Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

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"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag Part I"
Single by James Brown and the Famous Flames
B-side"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag Part II"
ReleasedJune 1965 (1965-06)
RecordedFebruary 1965
StudioArthur Smith Studios, Charlotte, North Carolina
GenreSoul, funk[1]
  • 1:55 (Part I)

length mentioned on single; actual playing time was 2:03

  • 2:12 (Part II)
LabelKing (5999)
Songwriter(s)James Brown
Producer(s)James Brown
James Brown charting singles chronology
"Have Mercy Baby"
"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag Part I"
"Try Me"
Audio sample

"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" is a song written and recorded by James Brown.[2] Released as a two-part single in 1965, it was Brown's first song to reach the Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten, peaking at number eight, and was a number-one R&B hit, topping the charts for eight weeks.[3][4] It won Brown his first Grammy Award, for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording.[5]

Consolidating the rhythmic innovations of earlier James Brown recordings such as "I've Got Money" and "Out of Sight", "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" is considered seminal in the emergence of funk music as a distinct style. As Brown sings the praises of an old man brave enough to get out on the dance floor of a nightclub ("brand new bag" meaning new interest, taste, or way of doing something[6]), his band provides a horn-heavy backdrop with a prominent rhythm and an electric guitar riff for a hook. Both singer and musicians place overwhelming emphasis on the first beat of each measure ("on the One"). The song is Brown's first recording to feature Jimmy Nolen on guitar.

The taped recording of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" was edited and sped up for its single release, increasing the tempo and raising the pitch by a half step. In 1991, the recording was released in unedited form at its original speed on the box set Star Time.[7] The track includes lead-in studio chatter, with Brown throatily (and presciently) shouting "This is a hit!" just before the drum and horn intro.


In 2004, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" was ranked number 72 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. (In 2010, the magazine updated its list, and the song was moved up a rank to number 71.)[8] The song is currently ranked as the 121st greatest song of all time, as well as the eighth-best song of 1965, by Acclaimed Music.[9]

In 1999, the 1965 recording of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (Part 1)" by James Brown on King Records was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[10]

Other recordings[edit]

An instrumental version of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" was released as the B-side of Brown's 1965 single from Smash called "Try Me". He also recorded a big band jazz arrangement of the song with Louie Bellson's Orchestra for his 1970 album Soul on Top.

Live performances of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" appear on the albums Hot on the One, Live in New York, Soul Session Live, Live at the Apollo 1995, and the 2009 Expanded Edition of Live at the Garden. It is also featured in medleys on Love Power Peace and Say It Live and Loud.

Cover versions[edit]


  • James Brown – lead vocals

with the James Brown Band:

  • Joe Dupars – trumpet
  • Ron Tooley – trumpet
  • Levi Rasbury – trombone
  • Wilmer Milton – trombone
  • Nat Jones – alto saxophone
  • Maceo Parker – tenor and baritone saxophones
  • St. Clair Pinckney – tenor saxophone
  • Eldee Williams – tenor saxophone
  • Al "Brisco" Clark – tenor saxophone
  • Nat Jones – organ
  • Jimmy Nolen – guitar
  • Sam Thomas or Bernard Odum – bass
  • Melvin Parker – drums

References and uses in popular culture[edit]

Pigbag's 1981 single "Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag" is an instrumental version of Brown's original.

"Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse", an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, was named for the song. The song's title was also referenced by The Simpsons episode "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge".

The 2013 musical Kinky Boots contains the line "Papa's got a brand new shoe" in the song "Everybody Say Yeah" (music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper).

Towards the end of one of the mixes of Public Enemy's 1994 song "Give It Up", Flavor Flav is heard to say "Papa's got a brand new bag." The same line is also heard in the rap part of Color Me Badd's 1991 single "Color Me Badd" and Big Daddy Kane's 1989 song "Warm It Up, Kane".

In 1990, the song was featured in an episode of The Wonder Years (season 3, episode 15), "The Tree House". Later it was featured in the 1993 film Mrs. Doubtfire.[16]

A remix of the song was played in the official Season 6 trailer of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019).[17]

Eminem's song "Just Lose It" features the lyric "Papa's got a brand new bag of toys".


  1. ^ Big Gigantic (September 20, 2016). "The 30 Best Funk Songs Ever". Billboard. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  2. ^ James Brown interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1970)
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 84.
  4. ^ White, Cliff (1991). "Discography". In Star Time (pp. 54–59) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  5. ^ Brown at AllMusic.
  6. ^ Definition of bag, sense 6, Merriam-Webster.
  7. ^ Leeds, Alan, and Harry Weinger (1991). "Star Time: Song by Song". In Star Time (pp. 46–53) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  8. ^ "'Rolling Stone' Updates '500 Greatest Songs' List". 28 May 2010. Archived from the original on 29 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Acclaimed Music Top 3000 songs". Acclaimed Music. 27 May 2009.
  10. ^
  11. ^ The McCoys, Hang On Sloopy Retrieved June 24, 2015
  12. ^ The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Together Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  13. ^ The Arabic Funk Of Fadoul Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  14. ^ Čovek rado izvan sebe živi at Discogs
  15. ^ Courtney Hadwin ‘robbed’ of $1 million America’s Got Talent prize as reported in Evening Standard on 20 September 2018. Retrieved January 26, 2023
  16. ^ "James Brown"., Inc. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  17. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® & Warzone™ - Official Season Six Trailer" – via YouTube.

External links[edit]