Ray Charles Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music

No one did more to integrate the various genres of American music than Ray Charles, and here he doesn’t just link up country with his trademark soul, but stirs in some big band—the opening of “Bye Bye Love” could have been composed by Glenn Miller—jazz and rock and roll, too. As much as this album was a musical labor of love, there was also an obvious subtext given its release at the height of the civil rights struggle. Charles knew that musical integration was a good metaphor for racial integration, and in particular his cover of Eddy Arnold’s “You Don’t Know Me” seems to carry a larger message for white audiences.