The James Gang – Funk #49

This song has been played a bunch on the radio but Joe Walsh’s intro doesn’t get old to me. The song peaked at #59 in the Billboard 100 in 1971.

The James Gang is best known for their guitarist, Joe Walsh, whose playing on this track helped establish him as a superstar guitarist. Walsh joined the Cleveland-based group in 1969 after making a name for himself as one of the top guitarists in Ohio. He replaced Glenn Schwartz in the band, who Walsh considers a mentor. They were a 5-piece when Walsh joined but was down to three when they released their second album James Gang Rides Again.

 

From Songfacts

With just three members, it meant Walsh had to play both rhythm and lead guitar parts, and also sing (he got a lot more help when he joined the Eagles in 1975). It was quite a learning experience for Walsh, who left the James Gang in 1971 after recording three studio albums with the group.

It was the producer Bill Szymczyk who signed the James Gang to ABC Records after seeing them perform at a show in Ohio. Szymczyk produced the band and began a long association with Joe Walsh, producing his solo albums and most of the Eagles output in the ’70s.

Walsh wrote this song with his bandmates, drummer Jim Fox and bass player Dale Peters. The song is about a girlfriend whose wild ways the singer just can’t tame (the female equivalent of Joe Walsh’s character in his solo hit “Life’s Been Good”). There isn’t much in the way of lyrics, as the song is mostly a showcase for Walsh’s guitar work. He explained in the book The Guitar Greats, “I came up with the basic guitar lick, and the words never really impressed me intellectually, but they seemed to fit somehow. It was a really good example of how we put things together, bearing in mind that it was a three-piece group, and I don’t think that there was any overdubbing. The only thing we really added was the percussion middle part, which the three of us actually played, putting some parts on top of the drums, but that’s the three-piece James Gang, and that’s the energy and kind of the symmetry we were all about.”

The first James Gang album (Yer’ Album, 1969) contained the track “Funk #48,” which according to producer Bill Szymczyk, got its title “out of thin air.” When they came up with what would become “Funk #49,” they were once again faced with no logical title based on the lyrics, and followed the sequence. There was a “Funk 50,” but not until Joe Walsh released it on his 2012 album Analog Man after being asked to rework “Funk #49” for the ESPN show Sunday NFL Countdown.

“Funk #49” became a staple of Album Oriented Rock and Classic Rock radio, but it wasn’t the biggest chart hit for the James Gang – that would be “Walk Away,” which made #51 in 1971 and was later reworked for Walsh’s 1976 solo album You Can’t Argue with a Sick Mind. “Funk #49” is one of Joe Walsh’s most popular songs, and by the mid-’70s he admitted that he couldn’t stand playing it anymore, but did so because fans loved it.

Funk #49

Uh, sleep all day, out all night,
I know where you’re going.
I don’t that’s a-acting right,
You don’t think it’s showing.
A-jumpin’ up, fallin’ down,
Don’t misunderstand me.
You don’t think that I know your plan,
What you try’n to hand me?

Out all night, sleep all day,
I know what you’re doing.
If you’re gonna a-act that way,
Think there’s trouble brewing.

 

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

34 thoughts on “The James Gang – Funk #49”

    1. I would have loved to see them with Joe. They were a great trio.
      I’ve seen Joe once…I went to a Ringo concert that was on his birthday and out came Joe…who is his brother in law.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gotta put in my 2cents worth & disagree…to me Eagles created a catalog of memorable songs, James Gang a handful of good ones & some great guitar riffs. But, just my opinion…that’s what makes music interesting.the differences between listeners

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      2. The Eagles catalog will always sell that is for sure… I just like the rough edges that Joe had…but he had to tone it down for the Eagles because it would not have meshed. Funk 49’s tone would not have gone over with the Eagles.

        That documentary didn’t help. Dave we talked about this before…separating the art from the artist…usually I can do that but I wish I would have never seen it.

        Aphoristical… have you seen the Eagles documentary?

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      3. Eagles are interesting for me as I think they have some very strong aspects. For me they’d be much better if they had a better drummer (Henley’s a very good vocalist and lyricist though) and Glenn Frey didn’t write lyrics (thinking of stuff like ‘Chug All Night’). They have a lot to like – good harmonies, good guitarists.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. They were like two bands… Pre Joe and Post Joe or Bernie and after which ever. I think the best Frey song is Take It Easy…with Jackson Browne.
        I’m probably too cynical about them because of the area I live and how much I’ve heard them.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I would have to disagree as well. Hotel California…the playing against Don Felder. He is an outstanding musician but, he was challenged in that group. Bernie was the one that didn’t ‘mesh’.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Well it was two different groups really. Early Eagles was nothing like later Eagles.
        I saw that damn documentary again this past week. Don and Glenn don’t really come out looking good.
        He wasn’t the loud and really edgy Joe…he really couldn’t be with them. I do like his solo in Hotel California.

        Funny…in the south they are played to DEATH…they were adopted here as southern I believe. Them and Lynyrd Skynyrd are loved by many.

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      7. I’m glad he went with The Eagles. Everything was improved all the way around. Bernie was heading in the wrong direction. Randy & Glenn had problems. Don Felder wound up suing everybody. Joe was like glue or a backbone for the group. They wouldn’t have been the GIANT success they were without him. It was win-win. That quirky sense of humor about him…

        Early Eagles were more country rock. By 1979, they were becoming formulaic. And, Don & Glenn were two huge egos.

        I can only take Skynyrd in small doses.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Yea Don and Glenn did have huge egos…very huge.
        On Skynyrd me also… I like Tuesday’s Gone and things like that but that is all. In TN many people group those two groups together for some odd reason…. and have played them to death.

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      9. lol…I was having fun with the famous live thing Ronnie use to say and everyone would shout FREE BIRD…
        I will say this. Ronnie was a good songwriter and sang well for what he did.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Really good ones don’t get much credit at times…people look at the guitar player thinking how is he doing that…

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      2. Geddy Lee of Rush…
        James Jamerson was the bass player for Motown…see he doesn’t get any attention. He influenced Paul a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Lol…he is a good bass player. Those soul and disco records have some great bass players on them also.

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