Thursday, February 14, 2019

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Rollin' 'round Heaven

Sorry, I couldn't find the version "Lucky Old Sun" by this Japanese surf band. 

When I was just a kid, while listening to the radio one night, way past my bedtime, I heard a song that shook me because it was just so sad -- the saddest song I'd ever heard up to then.

It was Ray Charles' 1960s version of a song that had been covered by many major singers for more than a decade before. "That Lucky Old Sun." It was from his 1963 album Ingredients in a Recipe for Soul.

Remember, I was just a kid, and wasn't familiar with previous versions by several major artists. Brother Ray made a huge impression that's lasted nearly 60 years. I could feel depths of sorrow and frustration as Charles sang, "I fuss with my woman, toil with my kids/Sweat 'til I'm wrinkled and gray/I know that lucky old sun has nothin' to do/But roll around heaven all day."

Note: In other versions I've heard, the lyrics are "... fuss with my woman toil for my kids ..." But by singing "toil with my kids" made it sound like the singer was so depressed that even playing with his kids was a burden. That's just one of the things that hit me when I first heard Ray sing it.

But man other artists have recorded the song, which was written by   Beasley Smith (who with Owen Bradley co-wrote the Roy Acuff hit "Night Train to Memphis") with lyrics by Haven Gillespie -- who co-wrote "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town."

"That Lucky Old Sun" first hit the world in 1949 with versions by  by Frankie Lane,  Frank Sinatra, Vaughn Monroe and Louis Armstrong. Since then it's also been recorded by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Sam & Dave, Dean Martin, Sarah Vaughan and countless others.

Here are some other covers.

The Killer downright killed it

Here's Big Mama Thornton

The Velvets did a pop doo-wop version

The Lucky Old Sons of the Pioneers took it to the campfire

Brian Wilson in 2008 created a song cycle around the song.

Leon Russell recorded this on the last album he released during his life, 2014's Life Journey.

Still, none of these match the power and glory of the Ray Charles version that first shook me as a child.

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