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Song of the Day: Marva Whitney, “It’s My Thing” + The Isley Brothers, “It’s Your Thing”

Another “I can take a hint” selection. This amazing slice of funk turned up not too long ago on one of the music blogs I follow—Funky16Corners—and then an Australian friend mentioned it to me. He’d been going to see Whitney last year when she collapsed with a stroke while on tour down under.

Marva Whitney, “It’s My Thing” (1969)

Whitney is “considered by many funk enthusiasts to be one of the “rawest” and “brassiest” music divas” (Wikipedia), and this song certain supports that view.

Marva Whitney: It’s My Thing (expanded edition): “Marva Whitney was one of the greatest singers in the James Brown stable of stars during the late 60s – and she sang with a hard raw style worth of The Godfather himself!…” (via Dusty Groove America.)

((( Marva Whitney > Biography ))): “Although she’s not a household name, Marva Whitney is fondly remembered by funk devotees as one of the rawest, brassiest, most powerful divas the music ever produced. Along with fellow funk belters Lyn Collins and Vicki Anderson, Whitney made her name singing with the James Brown Revue for a few years, and her limited, much-sampled recordings for Brown-associated labels now fetch astronomical sums on the collector’s market….” (via allmusic.)

Whitney’s song is a response to another awesome piece of funk from the same year—The Isley Brothers, “It’s Your Thing”—and one of the things I like about the Whitney track is that it made me listen again, and closely, to the Isley’s song.  Of course, I’ve been listening to it all my life, but still—wow. It’s really perfect, such a propulsive groove, and I love that oh so memorable opening funky strum. The Isley Brothers had an interesting career, with a big hit in 1959 with “Shout” (which regained attention when it appeared in the movie Animal House), and then another hit a few years later with “Twist & Shout”—famously covered by The Beatles, of course (and appearing in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)—and then another big hit in 1969 with this song, and then an altered lineup and another big hit with that 70s funk classic “That Lady.” A long career with some amazing songs.

Here’s Whitney “performing” (sounds like lip-sync to me) “It’s My Thing” on the Mike Douglas TV show:

For more…

Filed under: Song of the Day, ,

One Response

  1. […] of the Day: James Brown, “Make It Funky” Writing about Marva Whitney and The Isley Brothers yesterday got me feeling funky… So, here’s the […]

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows


is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

tweeting my mind



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