TwitterFacebookGoogleEmailRSS

A Ray Charles Education

Setting:  Living room circa 1965

Characters:         4 year old boy; his dad

Props:   Record player; “Ray Charles Greatest Hits” album.

Fade In:

Dad:  “and if you think that sounded good, check this out.”

(Music enters): Boom, boom, boom, boom. Boom, boom, boom, boom. “Hit the road, Jack and don’t you come back, no more, no more, no more, no more.”

Boy:     [Runs around the room in circles over and over for exactly 2 minutes until the song finishes].

Dad:       “And that’s Ray Charles.  Still want to listen to Percy Faith?”

Boy:       [Vigorously nods no repeatedly].

Dad:       “I thought so.”  Leaves room.

Boy:      [Goes over to record player to play the song again.  Luckily for him, it’s the first song on that side].

(Music enters): Boom, boom, boom, boom. Boom, boom, boom, boom. “Hit the road, Jack and don’t you come back, no more, no more, no more, no more.”

Boy:       [Runs around the room in circles over and over for exactly 2 minutes until the song finishes].

Fade out and in to 2012 Living Room with 50 year old boy and his Dad

Dad:  “and if you think that sounded good, check this out.”

[Music enters]: Boom, boom, boom, boom. Boom, boom, boom, boom. “Hit the road, Jack and don’t you come back, no more, no more, no more, no more.”

Boy:       [Runs around the room in circles over and over for exactly 2 minutes until the song finishes].

Boy:  “Remember when I used to do that?”

Dad:  “Some things are timeless.”

Indeed they are.   While most people have forgotten Mr. Acker Bilk, Shelley Fabares, Little Eva, the Sensations and other top Billboard artists from this time of the 60s, the “father of soul” is still known as just “The Genius” to many listeners not even alive when he first started recording.

Ray pioneered soul music by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel and blues styles into his compositions and covers.  Ranked as number 10 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Artists of All Time list, he also helped break down racial barriers in pop and country music with his crossover hits.  Most singers before Ray used words alone to convey their musical message but he used sounds like slurs, wails, screams and shouts.

Ray’s first hit, Confession Blues, was recorded in 1949 and his last, Here We Go Again, in 2004.  Not too many people can boast about hitting the charts in 7 different decades.   Winning his first Grammy in 1960 and his last posthumously in 2005 is also pretty amazing.  He also was a father beginning in the 50s and ending in the 80s.  Not too many people can boast about having children in 4 decades either!

Ray’s music is still heard a lot today.  Who would ever imagine that Ray’s version of America the Beautiful would be covered by the Jersey Surf drum and bugle corps?  And it even included the piano introduction!  Or that Hit the Road Jack would be played every time an opponent fouls out at a Chicago Bulls game?  Which they don’t do enough!  From concert bands to cover bands, movies and TV shows, his music is still constantly performed in many different venues.   And it should be.  As my Dad said “Still want to listen to Percy Faith?”

I think I’ll go run around the room in circles for a couple of minutes.  “Hit the Road Jack, and don’t you come back……”

 

Facebook0Twitter0Google+0tumblrPinterest0DiggLinkedIn0Email