If Robert Nesta Marley is the King, the Crowned Prince, (declared by Marley himself) is Dennis Emmanuel Brown.
This legendary reggae crooner began singing at 11 years old and continued on to record 75 albums. Many of you have seen the passion with which I’ve written about Bob Marley for my Black History Month Selection on JeffPearlman.com…
My memories of Brown began while sifting through a pile of records exceeding my own 6 year old height. They belonged to my father, we sat one afternoon in his Crown Heights abode.
“What’s this?” I am holding up one of the squares. It’s red.
He smiles. “Dennis Brown! ‘im baaadd yuh know.”
My mother, too, expressed this sentiment not in so many words.
In the middle of the brown carpet, on a Saturday night, any Saturday night, Donna would scoop me from in front of the television and into her arms. A sound akin to a streefighting cat best describes her singing. What beats and rhythms she hears I still don’t know, they most certainly never match what’s playing.
“Stop dancing me!” I’d protest.
Did I think this helped? The feline’s pain increased, as evidenced by it’s louder volume.
Sooner or later I’d succumb.
She would not let me go.
She continued to squeal.
Thankfully Dennis Brown’s velvety voice would eventually prevail.
“Have you ever beeeen innnn looove”
Uh oh, here comes the high note.
Years later I’d stumble back across this song on old cassette tapes, seredipitously looking for something else. I suppose this is the feeling classic music invokes, it sets you directly into the memory, as if it really isn’t a memory at all.
Dennis Brown is undoubtebly one of
my favorite the best artists ever to grace a stage.