10 Essential Ray Charles Songs

Ray Charles Songs

Photo: Victor Diaz Lamich [CC BY 3.0 ]

Our 10 Essential Ray Charles songs list takes a look at one of the all-time greatest and most inspirational musicians of the past 75 years. Ray Charles is gospel, Ray Charles is country, Ray Charles is blues, Ray Charles is soul, Ray Charles is rock and roll. No one played the piano like Ray Charles. No one sang and played the piano like Ray Charles. There was a groove to his piano playing that musicians have been trying to imitate for years. Ray Charles Incorporated every style of music into his soul and delivered it in such a way that people of all races and geographical locations fell in love with him no matter what.

Ray Charles was born in Greenville, Florida in 1930. Ray Charles was not born blind, but lost his sight to glaucoma by the age of seven. By the age of 19, Ray Charles had released his first single as a member of the The McSon Trio. The band had signed a record deal with Downbeat Records. The group’s first single was entitled “Confession Blues.” The song was very successful peaking at number two on the U.S. R&B charts in 1949.  The musical career of Ray Charles had begun.

Ray Charles first major label record contract was with with Atlantic Records. Ray Charles signed with Atlantic Records in 1952 and recorded for them until 1959. When his contract with Atlantic Records expired in 1959, Ray Charles signed with ABC records. Ray Charles stayed with ABC records until 1974. When that contract expired, Ray Charles started his own record label entitled Crossover Records. A perfectly named label for the type of artist Ray Charles had become.

Ray Charles career took a shop turn towards country music in the 1980s in similar fashion to what Jerry Lee Lewis had done with his career. Ray Charles released a string of country albums on Columbia Records from 1983 to 1987.

Over the past 75 years, all his record labels have been releasing Ray Charles compilation albums. There is such an incredible abundance of music Ray Charles has left this world to enjoy. Choosing these 10 Ray Charles songs may have been the most difficult task we have ever encountered. We tried to choose a collection of songs that were both popular, wonderful and also defined the many different moods of Ray Charles. So here are what we feel are 10 Essential Ray Charles songs.

# 10 – What’d I Say

We know that you are going to be looking for this one so why not list it right away. These 10 essential Ray Charles songs are in no particular order. The classic Ray Charles song “What’d I Say,” has to be one of his most popular recordings ever. The song “What I’d Say,” was released in 1959. “What I’d Say,”is the song that turned Ray Charles into a household name. However, the song itself is even more important than just the song that spread the name of Ray Charles. The song is significant in popular music history because it is widely regarded as the song that gave birth to the genre of soul music. The song hit number six on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.

# 9 – Georgia On My Mind

Continuing with our top 10 Essential Ray Charles songs list, we return to the first number one song Ray Charles ever celebrated in his career. The song “Georgia on My Mind,” hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. It was released on the album The Genius Hits the Road on Atlantic Records. The song was written  by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell  in 1930.

# 8 – Hit The Road Jack

After scoring his first number one hit Ray Charles did it again with the classic tune “Hit the Road Jack.” The song hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. The song was written by Percy Mayfield. It has become one of the most covered songs in jazz and pop music. It was especially popular in the 1960s and early 1970s among jazz vocal artists. The Animals did a nice slow dark blues version of the song in 1966.

 

# 7 – I Can’t Stop Loving You

For the third year in a row Ray Charles hit the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1962, Ray Charles had another number one song with the great track “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” The song was written by Don Gibson. The song, “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” appeared on the album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. 

# 6 – I Got A Woman

One of the most covered songs that Ray Charles ever released was his 1954 classic “I Got a Woman.” Ray Charles probably had no idea that the song would become as widely covered as it did. Over time the song was covered by The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Al Kooper, Bryan Adams, The Everly Brothers, The Monkees, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stevie Wonder and many more.

# 5 – Night Time Is the Right Time

The great interplay between Ray Charles’ lead vocals and hs backing singers is on full display on this great track. The song “Night Time Is the Right Time” was released in 1959. It was issued in the album The Genius Sings the Blues. 

