Pic of the Week: Dr. Funkenstein

George Clinton performs at the Library of Congress on Oct. 31. Photo by Amanda Reynolds.

George Clinton performs at the Library of Congress on Oct. 31. Photo by Amanda Reynolds.














In 1994, I had the pleasure of meeting funk singer-songwriter George Clinton while attending the Lollapalooza music festival in New Orleans. Clinton and his P-Funk All Stars were main-stage performers that year. A friend of mine and myself were able to get backstage after meeting one of the members of his band. Clinton and his crew were getting ready in their trailer, and I had a chance to chat with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer for a very brief moment. Following, we enjoyed a front-and-center view of his performance, which was fantastic.

Twenty years later, things came full circle of sorts when Clinton was here at the Library last Friday. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, he was here promoting his book, “Brothers Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?” and speaking about his decades-long musical career.

“Funkin’ ain’t hard at all,” said the 73-year-old funk pioneer as he took the Coolidge Auditorium stage to be interviewed by James Funk of WPFW.

The two bantered back and forth for the next 20 minutes, discussing just about everything, including Clinton’s early days with The Parliaments in the 1960s, developing his musical collective during the 70s known both as Parliament and Funkadelic, his efforts to win back rights to much of his popular music and the indelible mark his music has made on contemporary artists of today.

“We were too late getting to Motown, and we didn’t fit into that mold,” said Clinton. “We went psychedelic ‘loud Motown.’ We made our own niche and then didn’t have to compete.”

Clinton said his fan base grew slowly but steadily. When his 1975 album “Mothership Connection” came out, it “blew the whole thing wide open.” It became Parliament’s first album to be certified gold and later platinum. The Library also added the album to the National Recording Registry in 2011 for its “enormous influence on jazz, rock and dance music.”

“I’ve enjoyed all the time it took to get where I’m at,” he said of his career’s successes and setbacks.

While Clinton didn’t bring the weird on the Halloween afternoon – gone were the multi-colored dreadlocks and flashy clothes that I remembered, along with is costume-clad band – he did bring the funk, rousing the crowd with a musical medley of some of his greatest hits. And, he was just as entertaining.

Library Hosts Columbus Day Open House

(The following is a guest post by Library of Congress reference librarian Abby Yochelson.) This Monday, the Library of Congress holds its annual Columbus Day Open House in the Main Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building. Every year, excited tourists and school groups from all over the United States and around the world, families […]

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage: Feliz Cumpleaños, Hispanic Division

(Today is the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated annually Sept. 15-Oct. 15. This year, the Library’s Hispanic Division marks its 75th anniversary. The following is an article from the July-August 2014 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine .) Dating back to the middle ages, the Library’s Hispanic world collections are the largest in […]

Out of the Ashes

(The following is an article written by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer for the Center for the Book, featured in the September-October 2012 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine. Aug. 24 was the 200th anniversary of the burning of the Capitol building and the Library.) The story of the phoenix that rises triumphantly from its […]

Library in the News: July 2014 Edition

The Library of Congress had two major announcements in July, featuring well-known public figures, that garnered several headlines. Billy Joel was named the next recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Stories ran in Rolling Stone, the Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Today Show. Joel was also featured as […]

Junior Fellows Show Off Summer Finds

(The following is an article written by Rosemary Girard, intern in the Library of Congress Office of Communications, for the Library staff newsletter, The Gazette.) After weeks of researching, curating and unearthing some of the Library of Congress’s millions of artifacts, members of the Junior Fellows Program had a chance to present their most interesting […]

Rare Map on Display at Library Scored Some “Firsts”

(The following is a guest post by Wendi A. Maloney, writer-editor in the U.S. Copyright Office.) Engraver Abel Buell “came out of nowhere,” at least in terms of cartography, when he printed a United States map in 1784. “He’d never done a map before,” says Edward Redmond of the Library’s Geography and Map Division. Nonetheless, […]

Library in the News: May 2014 Edition

As May came to an end, so did the second and final term of Natasha Trethewey as U.S. Poet Laureate. She gave her final lecture at the Library of Congress on May 14. “At the Library of Congress on Wednesday night, Trethewey began, as she often does, with her personal history and then moved into […]

The Library in History: Library Analyst Helped Launch NASA

(The following is a story written by Cory V. Langley, a communications specialist in the Congressional Research Service, that is featured in the May – June 2014 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM, now available for download here. You can also view the archives of the Library’s former publication from 1993 to 2011. Amid fear and anxiety […]