Friday, June 11, 2004

Ray Charles "We Only Play One Kind of Music..."

"...the good kind."

I had the pleasure of doing some work for Mr. Charles last year. I supplied him with a nice piece of expensive recording gear, and this required that I interact with Mr. Charles and visit him numerous times. Each visit left me with a cool memory.

On one visit Ray gave me a large check, something like what I take home in a year. The production of the check was business like but seemed ceremonial. The presentation was what stuck with me: he put the check in one of my hands, shook the other, made as if looking me right in the eye, and he said "thank you" and moved on. Reputation as a cheap bastard aside, this is a man who knows the value of his hard work.

Another time, as I brought the system to his historic-landmark studio, he helped his engineer go through every box, making sure everything was included. He fished around in one box, came up with something, walked up to me, and waved a computer mouse right in my face. "D, why the hell are you selling Ray Charles a mouse?" Of course, he knew full well why, and, although it took me a beat, in a few seconds, we both broke out laughing.

Another time during a short visit, I said that I had to excuse myself, but my girlfriend was waiting for me - we had a date. Everyone in the room lit up. Ray came over to me and said "D, all of us have to agree that there is only one thing more important than business - p****!" No one had to tell me that I had hit upon Ray's second favorite subject.

My offhand question of what kind of music he had been recording here lately made him a little cranky, but after a breath he answered with this blog title.

I've worked with a lot of idols, famous and infamous, but no one who carried himself like Ray, or presented himself as honestly as he did.

Like all of us, in the end Ray lived exactly as long as he lived (not to little or too long), but I am grateful for his time here during my time.

Play on, Brother Ray.

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