No Thank You, Ray

Earlier this week, after hearing the Ray Charles/Van Morrison duet of "Crazy Love" on Ray's posthumous Genius Loves Company CD, I wanted to write an entry about how great the song sounds. Ray sounds great as always, but Van the Man sounds fantastic. He sounds as if he loves the song and is having the time of his life singing with Ray. Van Morrison is notoriously hit-or-miss live (the song was recorded live at the Songwriter Hall of Fame awards), but his singing on this version of "Crazy Love" is all hit and no misses.

I was going to say that the song is so good that it has almost washed the bad taste of Ray's Powerball lottery commercials ("It's America's game, the one and only...") out of my mouth. While any lottery commercial (or hyperbolic local news coverage of mass ticket buying) makes me ill, it was depressing to watch Ray happily and enthusiastically sing a ditty for a venture that is basically a tax on the mathematically challenged. I thought that Ray's endorsement of gambling was over with his death, but after going to his website it turns out I may be wrong.

On a page that looks like satire straight out of the Onion, an August 2001 press release announced a "development agreement" between Ray Charles and Bally Gaming. Bally's developed three slot machines with Ray's likeness: "Ray's Jukebox," "Ray Charles' America the Beautiful," and, I kid you not, "What'd I Pay" featuring "the Payettes". Ugh. The press release goes on to say that, at Ray's insistence, these slot machines include "the option of offering audio-assist features and a Braille button deck that will allow visually impaired players the opportunity to experience the games." Truly robbing someone blind.

I don't go to casinos (though I have no problem with those who do), so I don't know if these slot machines are still on the casino floors. But if they are they are sure to become part of what people think of when they think of the "Genius" of Ray Charles (and if you don't think that's true try to think of Orson "Citizen friggen Kane" Welles without thinking of his Paul Masson "no wine before its time" commercials). It makes me wonder just how hard up for money Ray was to mar his legacy this way.


At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as a representative of the mathematically challenged, see if I buy YOU a beautiful house in the country when I win the big one. Thats my plan, everyone gets a mortgage free house. But only for the believers :p. Of course, actually BUYING tickets would up my odds of winning, but I can still dream.
Your bestest sister

ps....Ray Charles sang happily and enthusiastically all the way to the bank, well at least till he tripped over that curb....

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Yeah, your odds really go down if you don't play.

You know the worst part about Ray Charles' death?
He didn't see it coming.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Dee said...



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