Ray Charles would be 80 years old today. He remains my grandfather’s favorite musician of all time. A day just wasn’t complete if we didn’t listen to Brother Ray. My Pa Richard has every record, every cassette tape, every cd, every dvd that Ray ever released. I knew all the words to “Hit the Road, Jack” by the time I was five years old. I asked him once why he loved Ray Charles so much. My pa told me it was because he could relate to him. He explained to me that Ray had grown up dirt poor…with obstacles to overcome. My pa said that “Ray Charles was a good southern fellow who loved his Mama” and that he’d be pretty willing to bet Ray was a a democrat as well. Being southern and a democrat ranked a person pretty high in my grandpa’s book.
I’m sharing this video of Ray Charles singing my favorite of his songs…with his pal Willie Nelson. Willie is a character and has a certain appeal, but when Ray opens his mouth to sing, it’s like the words have new life. I’m glad I was exposed to music like this from an early age and I know I’ll always think of my pa when I hear a Ray Charles song. Happy Birthday Ray!