Since launching his music career in the 1950s, Ray Charles has been a trailblazer in the world of soul music, churning out countless unforgettable songs. By blending jazz, R&B, and gospel, he crafted his unique sound. Here’s our top 10 list of his greatest hits:
10. Hallelujah, I Love Her So
This upbeat track from 1956 is pure joy. The fiery horns and Charles’ passionate vocals make this song the perfect soundtrack for any love affair. It captures the euphoria that love can bring and stands as a true classic in Ray’s repertoire.
9. Mess Around
One of Ray Charles’ earliest hits, “Mess Around,” is an energetic boogie-woogie piano number. With its playful tone and Charles’ signature vocal flair, this song invites you to dance and have fun.
8. I Got a Woman
Drawing inspiration from gospel yet infused with an unmistakable R&B twist, “I Got a Woman” brought Ray Charles into the spotlight for the first time. The lyrics about a devoted woman, along with Charles’ signature piano, make this a must-listen.
7. Unchain My Heart
With a plea for liberation from suffocating love, “Unchain My Heart” is powerful both musically and lyrically. The emotional intensity of Charles’ singing is perfectly supported by the accompanying instrumentation.
6. Crying Time
This heartbreaking song about love that has ended showcases Ray Charles’ vulnerable side. His voice, drenched in emotion, immediately pulls you into the story, making it one of his most touching works.
5. Here We Go Again
This duet with Norah Jones offers a nostalgic look at the cycles of love. With its calm, resigned tone, “Here We Go Again” provides a profound reflection on the complexities of romantic relationships.
4. I Can’t Stop Loving You
One of Ray Charles’ most iconic ballads, this song is synonymous with unrequited love. His singing, full of longing and sorrow, combined with lush orchestral accompaniment, makes it a timeless classic.
3. What’d I Say
Perhaps Ray Charles’ most influential song, “What’d I Say” revolutionized the music industry with its blend of gospel, R&B, and rock & roll. Featuring its famous call-and-response section and irresistible rhythm, it’s a song that gets everyone moving.
2. Georgia on My Mind
A tribute to his home state, “Georgia on My Mind” stands as one of Ray Charles’ most beloved songs. With its warm, soothing vocals and rich instrumentation, the track transports you straight to the southern U.S., where you can almost feel the gentleness of a southern night.
1. Hit the Road Jack
This Grammy-winning track needs little introduction. With its unforgettable chorus, dynamic rhythm, and humorous lyrics, “Hit the Road Jack” is a song that has been making people smile and sing along for generations. Truly, Ray Charles at his best!