JJ Barnes – Don’t Bring Me Bad News


JJ Barnes


Listen – JJ Barnes – Don’t Bring Me Bad News – MP3″

Compare to….


Listen – James Barnes & the Agents – Good & Funky – MP3″

Greetings all.

In the words of Cheech and or Chong, I am bumming, man…
As I’ve referred to several times in this space, the industry in which I am employed (and have been for more than two decades) is in dire straits. This is due to a number of factors, first and foremost mismanagement of the fourth estate by greedy mega-corporations who should have known better, compounded by the current economic shit storm we find ourselves embroiled in.
My fellow employees and I have known that a new round of layoffs was imminent, a fact that pretty much spoiled Thanksgiving for most of us. The axe fell today, and while yours truly was spared yet again (thank you jeebus…), one of my best friends at the paper, a guy that’s been a good buddy for the entire time I’ve been there, and who has seen some very tough times outside of work in the last few years, was given his walking papers, along with 91 other people (just at our location).
This is a cat who is both talented and dedicated to his craft (he’s an artist and writer), and now, after more than a quarter of a century of service to a once proud (and once privately owned*) newspaper, has to start from square one.
I had a tear in my eye when I went to his desk to say goodbye. I’ll miss the probably hundreds of lunch hours spent discussing music, old movies and politics, and the knowledge that in a relatively unpleasant environment, there was always a kindred spirit.
If you are so inclined, say a prayer for this man, and the thousands of other employees in the chain who have lost (or will lose) their jobs this week.
This is the second round of layoffs, following a period of ‘buyouts’, which combined have stripped our paper of well over 200 employees.
When I started out in newspaper production in 1984 – surrounded by older folks that had already seen the industry’s technological basis change once – I never imagined that I would still be at it 24 years later. Nor did I imagine that after that time had elapsed, I would be witnessing the slow (though not so slow these days) death of the industry.
I keep hearing talk of ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, while we all hold our breaths waiting for things to finally bottom out, and as a result I’m finding it very hard to remain optimistic.
It was an odd bit of synchronicity that I opened an e-mail from a friend last week and saw that there was going to be a record show at the Asbury Lanes on Sunday. The Funky16Corners fam had nothing terribly important on the agenda, and I hadn’t been digging in a while, so we loaded up the minivan and headed to the seaside.
I’d been through a couple of less than promising tables, before I spotted my man Mike, who always has the heat, and headed over to his crates, sure that I would leave with records in my hand and a much lighter wallet.
I scored some nice stuff – all of which you’ll see here in the coming months – but by far, the most interesting thing I picked up (and didn’t realize it at the time) is the tune I bring you today.
As soon as I saw the red Ric-Tic label, with the name JJ Barnes on it, I knew I had to check it out. When I saw that it was his smoking version of ‘Day Tripper’, it went right on to the keeper pile, and I kept on digging.
Later that evening, when I broke out the digi-ma-tization station, and got to recording, I flipped over said 45 to give the unfamiliar B-side a listen. It wasn’t too long before I realized that the song in question wasn’t quite as unfamiliar as I thought.
About 30 seconds into ‘Don’t Bring Me Bad News’ (prescient title, that…) I realized that what I was hearing was another use of the same backing track that had been used on ‘Good and Funky’ by James Barnes and the Agents. Back when I wrote up that 45, I mentioned that the track had been used on a JJ Barnes 45. I just happened to have gotten the specific 45 incorrect.
Interestingly enough, though the track is largely identical (the opening is edited differently on the two singles), the records manage to be fairly different stylistically. Where the James Barnes & the Agents side is rough and somewhat funky, the JJ Barnes side has a stylish veneer, with femme backing vocals and a smooth lead from the man himself. It’s a great study in contrasts, and evidence that the JJ Barnes 45 is one of the great two-siders to come out of mid-60s Detroit.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Friday, hopefully with something a little more upbeat.

