Charles Bradley’s Delayed Gratification

If you wait 62 years to release your debut, and if the setbacks and tragedies you’ve suffered in the meantime make you title one of your best songs “Heartaches and Pain,” and if you’re singing deep Southern soul, well, that debut better pack an emotional wallop strong enough to make the hurt feel real, and the wait worthwhile.

Also, you might want to wear a sparkly jacket with a big-ass eagle on the back, and do some splits that make the crowd scream with joy and surprise, so they laugh instead of cry while you basically bleed in front of them night after night.

"The World (Is Going Up in Flames)" Charles Bradley

Because if you do all that, the crowd might not notice just how desperate and intense you sound in between songs as you shout, “I love you! No, I love YOU! I LOVE you!”

The songs on Charles Bradley’s No Time for Dreaming don’t contain much love or redemption – by way of example, the free track he’s given Magnifier is called “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)” – but he sings them with an abandon bordering on glee that suggests the mere fact of surviving the abyss is amazing, while the ability to dance around it afterward is outright heroic. Because there’s always the chance you might fall right back in.

Magnifier’s video interview is a lot like a Charles Bradley song – at one point he admits, “Sometimes I want to go and hide because it hurts so bad.” But it’s easy to miss the painful core, since he surrounds it with happy memories about his sister introducing him to James Brown, the gin he drank before jumping on stage for the first time, the glory of Barbra Streisand singing “Memories,” and how he sees right through the young ‘uns he tours with in the Menahan Street Band.

Watch the interview and laugh. Listen to the free song and clap. Smile and shout when he does the splits. Just don’t ever assume that’s all there is to it. -- Tim Quirk

"The World (Is Going Up in Flames)" Charles Bradley


Anonymous said...

He's great. Thanks for sharing!

Francois said...

I love Magnifier. So many great talents to discover.

matoler said...

Wow! I agree. There are so many great musicians out there playing their hearts out for the sheer love of the music. Great talents are possessed by melodies that need to be played, songs that need to song, rhythms that need to mark the passing of time. They don't care about fame and fortune, they care about the music. But because our culture is so obsessed with celebrity, our music dominated by the music industry, we so rarely hear them unless we venture into the small clubs, the instrument stores, the small festivals. We're bombarded over and over with the same mediocre huge stars. That is until a service like Google Music comes along and brings us truly original artists like Charles Bradley. Wow! Just wow! Please don't sell out, don't the way of other services that were once equally fresh. In just the short time you've been around I've discovered some great artists. There's some others I hope you will discover and feature soon. I'm enamored of this guy, and I'm enamored of Google Music. Wow, I sound like a teenager, but I guess that's cause I have a crush on you, Google Music.

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