June 10, 2004

Ray Charles…Gone.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:33 pm

dice.jpgThis has been a tough month. Ray Charles, a musical giant, died today at age 73.

I have no words to describe the musical gear that this man packed. Nobody, noBODY could consistently and successfully put his unique stamp on so many different kinds of music. After having “invented” soul music and having been one of the preeminent singers of jazz, pop, and big band music, he decided that he wanted to try his hand at “Country and Western” music. Many people in the music business thought he had lost his mind, and yet, his foray into “Country and Western” brought us “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and what is perhaps my favorite, “Born to Lose,” which just might be the best Cry-in-Your-Beer song ever.

He was the seminal singer of “soul” music, and no one could phrase a lyric better than Ray Charles. In addition, he was known in the music business as “One Take Ray,” because he was known to show up at a recording session and get it exactly right the first time. He was, however, according to an interview I heard of one of regular sidemen, tough as hell on drummers. His fellow musician said, “Ray would drive drummers crazy, because some of his songs are so slow.” Drummers never seemed to be able to play slow enough for Ray Charles. I can completely relate. Ray Charles never needed a drummer to keep the beat; he had an internal metronome that was flawless. A good drummer didn’t lead Ray Charles. A good drummer followed Ray Charles.

Man, he was great. What a loss.

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