© 2024 New Hampshire Public Radio

Persons with disabilities who need assistance accessing NHPR's FCC public files, please contact us at publicfile@nhpr.org.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Purchase your tickets for a chance to win $35k toward a new car or $25k in cash during NHPR's Summer Raffle!

Go-Go Becomes The Official Music Of Washington, D.C.

NOEL KING, HOST:

For decades, Go-go has been the unofficial music of Washington, D.C. But today, its status becomes official when the city's mayor signs some legislation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Wind me up.

CHUCK BROWN: A little bit louder.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Wind me up.

BROWN: Oh, I love you so much.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Since the 1970s, Go-go's free-flowing funk has been associated with the nation's capital and with musician Chuck Brown, who was known as the Godfather of Go-go. Brown was a constant on the D.C. scene. Here he is talking to NPR a few years before his death in 2012.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

BROWN: It's a groove. It's a feeling, you know, that goes on and on and on. That's why they call it Go-go.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUSTIN' LOOSE")

BROWN: (Singing) I feel like busting loose, busting loose now. Busting loose in the evening. Busting loose can be pleasing.

GREENE: Brown's song "Bustin' Loose" topped the R&B singles chart in 1979, and now it plays after Nationals home runs, also on the ice after every Capitals win.

KING: But D.C. has been changing, and so has Go-go's place in the city. Here's NPR's hip-hop correspondent Rodney Carmichael.

RODNEY CARMICHAEL, BYLINE: D.C.'s complexion has changed over the years. And I think music is just one of those defining characteristics that really reveals the complexion of a city. I think Go-go is kind of that last bastion of the chocolate in D.C.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHUCK BROWN'S "BUSTIN' LOOSE")

KING: Last year, someone living in a luxury apartment building threatened to sue a D.C. cellphone shop that regularly played Go-go music really loudly.

GREENE: After that, there were protests and a campaign to protect the city's cultural heritage. Rodney says this new legislation is a big win for that campaign.

CARMICHAEL: They're trying to uphold the culture. You know, cultural erasure is really, like, that last rail of gentrification.

GREENE: So let's turn it up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE COME TO PARTY")

BROWN: (Singing) We come to party, we ain't bother nobody. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.