07 August 2010

Ultimate Singles Jukebox [Slot 120]

Drown In My Own Tears
Ray Charles
Written by Henry Glover
Produced by Ahmet Ertegun & Jerry Wexler
Atlantic Records
Recorded in New York City, 30 November 1955

"I suppose I’ve always done my share of crying, especially when there’s no other way to contain my feelings. I know that men ain’t supposed to cry, but I think that’s wrong. Crying’s always been a way for me to get things out which are buried deep, deep down. When I sing, I often cry. Crying is feeling and feeling is being human. Oh yes, I cry."
—Ray Charles

Anybody that has spent time in a bar knows that the place isn't always hoppin'. And these are the times that the jukebox can come in handy, especially late at night when loneliness and brooding can set in after a few drinks.

That's why the classic Ray Charles tune "Drown In My Own Tears" is a natural for the TNOP Ultimate Singles Jukebox. A number one hit on the R&B chart in early 1956, Brother Ray's treatment of Henry Glover's song melds the formula that literally gave birth to soul: the swaying gospel beat with the intimate tale of secular problems.

In the intriguing liner notes written by Robert Palmer for the Atlantic compilation Ray Charles: The Complete Atlantic Rhythm & Blues Recordings , 1952-1959, it is noted that even though the rock and roll wave had broken through to white audiences (Elvis Presley had covered Charles' "I Got A Woman"), "at this crucial junction in Charles' career, a very surprising thing happened. Charles refused to compromise his music with the simpler beat, more adolescent lyrics, and smoother singing that white rock and roll fans seemed to favor. He continued to write, arrange, play and sing from his soul, and his records continued to sell almost exclusively within the black community. Even more remarkably, Atlantic an enlightened company but one that needed to sell records as much as any other label, backed Charles all the way. His music suffered no delusion. In fact, mid-fifties Charles landmarks like . . . "Drown In My Own Tears" . . . . recorded during rock and roll's breakthrough period in 1955, was more soulfully incendiary, churchy and rootsy -- more "black" if you will -- than . . . his earlier discs."

Henry Glover's composition, written in 1951 and originally recorded by Lula Reed on King Records, became a classic and constant in the Ray Charles canon throughout the remainder of his career. The stunning backup of The Cookies near the end of the tune's arrangement led Charles to permanently integrate female singers into his act and many of his recordings (the most famous being The Raelettes).

Provided below is a 1986 live performance of "Drown In My Own Tears." Charles is joined on stage by Ron Wood on guitar, Paul Shaffer on organ and Steve Jordan on drums.

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