The 2004 motion picture Ray chronicles the life of Ray Charles. The film takes place from 1948 to 1979 and epitomizes the social impact of the music of Ray Charles. It shows how society shaped the music of Ray Charles, and additionally how Ray Charles and his music shaped society. One clear focus in the film was the importance of music to Ray Charles. The raw passion Ray Charles shows for his music adds to the musical meaning of his work.
One Ray Charles song with an important musical meaning is “What’d I Say.” The lyrics of this song provide a starting point for an analysis into the musical meaning of the song. In the film Ray, after recording “What'd I Say,” the producer says “It is just too damn sexual for kids.” This quote exemplifies an important social aspect surrounding the song “What’d I Say.” It is one that appears throughout rhythm and blues music of the postwar era, the generation gap.
One manner in which fifties teenagers rebelled against their parents was through music. Acco...
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... Georgia, as the film Ray portrays, segregation in Georgia was present. The fact that in a state where black people and white people could not even drink from the same drinking fountain selected a state song sung by a black man shows great progress in race relations. It is best summed up as it is in the movie Ray, “Ray Charles changed American Culture by touching people’s hearts,” (Ray, 2:24:05).
It is clear that music shaped the social climate and the social climate shaped music. By analyzing the musical meaning of the songs of the time period, one can gain insight into the postwar era society. The music of the post war era helped establish a generation gap and ultimately was a precursor for the civil revolution of the sixties. Given the gravity of the social changes inspired by music, it is evident that musical meaning plays a vital role in shaping culture.
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