the 2009 Expanded Edition ofLive at the Garden. It is also featured in medleys on Love Power Peace and Say It Live and Loud.

Cover versions[edit]Edit


  • James Brown - lead vocal

with the James Brown Band:

  • Joe Dupars - trumpet
  • Ron Tooley - trumpet
  • Levi Rasbury - trombone
  • Wilmer Milton - trombone
  • Nat Jones - alto saxophone
  • Maceo Parker - tenor and baritone saxophones
  • St. Clair Pinckney - tenor saxophone
  • Eldee Williams - tenor saxophone
  • Al "Brisco" Clark - tenor saxophone
  • Nat Jones - organ
  • Jimmy Nolen - guitar
  • Sam Thomas or Bernard Odum - bass
  • Melvin Parker - drums

Similarly named songs[edit]Edit

References in popular culture[edit]Edit

"Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse," an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, was named for the song. The song's title was also played on for The Simpsons episode "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge".

2013 musical Kinky Boots contains the line "Papa's got a brand new shoe" in the song "Everybody Say Yeah" (music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper).

Preceded by

"In the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett

Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single

August 14, 1965 – October 2, 1965 (eight weeks)

Succeeded by

"I Want To (Do Everything For You)" by Joe Tex

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