NPR FOR THE DEAF: Georgia On My Mind


[Painting by JEFF DOTTAVIO] SONG OF THE DAY:  It’s a little baffling that when Ray Charles originally released Live in Concert in early 1965, its brisk 38-minute duration meant shutting out “Georgia on My Mind.” It was his first concert record since turning Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell’s classic into a No. 1 hit, but what was already well on its way to becoming Charles’ signature song was nowhere to be found until recently, when a expanded reissue restored it to the album’s running order. Counterintuitive though it may be, the song’s absence might be explained by the breathtaking crawl through which Charles guides his band. The backing is so minimal that to call it “skeletal” doesn’t do it justice; note how the audience can’t even identify it until Charles begins singing. The drum is simply a one-two slap of brushes and the lightest of hi-hat claps. The bass thumps just enough to land on the first beat of each bar. Charles’ organ sits low and quiet throughout, and beyond his vocal, practically the only sign of movement is a flute that trills lightly all over the place. MORE

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