I wrote a post a while back about listening to jazz while I do work. Recently, I fast forwarded to listening to 1950s R&B, and I think that was a marvelous decision. Ray Charles has been one of my go-to’s
Ray has this one song called “What’d I Say.” It’s almost a six minute song and Ray wrote it by improvisation at a show one night, and it quickly became a crowd favorite. It became so popular that he made his producers record it.
The problem was that at the time, singles didn’t really go over three minutes. In the dramatized cinematographic version of Ray Charles’s life, the producers threaten to cut out a verse or two. I don’t know if that’s true. But I imagine something like that is. We always want to put new things into the mold of old things.
Ray and the studio came to a compromise – they would record the whole song, but they would split it up into an A-side and a B-side. While that worked out, I suppose, the entire six minute song is really worth listening to all the way through.
And the song deserves a full listen. It almost brought on the genre of soul all by itself.
The point of all of this is to say two things.
1) We should probably stop trying to make new things like old things. New things would be more successful if we let them be new.
2) Sometimes, though, even when we mess up and think that new things need to be like old things, magic still happens.