Before Superbad was a funny movie about high school, Super Bad was an awesome funky song by James Brown. (Probably not a coincidence, considering the funky score of Superbad the movie.)
I was introduced to Super Bad‘s awesomeness in college. Me and my friend Jason worked out in the gym at our small liberal arts college. Yes, when everyone we knew was getting stoned and reading Sappho, Jason and I spent a little time exercising. There were other students at the gym, most of them in varsity sports. That made us an anomaly – average guys lifting weights. It was a little weird to be perceived as athletic. I’m no jock, but if you stood me up next to a dozen of my History major peers I suddenly looked like the epitome of health.
The majority of people in the gym at any given time were townies, which suited us just fine. Everyone kind of did their own thing. Well, everyone except the Boombox Guy.
The Boombox Guy was an African American fellow who wore a headband and wristbands. His workout clothes stand out in my mind because they came straight out of the Seventies. I only wish he had a goatee or sweet moustache, but my memory has him clean shaven. Of course, he never entered the gym without his Boombox.
The gym didn’t have its own sound system, so normally you’d just hear the sounds of people lifting weights up and setting weights down. When the Boombox Guy was there, you got to hear James Brown.
I’m pretty sure it was a Greatest Hits tape because the same handful of songs played over and over. It was great. Soul, or funk, or whatever you want to call it, was absolutely perfect for the gym. And when Super Bad came on, James was right there, pushing me toward greater feats of strength. “Uplifting” doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling. I was Superman. A scrawny, redheaded, nearsighted Superman. Yeah.
For some reason they never play the right music in any gym I’ve been since college. I can’t figure out why. Play Motown. Play Stax. Play James Freaking Brown, for chrissakes. Or go the other way and play AC/DC. It isn’t quantum mechanics, it’s workout music. It should make you feel good.
My thanks go out to that guy in Ohio for bringing his boombox. He’s got the feelin’.