Watch video on Youtube »

some text
Mark Kennedy

My family thinks I'm crazy -- and they might be right.

After all, how many middle-age white guys on Signal Mountain do you think are stone-cold, funk music fans? I might be a club of one.

When I was a kid, I was something of a musical misfit. While all my friends in the 1970s were rocking out to Aerosmith and Peter Frampton, I was grooving to Parliment-Funkadelic, Tower of Power and Earth, Wind and Fire. (Think, Howdy Doody goes to the 'hood.)

Here's the thing: Funk music is like chicken pox, once it gets in your bloodstream it never leaves. Just like one day you might break out with shingles, I might one day spontaneously bust a move -- which, at my age, carries the risk of being misdiagnosed as a seizure.

My most recent dance trigger has been the insanely popular song "Uptown Funk," a modern classic featuring Bruno Mars, which some young people seem to think is a completely original, 21st century musical creation.

Give me a break.

"Uptown Funk," as any popular music historian can tell you, could have just as easily topped the R&B charts in 1979. With its percussive horn riffs, slap bass line, syncopated drum grooves and naughty lyrics, it is quintessential late-'70s funk -- a musical style that tragically got chewed up in the disco backlash.

Any time I get the chance -- read, any time my wife goes to Wal-Mart -- I crank up the stereo and pull up the OnDemand version of the Bruno Mars' video to get my funk fix. Then, in sock feet on a hardwood floor, I practice my James Brown moves -- after taking care to draw the shades and blindfold the children.

Somehow, I feel strangely vindicated by the popularity of "Uptown Funk," which seems to have unlocked dormant longings in the listening public. I have a hunch people are ready for something with a little more musical complexity than, um, rap.

Although my 8-year-old son covers his eyes and runs through the family room when I cue up "Uptown Funk," he seemed a bit perplexed with his 9-year-old buddy who came over and could sing every word of the song. Even my 13-year-old son, whose tastes run to rap and country -- how does that happen? -- knew enough of the lyrics to join in.

I suppose it's too much to hope that "Uptown Funk" could lead to a full-on funk revival. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I remember a few years ago seeing the Commodores at Riverbend and the crowd came unglued when they recognized the bass line to "Brick House."

On Monday night, I was watching a two-hour tribute to Stevie Wonder on NBC when Lady Gaga -- who incidentally has a trumpet tattoo on her right bicep -- took the room apart with a version of "I Wish," one of the funkiest, most danceable songs in Stevie's songbook. If Gaga and Bruno Mars are joining the funky bunch, maybe there really is a chance for a second-wave funk revival.

Good gosh, y'all. I'm ready.

Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at