[Take Five. Every Friday, Fire on the Mountain picks a category and lists five cool things in it. It's up to you, dear reader, to add your own in the Comments section. Just click on the word "comments" at the bottom of the piece and you're off to the races.]
This week's category is a no-brainer--James Brown tunes with political themes or implications. I was inspired to do it, and to keep things on the positive tip, by a memorial post for James on Ajamu Dillahunt's blog, Sankofa Meets the Future:
In 1980 i heard revolutionary activist Muhammad Ahmad/Max Stanford give a talk about how culture does not and cannot lead a movement. His point was that a mass movement creates conditions under which artist generate products that reflect the level of struggle and consciousness of the movement and even push it further. His example was James Brown and the creation of the inspiring and challenging lyrics of "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud." With the movement on the wane, James Brown could issue patriotic songs like Living in America from Rocky fame and even endorse Nixon in 1972.TAKE FIVE
I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door, I'll Get It Myself) 
Old James was a do-for-self kind of guy, and this is an ideological follow-on to that current in "Say It Loud." It's all the more powerful for its bluntness--just get your foot off our neck and we'll do fine.
Blackenized--Hank Ballard [1969?]
This is here because somebody stole my copy of "How You Gonna Get Respect (If You Haven't Cut Your Process Yet?)" about 30 years ago, and my memory being what it is (or isn't), I don't want to fake it. Hank Ballard & The Midnighters cut a bunch of great rockers in the '50s ("Work With Me, Annie" and "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go," for instance) with a gospel flavor that was an influence on James. In the late '60s he paid his debt back by incorporating Ballard into his entourage, and producing several very James-flavored songs for him. This one is in the "Say It Loud" tradition lyrically, though not as funky, a flute-driven quasi-shuffle.
Now I don't know whether you realizeRockin' Funky Watergate--The JBs [1973?]
Before you get some respect
You got to be Blackenized
You been leanin' on others to be your keeper
That's why they call you Negroes and colored peoples
A couple days ago, I blogged about "I Don't Care About Watergate, Just Give Me Some Bucks And I'll Get Straight" and the need to come to grips with its anti-politics message. This one doesn't even bother to make a value judgement--just turns "Rocking Watergate" into an intermittent party chant in one of those live (or "live") jams James excelled at.
King Heroin 
Some of the most powerfully "conscious" Black songs have been anti-drug ones from Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead" to "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)" by Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel. James's spoken entry in the field is kinda weird, because he recites it from the point of view of the drug itself.
Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto [Jeez, late '60s I guess]
Here not for really political lyrics (though I like the fade-out appeal "Santa Claus, a soul brother needs you so") but because it shows Brown's lifelong identification with the Inner City. Let's not forget James collapsed after his annual Christmas toy give-away in Augusta, GA. It's not the hard funk of the day, but an almost boppy rhythm wound just a half turn too tight to be relaxing. Read more!