What the Pope Told James Brown


"I took a trip to Rome during one of my down periods a few years ago, and had the good fortune to be greeted by the pope," says James Brown in his latest memoir (according to this Martha Bayles review). "The pontiff shook my hand three times, and I told him I had been thinking about leaving the music business, and to my surprise, he advised against it. I asked him why.

"He said, 'Because, sir, you can get things done.'"

So what do you suppose John Paul II meant by that? Did he have a list of worthy things that he hoped that James Brown would accomplish? Or was the pope trying but failing to get down, intending to say, "Because, James Brown, you can really take care of business!" Or is that "get things done" stuff what passes for papal small talk? Maybe you once chatted with the pope; did he tell you the same thing?

Maybe JP2 hoped that James Brown would reveal the truth about crunk. Brown speculates in his memoir that rap lyrics heavy with sex are some sort of FCC conspiracy to make Black people look bad, and that some songs may even have their origin in "some faction of the FCC."