Green Frog Cafe

"Living in nature, listening to the rain, Green Frog Cafe, that's where I want to be. The hemlocks are green, the creek is tricklin, there's geese on the pond, the forest sighs. Green Frog Cafe that's where I want to be, home of my soul, spirit of the mountains." Ruminations of Rhona McMahan

Sunday, June 20, 2004

The Funeral of Ray Charles

Never in my life did I dream that I would be so aware of the passing of Ray Charles. When I was a young prig I liked some of his songs, but disliked the sight of him, smiling sightlessly and too widely. No I realize how handsome he was as a young man. The strength of his spirit was too much for me to receive in my youthful wasp state of mind. His interview with Marian McPartland in 1990 bears witness to what a ladies man he was. Chelsea and Nathan and I sat in the office last Friday listening to BGO's broadcast of his funeral with DD Bridgewater and Jo Adams. McPartland's eulogy of him was as if the voice of death were drawing you right into the abyss. She is almost 10 years older than Charles was.

The new word I took away from all this is "polymath." Ray Charles was a polymath. Willie Nelson is a sort of polymath. Quincy Jones is a polymath.

Somewhere in the funeral I heard the phrase "loving the lord is loving the all encompassing life-giving spirit." Was it Willie Nelson, Marian McPartland, David Fathead Newman, Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond or another of the many artistic luminaries who participated in the funeral who said this line? Whoops, I just remembered that it was me that made up the phrase, reacting to the music and spirit of the funeral. Charles was dubbed "the soulman".

There has been so much Ray Charles music on the radio in the last few days, and last night there was a special tribute to him during the "70 Years of the Apollo" special on TV. Tasha has downloaded 4 CD's of Ray Charles music for Chelsea.

Willy Nelson was evidently close to Charles. He tells the story of playing chess with Charles, and losing constantly. Charles made research into deafness one of his major charities. That says a lot about his view on life.

Quincy Jones talks about meeting Ray Charles in his autobiography. Jones was around 14-15, and Charles came through Portland, Oregon, already supporting himself in good stule as a musician and with the ladies at the age of 17. Charles was an inspiration to Jones (who received a lifetime achievement award last night at the Apollo). Jones is one of my heroes.


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