Your Lovin’ Beats Your Hoggin’

You Know I’m hooked for you mama
That’s why you sling your weight around

But as long as your lovin’ beats your hoggin’
Little Girl I’ll never put you down

Three times convicted on drug offences, 12 children to 9 different mothers and Willie Nelson’s chess partner, welcome Ray Charles! I have a 1962 Ray Charles Greatest Hits, which is basically missing my two favourite Charles songs ‘What I Say’ and ‘Mess Around’.  In my ignorance I’d always thought of Ray Charles as a fast R&B, borderline rock and roller, this is an altogether much smoother affair and I was disappointed after picking this up in a bunch of discarded LPs in my dad’s shed*.

Ray Charles Greatest Hits 04

I know, I know, Ray Charles is a sacred object and I can dig the beauty and precise of economy of his playing and singing on the likes of ‘But On The Other Hand Baby’ (one of only two Charles co-writes here), however I crave something a little rawer – I accept the fault is mine, all mine.  If I was a more sophisticated kinda fella ‘Them That Got’ would probably elicit more than a wry smile from me and a tap of the foot.  The swinging ‘One Mint Julep’ is great but it just leaves me really wanting more of that organ sound from him.  I think it’s only fair to disclose I carry around a gigantic irrational ravening hatred of the song ‘Hit The Road Jack’ with me everywhere I go, like a heavy ball of jagged black flint.

Always loved that logo
Always loved that logo
Closest I could find to a Lego dog tonight ... a skateboarding giant white rabbit.
Closest I could find to a Lego dog tonight … a skateboarding giant white rabbit.

The revelation on Ray Charles Greatest Hits for me is ‘Unchain My Heart’, it is just brilliant.  That hybrid Latin & B rhythm and Charles’ perfectly judged delivery, horns so sharp they draw blood and David ‘Fathead’ Newman’s sax … wow, perfecto.  Plus there are huge 1537 bonus points awarded for the ‘misery/beans for me/set me free’ rhyme scheme:

Unchain my heart, you worry me night and day
Why lead me through a life of misery
When you don’t care a bag of beans for me
So unchain my heart, oh please, please set me free

Ray Charles Greatest Hits 01Ray Charles Greatest Hits 08

Now ‘Georgia On My Mind’ was no revelation to me simply because I seem to have always known and loved it.  Can you think of a song that’s ever been sung better? I can’t, off the top of my head, it is just majestic.  Even before Ray sings that swelling instrumentation has me all nostalgic and yearning for somewhere I’ve never been.  No wonder Georgia adopted it as their official state song**.  It is quite simply perfect, a renowned soul-singer once said of the song’s impact upon him,

‘I was about 15. In the middle of the night with friends, we were listening to jazz. It was “Georgia on My Mind”, Ray Charles’s version. Then I thought ‘One day, if I make some people feel only one twentieth of what I am feeling now, it will be quite enough for me.’*^

I particularly like the fact that the LP that Charles first recorded the track for was called The Genius Hits The Road, that’s my kind of modesty in action!

Ray Charles Greatest Hits 05

As if any civilized person would use anything other than Emitex!!
As if any civilized person would use anything other than Emitex!!

Well I’ve played Ray Charles Greatest Hits three more times today than I have since I obtained it in 2010, dutifully skipping that song twice, and it has been a pleasant enough dalliance, there’s more lovin’ than hoggin’ here, I particularly enjoyed being surprised by ‘Unchain My Heart’, but the LP hasn’t unchained my own one.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to reminisce some more about an old sweet song keeping Georgia on my mind.

679 Down.

*for other examples of this parental phenomenon see here.

**Rumours that Ohio are going to do the same for Nashville Pussy’s ‘Gonna Hitchhike Down To Cincinnati And Kick The Shit Outta Your Drunk Daddy’ are swelling at the time of going to press.

*^Roger ‘The Soul Man’ Waters, no less. His moving soul ballads ‘One Of These days …’ and ‘Waiting For The Worms’, do it for me.

28 thoughts on “Your Lovin’ Beats Your Hoggin’

  1. Two songs off the ‘In the Heat of the Night’ stuck with CB. ‘Fowl Owl’ and the title track by RC. Some teaser organ for you and lots of other good stuff. Some smokin sax starts it off. You probably know all this.

  2. “E-excuse me, uh, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the action on this piano”

    Nor to I find anything particularly offensive about ‘Hit the road, Jack’. Presumably it is how at least 8 of those 9 mothers addressed Mr C.

  3. I think I’d have been inclined to leave this in the shed! The risk of schmaltz is too high on a Ray greatest hits compilation. No doubt the man has some great moments (mentioned here), but he veered a bit too close to the earnesty schmaltzy goo goo on occasion, too.

    … and I don’t care how good he was, or how great Georgia On My Mind and Unchain My Heart Are, there’s unprecedented minus points for Hit The Road Jack!

  4. I am more impressed that you found a decent 1962 LP in your Dad’s shed. Surely the shed is airtight. How long were they out there? I worry for the health and welfare of the LPs, you know. Why would your Dad even put them in the shed in the first place?

    Me, I like Ray pretty much unreservedly. Even the schmalzy Country Side Of Ray Charles that I heard recently – the backing singers straight outta Lawrence WelkLand… the strength of his voice and playing raises the level to another, er, level.

    Also, what’s wrong with Hit The Road, Jack? Overexposure? You don’t like be told to go away? How can you resist that funky bass line? Does this mean you don’t like K-OS’ Crabbuckit?

    1. He got given a load of LPs by someone whose son was throwing them out – mostly trash, but some great stuff too. He picked the ones he wanted and shedded the rest.

      I only saw your Ray post after I did my own and that is supposed to be a real classic one too.

      Funnily enough that track has always just rubbed me up the wrong way, who knows why?

      1. Man, I love it when someone ditches a huge pile of LPs on me. Brother Craig did the same thing to me, but I didn’t put any of them in the shed. 🙂

        Yeah, Geoff said that country one was on the 1001!

  5. Joe, with that “Three times…” intro, you would have made a fine hype man/master of ceremonies!
    And laughed out loud at the Ohio following Georgia’s lead – if you’ve seen the John Oliver piece on the Republican National Convention recently held there, it’s clear stranger things have happened.
    And he had an album on the 1001 “The Genius of Ray Charles” I believe – such humility!

    1. Thank you, thank you. I have an uncle who MCs a Victorian music hall attraction for a living, maybe it’s a family thang.

      I did see that piece (shudders uncontrollably in fear).

      1. It’s still not really a feel good track. But it could be worse. Have you ever heard that song ‘Ohio Is For Lovers?’ I’m glad that’s not the state song.

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