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YouTube Gold: Unchain My Heart

Ray Charles made it look so easy

Ray Charles At The Piano
 Ray Charles makes his film debut, Dublin, Ireland, July 11, 1964. He is at the piano during the filming of Alexander Salkind’s production, ‘Ballad In Blue’ at Ardmore Studios.
Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images

Ray Charles Robinson, better known as simply Ray Charles, was a staggering musical talent.

Born in Albany, Georgia, in 1930, Charles had in many ways a tough childhood. His mother was poor and he never knew his real father. He lost his sight by the time that he was seven and his mother saw to it that he got the best education possible, sending him off to the Florida School For the Deaf and the Blind for eight years. He learned a lot about music while there but ultimately left after his mother died.

By the early ‘50s, he was recording and in 1953 Mess Around became a hit and he was on his way.

Among his many claims to fame, Charles essentially invented soul music and of his soul songs, it would be hard to top Unchain My Heart, which he released in 1961.

The story of a lover who needs to let go, the recorded version is superb. This live version from 1964, though, which seems to be from a movie, is something else. As he so often did, Charles plays with the form and does things that no one else ever conceived of, much less executed. He’s just 31 here and is simply killing it.