The Great Plotnik

Monday, June 17, 2013

Watching Ray Again

Just got done watching "Ray" again. Somebody once told us you never love any music more than the music you loved when you were sixteen years old. That's about right. Listening to Ray singing and playing those old songs still hits a place inside me no other music ever has, every will.

No one could sing and play like Ray Charles. I mean, lots of people can hit the notes, figure out the chords and learn the gospel and jazz voicings, but no one has ever done it with as much soul as Ray Charles, and by soul I probably mean heart and by heart I probably mean power and by power I probably mean pain.

Maybe Stevie Wonder has come the closest. But Stevie is a generation younger and he grew up in big city Detroit, not Jim Crow rural Florida. Stevie signed a Motown record contract when he was eleven. I doubt he ever had to play the chit'lin circuit.

At my High School reunion last month several of the women told me they remembered me trying to tell them all about Ray, bringing his records to school. I don't remember. What did I do with the records? Was there a record player in my high school?

For sure, at home I taught myself every song on the "The Genius of Ray Charles" album, not realizing that these were all songs from the 1930s and 1940s, standards I thought I hated. "It Had to Be You," "Alexander's Ragtime Band," Am I Blue?" "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," "Just for a Thrill." God bless my dear Mom, because that was a period in our lives when she just had me and the piano, and I must have driven her crazy listening to me play those songs over and over and over. I was no Ray Charles. But she never said a word.

And then "Georgia" and "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "I'm Movin' On" and "Born to Lose."

Once in Australia a bass player I knew took me to a club in King's Cross where the jazz guys all went after hours, and when they heard I was playing with a band in Sydney they insisted I go up on stage and sing a song for them. It was late and Aussie beer is very good and the only song that came under my fingers was "Georgia." They pronounce it "Joe-dja." Not many people knew Joe-dja was a state but they all knew every word to the song.

I never get tired of that movie.


At 10:59 AM, Blogger mary ann said...

oh, this is one fine post...


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