I wasn't a fan, but I watched him play on Sesame Street when I was little and he seemed like a very interesting fellow. These are quotes of his from an interview with Mike Sager, entitled "What I've Learned", that was published in the August 2003 issue of the Esquire magazine. It was one of my test files for the project I was on from mid-2003 to mid-2004.
Reproduced without permission. But I promise it's a straight copy and paste, only ligatures fixed manually. All typos are sicut erat in principio from a pre-press version of the final that went to print.
- Music is about the only thing left that people don't fight over. [JL: Uh, sorry to disappoint, sir, but it's called the RIAA...]
- People couldn't understand why my mama would have this blind kid out doing things like cutting wood for the fire. But her thing was: He may be blind, but he ain't stupid.
- I am my own engineer.
- I remember one night we did a thing with Duke Ellington. He was on an oxygen tank until they called him to come out onstage. But he went out there and you'd never have known there was anything wrong with the man. That's what music can do. If you're sad, you can go home and play some records and make yourself feel better. If you're in the hospital and you're sick, music can be soothing. I know I'm gonna get shot down for this, but I think music is the greatest art form ever, bar none. I know that people who are into movies or into sculpture or writing or whatever are gonna say, "Ray, you must done lost your brain." And they probably right. But I still think that music is the greatest art form ever.
- They say war has a purpose, but I'm not sure I agree.
- I've always thought that people want you to be one of two things: They either want you to be a clone—meaning just like them—or they want you to be their footstool, so they can control you and tell you what to do.
- Sighted people sometimes forget that blind people have a mind.
- I don't analyze myself. I just do what I do.
- You better live every day like it's your last day, 'cause one day you're gonna be right.
- I'm a firm believer in God himself, but that's as far as I can go. I'm not any denomination. I'm not Catholic or Presbyterian or Baptist or Methodist or Jewish or Muslim. I'm none of those things. And I'm sure that's just fine with God.
- I did drugs because it was my pleasure.
- Nowadays they say you need to get a special chip to put in the TV so the kids can't watch this and that. In my day, we didn't need that. My mom was the chip. End of story.
- The piano is the foundation, and that's it.
- All my kids know me.
- Addiction can be very, very bad. But addiction in itself isn't bad; it's a question of what you're addicted to. That's where the chickens come home to roost. You can be addicted to good habits, you know what I mean? You can be addicted to your woman. Addiction in itself is kind of like money. It ain't bad or good. It's what you do with it.
- When you write a good song, it will be good even if it's sung by somebody with a bad voice.
- We always gonna have racism.
- With singing, the name of the game is to make yourself believable. When somebody hears you sing a song and they say, "Oh, that must have happened to him," that's when you know you're transmitting. It's like being a good actor. You make people feel things, emotions and whatnot. But you gotta start with yourself. You got to feel it yourself. If you don't feel it, how do you expect someone else to?
- I don't remember much about what it was like to see. The main thing I remember is my mom, how she looked. And I remember colors.
- I've always been the kind of person who, if there's anything that can kill me, I want to know something about it.
- People say: "Ray, you a genius, Ray, you a cornerstone, Ray, you this and you that." Those are nice accolades, and I certainly appreciate it when people think well of my music and what I've tried to do with it. But in my heart, I mean . . . I don't kid myself. I know I'm not a genius. A genius is somebody like Art Tatum or Charlie Parker. I don't come close to those guys. I just happen to be a guy that can do a lot of little things and do 'em well.
- It would be a real bitch if I ever lost my hearing. I know I couldn't be no Helen Keller. That would be worse than death.
- Vision is something that you have in your mind.
- This is a girl's bike, man. Why would I be riding a girl's bike? You didn't think I was gonna notice that, right? You guys are trying to sucker a blind man!
RIP Ray Charles.