Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ray Charles - Unbound my heart

Ray Charles (1930-2004)

Take these chains from my heart and set me free
You've grown cold and no longer care for me
All my faith in you is gone but the heartaches linger on
Take these chains from my heart and set me free

Take these tears from my eyes and let me see
Just a spark of the love that used to be
If you love somebody new, let me find a new love, too
Take these chains from my heart and set me free

Give my heart just a word of sympathy (sympathy)
Be as fair to my heart as you can be (you can be)
Then if you no longer care for the love that's beating there
Take these chains from my heart and set me free

Take these chains from my heart and set me free (set me free)
Hank Williams

Lord Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew 5:8  "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."  

Watching and listening to Ray Charles performing raised in me an uneasy question "is this phenomenal artist pure in heart?"  If not, it could explain why Ray does not seem to see God.

I say this on the basis of his autobiography and also the movie Ray (2004) which he endorsed. (Except for the parts showing him taking grudgingly to piano and the one where he demonstrates to Margie Hendricks how to shoot heroin).

We have been told that Ray's mother, Aretha Williams, was a devout Christian.

The boy was born September 23, 1930 in Albany, Georgia and lived his childhood in the little town of Greenville, Florida. The family attended local Baptist church; in the 1930'ies it was from outside a touchingly poor wooden structure but from inside a mighty house of God of life and death.

So Ray probably received a warm, possibly tough, Christian upbringing at home and possibly also in Florida School for the Deaf and Blind where he learned also to know classical music. Yet he talks about his mother in strongly humanistic terms making clear her enormous importance to his entire life. "Do not be a cripple!" And the awful trauma of his brother drowning, an accident that Ray possibly might have prevented, is central theme in the mother/son relationship.

But no word of God in connection with Aretha almost as if Ray was also spiritually blind and could not see Him.

Certain kind of uncleanness of heart can be assumed from the impressive list of his children:
  • Born ~ 1950: Evelyn Robinson (to Louise Mitchell)
  • Born ~ 1955: Ray Charles Robinson, Jr. (to Della Robinson)
  • Born ~ 1958: David Robinson (to Della Robinson)
  • Born ~ 1959: Charles Wayne Robinson (to Margie Hendricks)
  • Born ~ 1960: Reverend Robert Robinson (to Della Robinson)
  • Born ~ 1961: Raenee Robinson (to Mae Mosely Lyles)
  • Born ~ 1963: Sheila Raye Charles Robinson (to Sandra Jean Betts)
  • Born ~ 1966: Alicia Robinson (unknown)
  • Born ~ 1968: Alexandra Robinson (to Chantal Bertrand)
  • Born ~ 1977: Vincent Robinson (to Arlette Kotchounian)
  • Born ~ 1978: Robyn Robinson (to Gloria Moffett)
  • Born ~ 1987: Ryan Corey Robinson (to Mary Anne den Bok)
That Ray did not see (glaucoma) and that he possibly did not see God or praise Him in R&B or Gospel in no way diminishes his value as a human being, his importance as a genius of popular music, rare winner of heroin addiction (which killed Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin at that time) and a truly brave opponent of racial segregation in Georgia (Georgia On my Mind).

 Ray Charles with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan in 1984

Human life in its bright and dark moments is in the center of Ray's wonderful repertoire of songs that made him world famous. There are funny rhythmic pieces like Mess Around, touchingly sentimental and true songs like Unbound My Heart, some steel cold stories of life as the unforgettable interpretation of Hit The Road, Jack.

However, Ray Charles did not sing much Gospel, the music of his mother.

Or did he?

Perhaps something happened to him by the amazing grace of God and Aretha and Ray are having great time!

Only God knows and it is good that only He knows.

Let us thank our Lord for Ray Charles, his praying mother Aretha, his life and his wonderful music

 Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem sempiternam

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