Music Tells My Story

by on July 12, 2021 · 3 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

“What musical artist do you resonate with the most and you feel best tells your story?” was a question posed on Facebook.

I could never answer that with one choice, as there are so many singers and instrumentalists on the list of artists who have, at least, accompanied if not told my story over time.

Billie Holiday immediately comes to mind. Hers was one of the first voices other than my mother’s and my dad’s that I can remember hearing.

I was but a child but the sound of her voice as she sang, that sadness and raspy-ness, touched me all over, and melted into my very being, matching what I, even though I was in my infancy, was already sensing intuitively about the world I had been born into near the end of the 30’s.

Loved me some Andrews Sisters, too, their boogie woogie melodies and jitterbugging and jaunty harmonies that led to harmonizing being one of my favorite things to do.

Then Ray Charles came along and blended Billy and those three sisters and the likes of Nat King Cole into new versions of soul     that launched me into young adulthood feeling the spirit of “I’ve got a woman way over town that’s good to me” surging through me like electricity, learning life back then from all angles: via playing hoops and studying and daddy-ing, while, at the same time, partying, dancing and clowning, yet beginning to pick up on the essence of things gradually…

I was in tune with everything musically. Miles totally spoke to me, with his back

turned like somebody trying to look incognito, blowing the funkiest of tones through his horn, notes as soulful as mama’s crawfish and corn soup, giving us classics like “Bitches Brew.”

Count tickled me joyfully tickling those ivories like a father playing with his baby, gently and melodically and then the blast of the full orchestra would add to the sweet sounds that were being played, trumpets and saxophones and slide trombones shaking you to your bones and then the vibrations would simmer down like the wind softening against a boat’s sails and the next sound you hear might be anybody: Ella or Sassy, singing and scatting and folks be bobbin’ and pattin’…

Tito Puente. The man with the timbales. He could get you up on your feet to mambo beats, music born in Africa and given a ride on the ships of the slave trade to new heights in the Americas.

Oh, what music hasn’t touched me, especially when the music reflected the feelings of artists who had had enough, putting it in song like Marvin Gaye wondering “What’s going on, what’s going on…”

Pete Seeger wondering “Where have all the flowers gone” as all the wars pressed on.

Joan Baez singing “No nos moveran,” “We shall not be moved” in another tongue.

And Bob Dylan asked all the questions in songs as he knew all along that “The Times They Are A-Changin’!”

And they were shifting like windblown sand dunes as James Brown had African Americans singing a different tune, “I’m Black and I’m Proud!”

Way out loud!

Les McCann and Eddie Harris were “tryin’ to make it real compared to what!” because it did look “like we always end up in a rut (Everybody now!)”…

But in-spite of the troubles of the world, Bob Marley comforted us with “every little thing gonna be all right.”

And John Lennon made it clear that it’s the dreamers that make right the wrongs as he implored us to imagine, together, a better way of living.

As one.

I could go on and on as music itself strikes a chord with me, all of it telling my story of simply wanting the best for humanity.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Douglas Blackwood July 12, 2021 at 8:25 pm

Thanks Ernie for reminding me what a great role music played in my development!
All those greats: & so many more. Moze singing, “when your minds on vacation- your mouth is working overtime”! I am a bit younger so: ” my life was saved by rock & roll”! There was a record store in downtown Baltimore; that had listening booths, take a record in there and blast it., so cool! My Dad said: “rock & roll is not music”! That’s when I knew. I was on to something.


BARBARA LEWIS July 18, 2021 at 1:36 pm

Whew! Mr. McCray… took me on a ride that was the background and foreground of my ups and down, my happiness and my tears over at least 60 years and what a wonderful ride it was….thank you.


Thomas Gayton July 18, 2021 at 2:22 pm

What has happened to TODAY’S MUSIC and what does it say about today’s social consciousness?


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