Sunday, May 11, 2014
Track of the Week: Ray Charles, "Mess Around"
Yesterday I was listening to WFMU, and that most blessed moment of grace occurred: the right song came on the radio at exactly the right moment without me anticipating it. That song is Ray Charles' "Mess Around," one of my personal favorites, and I song I associate with letting the good times roll.
At my local bar in Michigan, which was by far the best local bar I've ever had, there was a CD jukebox of impeccable quality, including a Ray Charles compilation. Practically every time I dropped in after work or on a sunny summer eve I would put some tunes on, and almost always play "Mess Around" by Ray Charles and "Cocaine Blues" as performed by Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. The hours spent at that bar with my friends were absolutely therapeutic, and I remember them fondly.
The song is like nothing else in Charles' catalog due to its frenetic barrelhouse rush and New Orleans influence, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. Not only is the piano an absolute joy, Charles' sax player, David "Fathead" Newman, probably laid down his sickest solo on this track. Every time the song is over I feel exhilarated, like I used to after sledding down a hill as a child. It's good to know I can still get that feeling without looking ridiculous trying to sled down a hill at my age.