One of my big regrets in life is that life somehow intervened the several times I had a chance to see Ray Charles live and I never got to do it. So today I was checking out the vinyl at the local Goodwill and there it was: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music with a near mint cover still in the shrink wrap and a neatly labeled "Norma" in ballpoint ink on the shrink wrap plastic. The record itself had some scuffs but not any serious wounds–it just looked well loved. I found several other "Norma" albums and picked them up as well as they matched my mood for the day.
So, after a quick clean with the microfiber cloth and distilled water/alcohol, Ray hit the turntable. WOW! Just WOW! I know this album well but I've never had it on vinyl until today. Even with some surface noise and the occasional pop and click, the sound on this mono pressing from 1962 was simply amazing. Ray's vocals are just right there and you can hear him pull away from the mic ever so slightly as he reaches for those notes sometimes. You can even catch him turning his head a bit as he sways on some of the tunes.
This album deserves all the acclaim. It redefined Ray Charles as the artist who could, simply, do it all. And it served as a serious kick in the ass for Nashville in terms of showing just what could be done with some of those wonderful tunes written by some of Nashville's best.
I can only wish that "modern" country music was this good. But that's all right. I have this album and I have Ray's voice and performance that once again reminded me that music still carries the power to move me to tears. And today, when I listened to "I Can't Stop Loving You" on this 1962 performance, I was right there … crying.