Review #127: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Ray Charles

Karla Clifton
3 min readJul 4, 2021

#127: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Ray Charles

A humiliating admission: I kind of knew that Ray Charles & Stevie Wonder were blind when I started out on this project, but I wasn’t actually sure.

Well, now I’m sure. Ray Charles & Stevie Wonder were/are both blind. For more musicians you might not have known were blind, check out Wikipedia’s “Blind musicians” page. (This journey has taken me strange places.)

I also had a moment of divine inspiration when listening to this one: A little voice in my head said suddenly, Wasn’t Ray Charles on the Elf soundtrack? So I looked it up, and he was! His performance of “Winter Wonderland” plays at the very end.

Does that mean Ray Charles has an inimitable, classic sound, or that I’ve seen Elf too many times? Probably both.

FAVORITE SONGS:

“Bye Bye Love” — I was kind of surprised when this came on, because the title of this album says it’s about “Country and Western Music,” which I associate with, you know, twang and banjos. But like the RS blurb says, “Country and soul were deeply entangled Southern traditions and had been cross-pollinating for years.”

“You Don’t Know Me” — I don’t love slow love songs, but some of these really old romantic songs get me.

“Just A Little Lovin’ (Will Go A Long Way)” — This was the song that made me realize that he was on the Elf soundtrack.

“Born To Lose” — Oh man, now all of these songs remind me of Christmas.

“I Can’t Stop Loving You” — One of the other slow songs that I really loved.

“Hey Good Lookin’” Heeeyyyy good lookin’! Whaaaaatcha got cookin’! This is a Hank Williams cover — he’s #132. (Which is coming up — oh boy, more country music!)

“You Are My Sunshine” — I just love reimagined jazzy covers of nursery rhyme standards. I had to go digging to find this incredible backup singer, but her name was Margie Hendrix!

“Someday (You’ll Want Me To Want You)” — The ones that swing a little are great.

“Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles” — Finally, a song I can relate to. Leave me alone!

“Oh, Lonesome Me” — Wow, this is a cover of a Don Gibson and Chet Atkins song! I guess it’s an extremely popular cover song. We’ve actually already heard a really slow, gorgeous version of it on Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush (#90).

“Take These Chains From My Heart” — Very Charlie Brown Christmas.

“Your Cheatin’ Heart” — Another one I knew!

“Hang Your Head In Shame” — This song is designed to make any and all listeners feel guilty. How passive-aggressive. I love it.

LEAST FAVORITE SONGS:

“Worried Mind” — Even though these songs are all so beautiful, I have a very low saturation point for slow sappy love songs. Like, three love songs on an album is the saturation point. And oh my God, there were three slow songs for every fast song. My face started to feel numb. I tried to be generous because some of these were beautiful songs, but some of them made me want to tear my face off. This was one of them.

“Careless Love” — This was another.

“No Letter Today” — This has to be the last one.

“Teardrops In My Heart” — You’re killing me, Ray.

IS RS FULL OF IT?

Released in 1962, Modern Sounds is the earliest album we’ve seen yet. I had heard three of these songs before. It’s clear that pop culture has a short memory, which makes the fact that his sound has stayed relevant even more impressive.

Plus, he was on the Elf soundtrack!

Review #126: My Life, Mary J. Blige

Review #128: A Night At The Opera, Queen

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