*The paper I work at was a family owned business for the first 110 years of its existence. The original owners, eager to expand their non-print media business sold out to a huge international chain about ten years ago. I firmly believe that had we still been locally owned, we would have been in a much better position to weather the current economic downturn. Instead, we’re just another cog in a huge, faltering machine, being sucked down by the bad economic decisions at the top.

PS Remember to tune in this Thursday at 9PM for the Funky16Corners Radio Show on Viva Internet Radio.

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

10 Responses to “JJ Barnes – Don’t Bring Me Bad News”

  1. Stu Says:

    I’ve saved a prayer for your friend Larry, tough times indeed, I hope you can hang in there, we’re starting to feel the effects on this side of the pond too, with a lot of manufacturing jobs going or being shipped out to other countries – let’s hope it ‘bottoms out’ soon – yours – Stu

  2. Chad Says:

    You have my sympathies. I, too, work in the print biz and it’s been rough here as well. With a corporate structure trailing back to Australia (NOT Rupert, thankfully), there’s definitely a squeezing of the budget here (cutting back on hours, leaving vacancies open, etc.) We print in-house and that or the image setter are breaking down constantly. Very little investment in new equipment, blah blah.I hear several times a week how people here love the fact that our city of 8,500 has a 6-a-week daily, but will it stay that way? Who knows. Twice a week? Web only?
    Keep your head up, though. The need for media and the information we provide for people is a MUST!! Getting tougher to make a living doing it, but the need is still there maybe more than ever. Seems to be the question of what format it will take.
    In the meantime, thank you for all of the wonderful, wonderful music you bring to us through this blog. I can’t tell you how much you’ve helped me expand the horizon of that sweet soul music I dearly love.

  3. Vincent the Soul Chef Says:

    I too will say a prayer… may we all keep our heads up during these troubled times. 20 Jan 2009 can’t come soon enough.

    Peace and blessings.

  4. Colin Says:

    Oh man, I’m sorry to hear about your friend. I myself worked at a (formerly family-owned) newspaper a few years back, and often lamented alongside my coworkers that such a talented, dedicated group of people who provided such a valuable and necessary service to the community could live in such constant fear of cutbacks and layoffs. The Death of Newspaper was a persistent topic of discussion — at least among those who could stomach it — and the online department was always the only one hiring. I maintain that there will always be a place for a team of experts to report on the day’s events, perhaps now more than ever, but it’s scarily hazy what form that reporting will take.

    Oh, but like others have said, thank you for the reporting *you* do here on the site. You’ve not only opened my eyes to whole genres of music I knew little about, but provided a daily respite from the hamster wheel of work. It dawned on me recently that if I’ve got a dozen favorite songs, probably half of them are ones I found here. And your insights in each post only deepen the enjoyment, just as you probably intended. It’s a happy corner of my brain, the one occupied by Funky 16 Corners, and a happy corner of my life. For that, I couldn’t possibly thank you enough.

  5. funky16corners Says:

    Thanks Colin! That means a lot.

  6. W Says:

    Sad times. My thoughts go to your friend. Capitolism is a shameful beast.

  7. themusicologist Says:


    I’m no pessamist but the days of Job Security are almost over. Pretty soon the majority of us will be ‘self employed’, working part time as and when we are required. No more paid holidays, health insurance etc. Why? because, as you rightly point out, the owners of the globalised conglomerates don’t give a shit about people or the wider community. The financial ‘crisis’ has provided them with the opportunity to blame the lay-offs on the need to ‘tighten the company belt’… and the bosses, (whose wages and bonuses are always rising), have grabbed it with both hands. How many at the top are being laid off?

    At least we have the music…they can’t take that away…as always quality sounds from the funky16 vaults.


  8. W Says:

    So are Jimmy James “J.J. ” Barnes and James Barnes the same person?

  9. funky16corners Says:

    As far as I can tell, no. I suspect that ‘Jimmy Barnes” may not be that particular singer’s real name.

  10. JJ Barnes - Don’t Bring Me Bad News | ozhz.com Says:

    […] JJ Barnes – Don’t Bring Me Bad News […]

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