# 4 – Busted

We continue our top 10 Essential Ray Charles songs list with the classic track “Busted.” A fantastic song that everyone at one time or more in their lives could relate too. The song was released in 1963. It was issued on the album entitled Ingredients in a Recipe for Soul. It was a top 10 hit in the United States peaking at number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

# 3 – Seven Spanish Angels

The great Ray Charles song “Seven Spanish Angels,” represents Ray Charles most successful country song. The song hit number one on the country music charts in 1985. The song was recorded as a duet with Willie Nelson. It was released on the album Friendship.

 

# 2 – I’ll Be Good To You

The great Quincy Jones produced song “I’ll Be Good To You,” is the last Ray Charles vocal to reach the Billboard Hot 100. The song was actually very successful as it reached the Billboard top 20 peaking at number 18. The song was originally a hit by The Brothers Johnson in 1976 when it reached all the way to number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The Ray Charles version was recorded with Chaka Khan also on vocals in 1989. It was released on the compilation album Back on the Block produced by Quincy Jones and featured a cast of legendary artists.

# 1 – I Don’t Need No Doctor

We close out our 10 Essential Ray Charles songs with one of our all time favorite Ray Charles recordings. The great soul infused song “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” was released in 1966. The song was written by Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson, and Jo Armstead. It was released on the album A Man and His Soul.  It was not a huge hit for Ray Charles as it peaked at number 72 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was also covered a few years later in the 1970s by Humble Pie and New Riders of the Purple Sage.

 

2 Comments

  1. Avatar John Tabacco October 22, 2019
    • Avatar Martin November 13, 2019

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Daryl Hall Solo Songs
Top 10 Daryl Hall Songs As A Solo Artist
Arctic Monkeys Albums
Complete List Of Arctic Monkeys Albums And Discography
John Oates Lead Vocal Hall & Oates Songs
Top 10 Hall & Oates Songs With Lead Vocals By John Oates
Harlequin Songs
Top 10 Harlequin Songs
15 Greatest Hits Albums With Best Unreleased Tracks & Non-Album Songs
18 Best Greatest Hits Albums With Unreleased Tracks & Non-Album Singles
Best Rock Albums Of 2022
Best Rock Albums Of 2022
12 Essential Jazz Guitar Albums
12 Essential Jazz Guitar Albums
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks In Your Dreams LP
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks In Your Dreams LP
Remembering David Crosby
Remembering David Crosby
David Crosby Dead At 81
David Crosby Dead At 81
Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming With Dave Letterman To Premier On Disney+ March 2023
Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming With Dave Letterman To Premier On Disney+ March 2023
Lisa Marie Presley Dead At Age 54 Of Cardiac Arrest
Lisa Marie Presley Dead At Age 54 Of Cardiac Arrest
10 Classic Rock Bands That Have Never Released A Live Album
10 Classic Rock Bands That Have Never Released A Live Album
Will Music CDs Become Collectors Items?
Why Basic Music CDs Will Become Collectors Items
Greatest Rock Bass Lines Of The 70s
Greatest Rock Bass Lines Of The 70s
Don Kirschner Rock Concert
Before MTV, There Was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert
Thomas Pedersen & Michael Sonne Interview
Thomas Pedersen & Michael Sonne Of Wasted: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Jimmy Marchiano Interview
Jimmy Marchiano: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Chris Poland: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Hirsh Gardner Interview
Hirsh Gardner: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Real Meanings Behind Songs On Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad Album
Real Meanings Behind Songs On Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Rihanna's Music of the Sun Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Rihanna’s Music of the Sun Album
Rihanna Albums
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Rihanna’s A Girl Like Me Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks Rock a Little Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks Rock a Little Album
Simple Plan Albums
Complete List Of Simple Plan Albums And Discography
Killswitch Engage Albums
Complete List Of Killswitch Engage Albums And Discography
Michael Buble Albums
Complete List Of Michael Bublé Albums And Discography
Pink Albums
Complete List Of Pink Albums And Discography