Monday, January 19, 2009

Hit The Road Jack, Ray Charles (1961)

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. - Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963, The March on Washington

Day 3 of artists who've performed for the Obama inaugural. OK, Ray Charles is no longer with us, but his version of America the Beautiful saw Barack on the train into Baltimore over the weekend.

Was there ever a groovier song than Hit The Road Jack? Hands down my favorite Ray Charles and the ideal song to send George W. Bush packing - Lord, so often it has seemed like this day would never come - and usher in the Obama years.

Hit The Road Jack was written by Percy Mayfield, a singer-songwriter Charles had grown up listening to, and features the take-no-prisoners Raelettes. The delicious lead is sung by one of the originals, Margie Hendrix, with whom Charles was personally involved. The Raelettes lineup was a revolving door, at one time including the late Minnie Riperton; the musical tug-of-war between them and Charles was a critical ingredient of the success of this song.

But today's post is not so much about the song as it is about the historic events that are about to occur. Our long national nightmare, as Gerald Ford described the end of the Nixon years when he took the oath of office, is drawing to a close.

I, and millions of others, have been waiting for this for so long - waiting for a chance to hold our heads up high again, to stop the neocon madness that has wrecked this country and brought its people to their knees, thrown them out of their homes, deprived them of their jobs (and as Joe Biden said yesterday, their dignity) and their life savings if they had any, mortally wounded their sons and daughters or brought them back to civilian life damaged psychically and/or physically forever. And that's just a partial list.

I have supported Barack Obama for president from the beginning. I was never for anyone else, even when I thought there was no way in hell that he could win. He is an outsider in the truest sense of the word, someone who is not entrenched in the status quo, who is devoid of cynicism, who believes in contemplation and sorting through complexities, and is unwilling to cave in to special interests who care only for themselves and wouldn't know the greater good if it hit them upside the head.

That he is a black man on top of all that should be gravy, but it really isn't. Along with many others, I didn't think I'd live to see a person of color become President of the United States. I didn't think the pendulum could swing that far, particularly not after what we have had to endure these last 8 years. But it has swung. We will never be the same, and we shouldn't be.

It's time; way past time. On this, the 23rd Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I have never been more thrilled to be an American.


KarmaSartre said...

Is it OK if he returns for the trial?

cornbread hell said...

an outstanding post, wendy. thanks.

Just J said...

Testify! Hallelujah! Amen.

shrubbery said...

May I offer up another song with similar sentiment -- "Gone At Last" from Paul Simon and Phoebe Snow.
And for those who look forward with optimism I offer these two -- "Brand New Day" and "Bright Side of the Road" from Van Morrison.

KO said...

Chin chin.

Mombi said...

Maybe Wendy should add in a "may only return in shackles" clause...

KarmaSartre said...


I had not gotten to that image yet, but it sure fits. Thanks.