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The Tally Ho

Monday, June 14, 2004

Ray Charles

Why Not Cultural Icons on Our Currency?

I meant to write about Ray Charles several days ago, but I just didn't have the time. But I feel as if I have to write something... After what seemed like the national month of morning for former President Ronald Wilson Reagan, and the crazy talk by some of putting him on Mt. Rushmore, replacing Andy Jackson on the bill, replacing FDR on the dime... I got to thinking along the lines of Craig of NAAS. Why not put America's cultural icons on our currency? When I traveled through Ireland I thought it was great that James Joyce was on their currency. The US has its share of influential writers, artists, and musicians - so why not?

What about the case for the innovative Ray Charles? NY Times writers Jon Pareles and Bernard Weinraub, in their article "Ray Charles, Blusey Essence of Soul, Is Dead at 73", write

"Ray Charles is the guy who combined the sacred and the secular, he combined gospel music and the blues," Mr. Levy continued, adding, "He's called a genius because no one could confine him to one genre. He wasn't just rhythm and blues. He was jazz as well. In the early 60's he turned himself into a country performer. Except for B. B. King, there's no other figure who's been as important or has endured so long."

I am not saying that we necessarily should put Mr. Charles on our currency, but that if we are discussing individuals influences on US and world culture - why not pay tribute to them as we pay tribute to our other great men and women? Either way, goodbye Mr. Charles.

Obits from the Guardian and BBC

*I saw a great mock of Mr. Charles on the $10 bill, but I can't find it on the web. Check it out if you can find it.

Update: Thanks to FlakCat's Xanga Site and dKos...

Check out the new This Modern World 'toon


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