Week 52: “Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles

If you’ve been feeling stressed lately, do yourself a favour. Grab your calendar, iPhone, Trapper Keeper, or whatever you use to make appointments, and schedule a time to lie in the sun somewhere with this song in your ears. I’m serious. The second the weather gets nice in your part of the world, you need to schedule a meeting with a hammock, your favourite drink, and Ray Charles. The muscles in the back of your neck will thank you.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The world’s most laid-back back-up singers. It sounds like a choir that’s just re-gaining consciousness after dental surgery. Listen to them at 0:39 and I’m sure you’ll be able to imagine them in the recording studio, draped over pianos, slumped in chairs, too chilled-out to bother snapping their fingers. It’s awesome.

2. Sleepy strings. The strings have several great moments in the song, notably the opening few bars, but my favourite part comes at 1:17, as he sings, “Her the arms reach out to me”. Listen carefully and you’ll hear the strings do a rise and fall that is strikingly reminiscent of the James Bond theme song.

3. Ray Charles’ performance. The song was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell thirty years before this particular version was released, and various others have recorded it, but Ray Charles does it better than any of them. I especially like his brief falsetto coming back into the verse at 2:45.

Recommended listening activity:

Eating a peach.

Buy it here.