Ray Charles – Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music

ray

*Picks up a record, dusts it off, and smiles like a fucking idiot while setting down the needle*

Imagine, if you can, Jay Z releasing a country album. Seriously, picture it for a sec. Fans would fucking hate it. And country fans in the Southern States might want to have a word with Jay Z that rhymes with “bang”. Twitter would blow the fuck up with comments from the trolling left and right. And with how things are politically at the moment in this world, you can imagine how purely vitriolic that hatred would be. 

Now, picture this same shit done in 1962. That’s right motherfuckers, you read that shit right: 1962. That’s at the height of the civil rights movement. So you can go ahead and jack up that racial divide by about a thousand-fucking-percent. Dude was at his prime. He had already released: “I Got a Woman,” “What’d I Say”, “Georgia on My Mind” and “Hit the Road Jack”. He didn’t need shock value to further his career. This wasn’t a gimmick. Everyone, black and white, rural and urban, told him not to make this album. But he did it anyways cause, straight up, Ray Charles was one of the baddest motherfuckers to have ever lived. 

Ray understood something that most motherfuckers don’t. Country and Blues come from the same fucking source. They speak a similar language. They tell the same stories. Hank Williams, who is basically the Country music version of Moses, learned how to play guitar from a man called Rufus “Tee Tot” Payne, a black Blues musician. The lessons and style of Blues bled right into Hank’s songs: Speak simply, write about pain, and try and make that shit sound somewhat happy. Funny how both the movie “Ray” and the movie “I Saw the Light” (movie about Hank Williams) don’t highlight this topic too much. Though, nobody’s fucking surprised by this. Cause trying to draw a line between these two genres is still ballsy as all fuck. The general motherfucker doesn’t want their genres touching on the plate. Leave it to a blind man to see Country and Blues in the same fucking colour.

Doing something ballsy can be noble and all, but execution is fucking everything. Done badly? This would have been the end of Ray. Fortunately, Ray fucking owns. When those female background singers sing in “Bye Bye, Love” you know who they fucking are. You can feel them. I picture them driving home after the recording session. You know their personalities. One of them chews too much gum and the other is snarky as all fuck. The recording is top-fucking-notch. The songs are bright and fantastically written and performed. It’s a perfect fucking album.

Whenever all this political shit gets out of hand which, seems like all the fucking time, I like to put on this album. Telling a stranger why they’re wrong isn’t going to do jack-fucking-shit. You’re more likely to implode into a Greek salad with mother issues than change somebody’s mind online. Take a lesson from Ray, find similarities, cause there will always be similarities, and try and create something new out of this shit. Who knows, it might end up being fucking beautiful. 

 

 

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