Hey mama, don't you treat me wrong,
Come and love your daddy all night long.
All right now, hey hey, all right.
See the girl with the diamond ring;
She knows how to shake that thing.
All right now now now, hey hey, hey hey.
Tell your mama, tell your pa,
I'm gonna send you back to Arkansas.
Oh yes, ma'm, you don't do right, don't do right.
Yeah yeah, what'd I say, all right
Well, tell me what'd I say, yeah
Tell me what'd I say right now
Tell me what'd I say
"What'd I Say", from the album What'd I Say (1957)
Soul is when you take a song and make it a part of you — a part that's so true, so real, people think it must have happened to you. … It's like electricity — we don't really know what it is, do we? But it's a force that can light a room. Soul is like electricity, like a spirit, a drive, a power.
As quoted in LIFE magazine (July 1966), also in Ray Charles : Man and Music (1998) by Michael Lydon, p. 264
Variant: What is soul? It's like electricity — we don't really know what it is, but it's a force that can light a room.
As quoted in Pearls of Wisdom (1987) by Jerome Agel and Walter D. Glanze, p. 47
But now if I can wrap myself up in that song, and when that song gets to be a part of me, and affects me emotionally, then the emotions that I go through, chances are I’ll be able to communicate to you. Make the people out there become a part of the life of this song that you’re singing about. That’s soul when you can do that.
Music has been around a long time, and there's going to be music long after Ray Charles is dead. I just want to make my mark, leave something musically good behind. If it's a big record, that's the frosting on the cake, but music's the main meal.
As quoted "Words of the Week" in Jet magazine, Vol. 64, No. 6 (25 April 1983), p. 40
The fact of the matter is, you don't give up what's natural. Anything I've fantasized about, I've done.
Los Angeles Times (1989)
I started to sing like myself — as opposed to imitating Nat Cole, which I had done for a while — when I started singing like Ray Charles, it had this spiritual and churchy, this religious or gospel sound. It had this holiness and preachy tone to it. It was very controversial. I got a lot of criticism for it.
San Jose Mercury News (1994)
Do it right or don't do it at all. That comes from my mom. If there's something I want to do, I'm one of those people that won't be satisfied until I get it done. If I'm trying to sing something and I can't get it, I'm going to keep at it until I get where I want it.
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (1998)
You better live every day like your last because one day you're going to be right.
As quoted in Wisdom for the Soul of Black Folk (2007) by Larry Chang and Roderick Terry, p. 365
Before I begin, let me say right here and now that I'm a country boy. And, man, I mean the real backwoods! That's at the start of the start of the thing, and that's at the heart of the thing.
Home, p. 1
I was born with music inside me. That's the only explanation I know of, since none of my relatives could sing or play an instrument. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me — like food or water.
Home, p. 8
I know that men ain't supposed to cry, but I think that's wrong. Crying's always been a way for me to get things out which are buried deep, deep down. When I sing, I often cry. Crying is feeling, and feeling is being human.
First years at School, p. 25
When I was going blind, I didn't turn to God. It didn't seem to me then — and it doesn't seem to me now — that those items were His concern. Early on, I figured I better begin to learn how to count on myself, instead of counting on supernatural forces.
First years at School, p. 25
Then there were motorcycles. I learned to ride one in Tallahassee when I was about 14 or 15. … I got to know the town pretty well, and soon I felt confident about riding round. Tallahassee was full of hills, and I loved racing up and down 'em, sometimes trailing my friend or riding next to him, so I could hear the sound of the exhaust and make sure to follow closely and yet not too closely.
I know it sounds strange — a blind teenager buzzin' round on a motorcycle — but I liked that; that was me. I had always been nervy, and I always had a lot of faith in my ability not to break my neck.
Summers in Tallahassee, p. 48
Affluence separates people. Poverty knits 'em together. You got some sugar and I don't; I borrow some of yours. Next month you might not have any flour; well, I'll give you some of mine.
That's how my band made it. We swam through a lot of shit together, we swallowed a lot of pride, but we managed to do what we needed to do.
Roughing It, p. 155
My music had roots which I'd dug up from my own childhood, musical roots buried in the darkest soil.
Fooling, Drowning, Hallelujahing, p. 174
Women anchor me. They're there when I need them. They're sensitive to me, and I'm sensitive to them. I'm not saying I've loved that many women. Love is a special word, and I use it only when I mean it. You say the word too much and it becomes cheap.
But sex is something else. I'm not sure that there can ever be too much sex. To me, it's another one of our daily requirements — like eating. If I go twenty-four hours without it, I get hungry. Sex needs to be open and fun, free and happy. It's whatever you make it, and I try my hardest to create situations where me and my woman can enjoy ourselves — all of ourselves — without our inhibitions getting in the way. You got to set your mind right and the rest will come to you naturally. No restrictions, no hang-ups, no stupid rules, no formalities, no forbidden fruit — just everyone getting and giving as much as he and she can.
For the Love of Women, p. 239
Music is nothing separate from me. It is me. I can't retire from music any more than I can retire from my liver. You'd have to remove the music from me surgically — like you were taking out my appendix.