≡ Menu

James Brown Quotes

James Joseph Brown

James Brown quotes: on racism, remembering where you came from, and getting really rich.

“You got to use what you got to get just what you want.”

“If you don’t get it the first time, back up and try it again.”

“If that don’t get it, jump back for more. Get on up. Stay on the scene.”

“Don’t let nobody take care of your business better than you.”

“I’d rather Jack be smart, than Jack be quick.”

“This is a revolution of the mind, get your mind together.”

“You got to have the feeling, sure as you’re born. Get it together, right on, right on.”

“Remember: if you don’t work, you can’t eat. You might have to walk the fine line, you might take the hard line, but everybody’s workin’ ooovertime!”

“In our advanced technological age, most people deny the possibility of miracles. Miracles don’t happen, we are told, because they contravene the laws of nature and worse, they sound religious! Yet we live and move in a sea of miracle.”

“Raise up, get yourself together and drive that funky soul!”

“You got to live for you, yourself and nobody else. I want to say to you: help yourself, so you can help someone else.”

“You can take care of yourself, and God helps those who help themselves.”

“My expectations of other people, I double them on myself. Tell yourself, ‘I can do what you can do.'”

“Our feelings are: we’re still alive and still have momentum behind us. We know in our hearts we can do it.”

“You see, man made the cars to take us over the road. How does it feel when there’s no destination that’s too far?”

“Everybody over there, get on up. Everybody out there, get into it. Everybody right there, get involved.”

“Our silence is deafening and deadly.”

“Don’t terrorize. Organize. Don’t burn. Give kids a chance to learn. The real answer to race problems in this country is education. Not burning and killing. Be ready. Be qualified. Own something. Be somebody. That’s Black Power.”

“I want young black kids to wake up and realize that they should be proud of who they were, get an education and try to make something of themselves. Proud and bad are two different things.”

“Would you rather have someone tell you how they’re feeling to your face, or wait till you turn around and whisper their anger behind your back? You got to swing for the fences every time you’re at bat; you owe it to your children and grandchildren. I’ve always been about building, not destroying. You don’t want to destroy your country. You want to build it.”

“Why do you say ‘black lives matter?’ Or is black life any more important than white life? Of course not. All lives matter. All hues are beautiful.”

“I think what I came through is great, but my son can take it to another level, not having to fight racism. His mother’s a Norwegian and I’m mixed up four or five times, so he can face the world.”

“You can’t teach others if you are living the same way.”

“Takes a man or a woman to say I’m sorry, and it takes a fool to walk away.”

“I only got a seventh grade education, but I have a doctorate in funk, and I like to put that to good use.”

“I’m a ghetto man who made good. I never forgot where I came from and who put me on top.”

“I worked hard all my life. When I was just a kid, my mother left the family. Father sent me to live with my Aunt Honey. Honey ran a brothel and little I scavenged any work I could get. I picked cotton, shined shoes, washed cars and did odd jobs. Eventually I began dancing for the soldiers.”

“I got a funky job and I paid my dues. I’ve been knocked down a lot of times.”

“I used to think like Moses. That knocked me down for a couple years and put me in prison. Then I start thinking like Job. Job waited and became the wealthiest and richest man ever ’cause he believed in God.”

“Paid the cost to be the boss.”

“I don’t really care what people think, I just do my own thing. I like being loud and letting people know I’m there.”

“I don’t know karate, but I know ka-razy!”

“Thank God that I had the ability to understand that I had a different beat and that I was a drummer.”

“As I always said, if people wanted to know who James Brown is, all they have to do is listen to my music.”

“I’ve outdone anyone you can name—Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Strauss. Irving Berlin, he wrote 1,001 tunes. I wrote 5,500.”

“I’m not going to be joining ZZ Top. You know they can’t play my stuff. It’s too complicated.”

“Music, it requires more than brawn. It requires a lot of heart. You gotta put love in there.”

“When I’m on stage, I’m trying to do one thing: bring people joy. Just like church does. People don’t go to church to find trouble, they go there to lose it.”

“Hair is the first thing. And teeth the second. Hair and teeth. A man got those two things he’s got it all. Sometimes, you like to let the hair do the talking!”

“Some like them fat, some like them tall, some like them short, skinny legs and all. I like them all.”

“I used to play one job and have 125 pair of shoes on the floor. What was I doing? I couldn’t wear but one pair.”

“It doesn’t matter how you travel it, it’s the same road. It doesn’t get any easier when you get bigger, it gets harder. And it will kill you if you let it.”

“Money won’t change you, but time will take you out. I got a wife who likes expensive things, so she takes all the cash.”

“Now, we own a publishing house that’s way up in the billions of dollars and gets bigger and bigger. That’s probably the only thing that makes me look like Bill Gates!”

“I’m kidding about having only a few dollars. I might have a few dollars more.”

“Having fun, got money to boot.”

“The hardest thing about being James Brown is I have to live. I don’t have no down time.”

“Retire for what? What would I do? I made my name as a person that is helping. I’m like Moses in the music business.”

“You only live once.”

“We’d rather die on our feet, than be livin’ on our knees.”

“Sometimes you struggle so hard to feed your family one way, you forget to feed them the other way—with spiritual nourishment. Everybody needs that.”

“Take those kids and raise them up, teach them how to drink out of a righteous cup.”

“Like Christ said, love thee one another. I learned to do that, and I learned to respect and be appreciative and thankful for what I had.”

“I just thank God for all of the blessings.”

“Thank God for the journey. I’m going away tonight.”

Cory Johnson: likes bumping #OnRepeat through the Bang & Olufsen sound system in his naturally aspirated V10; post-workout pumps; big boobs; dumb comedy; and your mom’s potato salad. He hates awkward handshakes. But who cares? Let’s talk about you.