In this Princetastic week I want to celebrate that Prince is here in London and doing cheap shows at pretty small venues at late notice for our delectation.
I am also commiserating with all of those (including my own self) for whom it is not massively feasible or enjoyable to set off across town (or the country) on a tip off from Twitter, to queue for who knows how long in who knows what weather in the fear that they/we will ultimately not get in. Call me spontaneous? Never.
In my optimistic positivity that I will see Prince play live again in the next few weeks, please join me in a musical, linguistic post exploring some of the best ways to use the multi-tasking verb ‘get…’. For some reason it seems to be a ‘funk’ thing but I would love to hear from you if you have other thoughts.
Help me to answer one of my all time puzzlers: when you are at the discotheque thinking about having a jig, do you like to get up or do you wanna get down on the dance floor? Hopefully by the end of these musical interludes you will know the answer to this all-important question.
Thank you, Prince, for kicking us off with Get off. It’s not my favourite track of yours, but without it this post makes even less sense.
Get Off by Prince (1991)
James Brown has to be the master of using Get in his song titles. He wanted everyone to get on, up or offa everything. I can’t think of anything more fun to watch tonight (other than Prince live) than JB and his fancy feet, his choreographed brass musicians and his besuited JBs. So here we have three of the funkiest ‘Get’s in Funk music:
Get Up (I Feel like being a Sex Machine) by James Brown (1970)
Get On the Good Foot by James Brown (1972)
Get Up Offa That Thing by James Brown (1976)
Now back to 1975, and the wonderful disco theme by K.C. and the Sunshine Band:
Get Down Tonight by K.C. and the Sunshine Band (1975)
The following song has to be one of the tunes which most instantly whizzes me back to being a pre-teen dancing on a Saturday night down at the Blackheath Wanderers. I blame my love of many early 80s classics by Shalamar and Earth Wind and Fire (etc etc) on these wild heady days.
Get Down on it by Kool and the Gang (1981)
Can I also mention the heavily funky Jungle Boogie, one of Kool’s precursor to Get Down to It, which was released years earlier in 1973. One of its main lyrics is ‘Get Down’ and I love the fact that, long before Robert ‘Kool’ Bell turned vocalist for the popular disco tracks of the 80s, the vocals (including shrieks and all sorts) on this track were done by the roadie, Don Boyce!
This next one is not strictly a phrasal usage of get + preposition (in fact there is no Get in the actual title) but you will have to forgive me for stretching my own ‘rules’. Madonna rarely gets a look into hattydaze (I know she is very upset about this) and I have such fond memories of watching Desperately Seeking Susan.
Into the Groove by Madonna (1985)
Moving on a few years… I can’t leave Pharrell out of any post at the moment. Apologies to any haters out there. I certainly couldn’t leave the phenomenally successful Get Lucky out of this compilation.
Get Lucky by Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams (2013)
And finally, bringing us right up to date with one of my favourite current tunes from Edinburgh group Young Fathers, this Get Up completes the circle which started with Prince up there at the top. It’s a dark and slightly disturbing video but what do you think of the song? Do you like it?
Get Up by Young Fathers (2014)
So there we have it, my frankly quite useless guide to phrasal verbs in the world of popular (mostly funky) music. Please do let me have any other ‘Get’ songs which I have omitted, or your ideas on why you think ‘getting’ is so popular in funk and soul classics.
And have you decided whether you prefer to get up, off or down, or maybe you just want to get lucky? Lastly, a special prize goes to anyone who can tell me what that Thing is or what the It is that Robert Bell is telling me to get down on. I’m guessing it’s the funk but answers on a postcard. I expect Prince knows.
Enjoy the funk if you got in to see Prince at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire tonight and please give me some notice if he’s playing there (or any other ‘iconic venue’) tomorrow…