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Freaky Friday: James Brown covers Hoagy Carmichael's 'Georgia On My Mind'

by Nicole Oran   Dec 27, 2013 11:50 AM EST

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At Music Times, we love a good cover song. There's something wonderful about repurposing music and essentially bringing life to another creation. Music is not a rigid and inflexible product but rather a malleable one that allows songs to take on a new life as others reimagine it. Nothing gets a crowd more excited than seeing one of their favorite bands cover one of their favorite songs. The cover song makes music accessible to new audiences, and spreading music is what we are all about.
Welcome to Freak Friday. Each week we highlight a new cover song that we're crazy about. Have suggestions? Send them our way! This week, we give you...

Song: "Georgia On My Mind"
Cover Artist: James Brown
Original Artist: Howard "Hoagy" Carmichael

Why We Love It: Composer, Pianist, Singer and Actor Hoagy Carmichael composed the original song "Georgia On My Mind" in 1929, later made famous by Ray Charles. Carmichael died on this day, December 27, in 1981 at age 82. Although Charles was the one to make the song a universal hit, it is one of the most covered songs ever written. James Brown put his signature touch on the track in 1970 and released it via King Records. His version is a stand out because it provides a prominent yet respectful juxtaposition from the original.

Background: Carmichael was one of the first true composers of pop music in the United States. His hits, and some of the most recorded songs in American history included "Georgia On My Mind," "Stardust," "The Nearness Of You," and "Heart and Soul." He was close to bowing out of the music industry in New York before creating these hits because of the stock market crash, but with the help of Duke Ellington's agent and Louis Armstrong recording Carmichael's song "Rockin' Chair," he was thankfully able to continue composing. He later went on to become famous in the industry, rubbing shoulders with the likes of George Gershwin, Fred Astaire and Duke Ellington. "Georgia On My Mind" has been covered by Louis Armstrong, Michael Bolton, Dean Martin, Zac Brown Band, Usher, Billie Holiday, John Mayer, The Righteous Brother, Tom Jones, Coldplay, Willie Nelson, Ella Fitzgerald and many others.

Listen to the original version of Hoagy Carmichael's song below, followed by the soulful rendition by James Brown.

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