Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music

Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music

Album #20 - April 1962

Episode date - May 1, 2024

The Top 500 of The Top 40
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    “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” was a perfect album for its time, with Ray Charles adding his unique touch to songs that were considered outside the purview of R&B performers, and he did this just as Country-Western music experienced growing pains.

    As the ‘60s began, ‘Country-Western” music was moving away from the usual trappings of its past, taking on an air of sophistication through producers like Chet Atkins, Billy Sherill and Owen Bradley who preferred orchestration to banjoes and fiddles. As a Black man, Charles kicked down a few doors of his own, but only figuratively, because he never needed to step foot in Nashville, recording the entirety of this album in New York City and Hollywood, hardly bastions of Country music culture.

    What makes things interesting is that Charles adopted the ‘Countrypolitan’ aspect of the Nashville sound almost accidentally, applying his orchestrated R&B stylings to older songs and transforming them into undeniably perfect updates just as the Civil Rights Movement started to gain real momentum.

    Charles already proved himself capable of juggling Blues, Jazz, and Gospel music without breaking a sweat, and he already flirted with reworking Country music when he covered Hank Snow’s “I’m Moving On”. He could do anything and yet still sound exactly like himself. “Modern Sounds in Country-Western Music” serves as a distinct signpost where ‘Country’ music soared in popularity on the National charts due primarily to Charles, and its social impact almost outstripped its enormous musical value.

    Featured tracks:

    Bye Bye Love

    You Don't Know Me

    Half as Much

    I Love You So Much It Hurts

    Just A Little Lovin' (Will Go a Long Way)

    Born to Lose

    Worried Mind

    It Makes No Difference Now

    You Win Again

    Careless Love

    I Can't Stop Lovin' You

    Hey, Good Lookin'

    April 1962 - Billboard Charted #1

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