Monday, February 13, 2006

Goodbye, RayI don’t have a television here in London - no radio stations or newspaper subscription either. I have and try to check it on a regular basis, but this morning, it was on Make Mine Mike’s site that I learned about the passing of Ray Charles.I’m not overly religious, but I’ve always hoped that when I die, if I’m lucky enough to walk through those pearly gates, there will be a jazz, blues or R&B band playing on the other side. The house lights will be down and the room will be electric and filled with a back-slappin, high-five giving kind of soul I so wish I had. Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Ella Fitzgerald – if I’m really lucky, one of them (or so many others) will be on stage, doing what they do best. I also sort of hope my God in heaven might greet me with a hearty, "WHASSUP!?!" and inform me that my new heaven-name will be "Mookie Jones," and that people will probably call me "Mook" for short. But that could be pushing it a bit.Ray has a special place in my heart. Whenever I hear his music, I’m in awe of his voice and soulful style. It’s ironic that just the other day his rendition of “American the Beautiful” belted its way out of my iPod and through our house speakers and left me thinking, “Man, no one could sing that like Ray Charles. Who else could make you want to get up and dance to ‘America the Beautiful?’” Ray was a genius. For a man who couldn’t see, he had a lot more vision than most.From the movie “The Blues Brothers” I fell in love with the song “Shake A Tail Feather.” It’s like a little surprise party every time it comes on. That song always brings a smile to my face and I have to hold myself back to keep from hopping up and dancing right there in the street or on the tube or wherever I happen to be - and I think we all know that for a white guy, this is a bad idea. When I hear Ray Charles, I wish I could somehow turn myself into him and bang away at the piano, rocking back and fourth, stomping my feet and howling at the top of my lungs, truly “experiencing” the music. Truth be known, I've tried, but that's one of those secret moments we all have. It's my moment of standing in the shower, screaming out "TWIIIIIST IIIIT, SHAKE IT, SHAKE IT, SHAKE IT, SHAKE IT, BAAAABAYY!!" looking like I'm having a seizure and sounding like a dying parrot (don't tell anyone, okay?).It’s been interesting here in London to look around at all of the fantastic architecture and history. I find myself thinking, “Yeah, we don’t have anything like that” a lot. We don’t have Stonehenge or ancient architecture or a history that dates back a bazillion years. The Romans didn’t help to forge our country and we don’t have portraits of kings and queens. But we can claim Ray Charles, and that’s something to be proud of.So, I pause for a second, remove my hat and say my “goodbye” and “thank you” to Ray Charles. Heaven just went up a notch in the music department. I'm sure the stage is set and there's a great big piano ready and waiting. Don't be surprised if there are thunder and lightning storms tonight, baby. I hope just a little bit of his soul rubbed off on me in some way - I should be so lucky. Oh, and you can call me "Mook" if you'd like... or "Mookie."“Well I heard about the fella you’ve been dancing with, all over the neighborhood… so, why didn’t you ask me, baby? Ah, didn’t you think I could?”

Friday, February 10, 2006


welcome to my new blog, I don't have time to post now, but stay tuned for more info..