James Brown – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag

Happy Father’s Day! I hope everyone has a great day.

I do miss my dad…this is Christmas 1975…yea I’m the dork beside him.


James Brown = The MAN

James Brown recorded this song in one take…the released version was supposed to be a run-through, but sounded so good it was kept anyway.

Brown, who still hadn’t memorized the song’s lyrics, read from a sheet in front of him at the beginning of the original take, he can be heard saying “There’s a lot of words here, man.” He also can be heard exclaiming “This is a hit!” just before the band kicks in.

The song peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 and #1 in the R&B Charts in 1965.

This song was followed by  “I Got You (I Feel Good),” which quickly became Brown’s biggest hit (until “Living in America” was released in 1985) as it went to #3 on the Hot 100.

This won a Grammy for Best R&B Recording of 1965. It was also inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.

From Songfacts

A “bag” is slang for a way of doing something or a kind of lifestyle. It was a popular saying in the ’60s, especially among musicians, who wouldn’t describe songs as being “in an R&B bag” or “in a doo-wop bag.”

In this song, James Brown sings about coming up with a new “bag,” meaning a completely different way of approaching music. Inspired by what he heard in church, he punctuated the music on the downbeat, creating his “brand new bag.”

In March 1965, after a legal battle with King Records, Brown agreed to a new contract with a higher royalty rate than their previous agreement, plus Brown’s own publishing company and complete artistic control. Brown promptly went into a Charlotte, North Carolina, studio and cut “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.”

King Records executive Syd Nathan gave a copy of this to New York DJ Frankie Cocker, who hated the new James Brown style but was impressed with the response when he put it on the air anyway. When King Records released the track as a single, Smash Records, the label Brown had leased some of his songs to that prompted the lawsuit, released an instrumental version of the song. As part of the ruling, Smash Records could release only instrumental versions of Brown’s songs.

Brown had recorded the very similar sounding “Out Of Sight” for Smash earlier that year, violating his King contract. James retooled the song, using a riff his band had been playing live, as a peace offering to King.

The original song was about seven minutes long, moved at a slower pace, and featured a more elaborate intro. After the song was cut, Brown sliced off most of the intro, sped the song up to get it played on pop radio, and broke it up into three parts (the second of which can be heard on the flipside of the original single).

The vocal version reached #8 in the US. It was the first Top 10 hit for the Godfather of Soul, and marked a departure from his early music toward the definition of his signature sound. Horns are used for percussive effect, and Brown’s vocals are tightly attached to the overall instrumental mix.

Dancing was a big part of James Brown’s stage show, and he often referred to dances in the lyrics to his songs. The dance crazes mentioned in this one are: The Jerk, The Fly, The Monkey, The Mashed Potatoes, The Alligator, The Twist, and the Boomerang.

Artists to record this song include Pat Boone, Freddy Cannon, Georgie Fame, Quincy Jones, L.A. Guns, Willie Mitchell, Pigbag, Otis Redding, Roger, Jimmy Smith, The Ventures, Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. 

Brown’s longtime sax player Maceo Parker played baritone sax on this track, and Maceo’s older brother Melvin was the drummer. The guitar, which is most prominent when it answers Brown’s chorus line, came courtesy of Jimmy Nolen.

This was performed in Beat the Devil, one of a series of BMW films (see it at YouTube). Faced with the problem of viewers skipping past commercials or simply ignoring them, BMW decided to make short films starring their products that people would choose to watch. James Brown stars in this one.

This was used in the 1993 Robin Williams film Mrs. Doubtfire. 


Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag

Come here sister, Papa’s in the swing
He ain’t too hip, about that new breed babe
He ain’t no drag
Papa’s got a brand new bag

Come here mama, and dig this crazy scene
He’s not too fancy, but his line is pretty clean
He ain’t no drag
Papa’s got a brand new bag

He’s doing the Jerk
He’s doing the Fly
Don’t play him cheap ’cause you know he ain’t shy
He’s doing the Monkey, the Mashed Potatoes
Jump back Jack, See you later alligator

Come here sister
Papa’s in the swing
He ain’t too hip now
But I can dig that new breed babe
He ain’t no drag
He’s got a brand new bag

Oh papa! He’s doing the Jerk
Papa, he’s doing the Jerk
He’s doing the twist, just like this
He’s doing the Fly every day and every night
The thing’s, like the Boomerang
Hey, come on
Hey! Hey, come on
Hey! Hey, he’s put tight, out of sight
Come on. Hey! Hey!

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

38 thoughts on “James Brown – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”

      1. Better late than never! Now that has me wondering who I haven’t posted on….. Enjoy your Father’s Day! … worst song about fathers- how about “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Hans… Yes I have to agree with you on that pick as the worst!

        You have covered a lot of artists…I’m going to try to cover some I’ve left out.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve heard some of it and we are ordering the Young and Dylan albums on vinyl. I did hear “Separate Ways” from Neil’s album and loved it. I like what I”ve heard so far.
        i’m really looking forward to both in their entirety. Have you heard either one all the way through yet?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yea I’ve heard some here and there off of blogs. I’m glad to hear that with the Dylan album. I have shown restraint lol by not downloading it but we are getting the vinyl this week.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Boy I can tell you, would I have loved to see James Brown live!

    He was one of the most amazing performers I know. Almost an early type of Michael Jackson in terms of his dance moves – incredible. And the groove of his music was just infectious! It still sounds cool to this day.

    Happy Father’s Day!🎸

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does hold up well…I do wish I could have seen him also. I’ve read where Mick got most of his moves from him.

      Happy Fathers Day Christian!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy dad’s day, Max! Hope the lad treats you well today! Great photo too – almost lookslike you might’ve been in a sound studio?
    This song always makes me think of one of the best titles of the 80s: “Papa’s Got A New Pigbag”. By Pigbag, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dave…he has so far.
      No… we are in a paneled living room…on the floor in front of me is the Evel Knievel motorcycle that you don’t see….but you remember.
      LOL I will have to listen to that.


    1. Oh man he was something…I know the one you are talking about…and when he ran from the cops in a vehicle with the tires flat…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great song. I always associate it with the years I went to parties and college dances (the latter often had soul music playing and some had bands), it’s a great song to dance to. I must remember to put it on one of my ‘dancing’ playlists…!

    Aww, you were a cute kid. 🙂 Your dad looks happy there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea my dad had that Burt Reynolds thing going on at the time. That was right after the time of the divorce…that was one time I saw all of us together each year. They played nice on Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

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