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Best Songs By Ray Charles
On The Acoustic

Best Songs By Ray Charles

Welcome to my best songs by Ray Charles page where you'll find free Ray Charles guitar chords and lyrics in a free pdf download, as well as free rhythm tips on playing these classic Ray Charles songs.

I've also added some of the Ray Charles album covers to this page so you know where the songs originated.

Jump links to quickly access the sections.

Best Songs By Ray Charles
Chords, Lyrics, Rhythm Tips, Tutorials

1. Cry

cry song by ray charles

Cry is a special song by Ray Charles. It came out in 1964 from his album "Sweet And Sour Tears." This song is known for its strong emotions and soulful singing by Ray Charles.

The song talks about feeling really sad and wanting something you can't have. Ray Charles sings with so much passion that it makes you feel the sadness in the song even more.

"Sweet And Sour Tears" is an album that shows how versatile Ray Charles was as a singer. He could sing different kinds of music like country, pop, and R&B all in one album. It shows how talented he was as a musician.

Before Ray Charles sang "Cry," other singers also sang it. People like Ruth Casey and Johnny Ray & The Four Lads sang it in the 1950s. Then, after Ray Charles made his version, Ronnie Dove sang it in 1966, giving it a new twist.

A country singer named Crystal Gayle made "Cry" really famous when her version became a #1 hit in 1986. This song has a special way of touching people's hearts, and that's why it's loved by people of all ages.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root up down up and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: G, Gbm, B, Em, A7, D, D7, B7, E7, C, A7m, Daug, Cm, E, Gb, F, Gmaj7
Chords & Lyrics


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2. Crying Time

crying time by ray charles

Crying Time is a song written by country artist Buck Owens a long time ago in 1964. When Buck released it, it wasn't the main song on the single. It was actually on the flip side of "I've Got A Tiger By The Tail," so the song didn't become very famous at that time.

But a year later, in 1965, something amazing happened. Ray Charles decided to sing "Crying Time" for his album called "Crying Time." When Ray sang it, the song became a huge hit. It reached number one on one chart and made it into the top 10 on many other charts. People loved Ray Charles' version, and it became one of his most famous songs, especially in the country music world.

What's really cool is that "Crying Time" wasn't just a hit in country music; it also did really well on the pop music charts. Ray Charles was so good at singing it that he won a Grammy Award in 1967 for the Best Country & Western recording.

So, "Crying Time" is a song that shows how talented both Buck Owens and Ray Charles were. Each of them added their own special style to the song, making it a timeless classic that people still love today.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root up down up root up down up and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: G, D, Am, D7, G7, C
Free Chord Sheet


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3. I Got A Woman

i got a woman by ray charles

I Got A Woman came out in 1954 as a single and was Ray Charles' very first number one hit song. Later, it was added to his album "Ray Charles" in 1957.

This song is a really important part of Ray Charles' music career. It mixes gospel, blues, and early rock and roll. When you listen to it, you can hear Ray Charles playing the piano, singing with a lot of soul, and even having a back-and-forth with other singers.

The words of "I Got a Woman" tell a happy story about a man who's found a woman who makes him feel loved and happy. It's a joyful and upbeat song that makes you feel good.

Lots of other artists have liked this song so much that they've sung it too. People from all kinds of music styles have covered it. Even in modern music, like hip-hop, you can hear parts of "I Got a Woman." Kanye West used a piece of it in his big hit called "Gold Digger."

So, "I Got A Woman" is a song that started Ray Charles' career with a bang, and it's still loved by people today because of its joyful and soulful sound.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root down root up down up and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: E, B7, A7
Chords & Lyrics


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4. Rainy Night In Georgia

rainy night in georgia by ray charles

Rainy Night In Georgia became a big hit in 1970 thanks to Brook Benton, but the story of this song starts a year earlier when Tony Joe White wrote and recorded it in 1969.

Ray Charles also loved the song and included it on his 1972 album called "Through The Eyes Of Love." Surprisingly, even though his version was really popular, it was never released as a single.

Ray Charles' version of the song has his special touch. You can hear his piano playing, his heartfelt singing, and a beautiful orchestra in the background, all coming together to create a wonderful feeling.

The words of "Rainy Night in Georgia" talk about feeling really lonely and missing someone on a rainy night when you're far away from home. It's a song that makes you feel those emotions deeply.

People loved Ray Charles' version of "Rainy Night In Georgia." Critics praised it, and many people listened to it. This made the song even more famous and cemented its status as a classic.

Other singers, like Brook Benton, Randy Crawford, and more recently, Chris Young, have also sung this song in their own ways. It's a song that can touch your heart no matter who sings it, keeping its emotional power alive.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: down down up down down up down up and repeat
  • Picking: a few string bends
  • Chords: EbMaj7, Fmaj7, F, A#7, Dm, Am, F7, Bb, Emaj7, G#, G, A#, C7
Chords & Lyrics


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5. Seven Spanish Angels

seven spanish angels by ray charles

Seven Spanish Angels is a song from 1984, and it's a special collaboration between Ray Charles and country singer Willie Nelson. They sang this duet together, and the song was written by Tony Seals. It was first released in 1984 on Willie Nelson's album "Half Nelson" and later included on Ray Charles' album called "Friendship." This song became a big hit and reached number one on the charts.

The song tells a story about a love affair that goes terribly wrong. A man and a woman find themselves in a really dangerous situation. They get surrounded by a group of outlaws, and the lyrics describe what happens next in a dramatic and tragic way.

Ray Charles had quite a few songs that did well on the country music charts, but "Seven Spanish Angels" was his biggest success in the country world. It's a song that people remember as one of the most important moments in both Ray Charles and Willie Nelson's music careers.

They even made a music video for "Seven Spanish Angels." In the video, you can see Ray Charles and Willie Nelson acting out a Western-themed story that goes along with the song's lyrics.

Other artists have also sung this song as a duet. Alison Krauss and Jamey Johnson did their version, and Corb Lund recorded it too. It's a song that's been loved by many people and keeps being remembered and enjoyed.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: 3rd fret
  • Rhythm: down down up down down up down up and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: D, A7, D7, G
Chords & Lyrics


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6. What I'd Say

what id say by ray charles

What I'd Say is a significant song that emerged in 1958 when Ray Charles decided to surprise his audience after a gig. He introduced a song he had written but had not yet recorded. Little did he know that this impromptu performance would have a profound impact and lay the foundation for what we now know as soul music.

The song is celebrated for its irresistible rhythm and the engaging back-and-forth between Ray Charles and his female backup singers, known as the Raelettes. It blends elements of R&B, gospel, and early rock and roll, creating a unique and captivating sound.

Upon its release, "What'd I Say" stirred controversy due to its suggestive and sensual nature. Some radio stations even banned it from airplay initially. However, this controversy seemed to work in its favor, as the song quickly gained immense popularity.

The success of "What'd I Say" was undeniable. It reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1959 and also topped the R&B chart. This recording became one of Ray Charles' most successful and iconic tracks.

Ray Charles held a special connection with this song throughout his career, using it as the closing number for every one of his shows. At the time of its release, Ray Charles was just 28 years old. It was featured on the album of the same name, marking his first top 10 hit and earning him his first gold record.

In essence, "What'd I Say" not only marked a pivotal moment in Ray Charles' career but also played a foundational role in the evolution of soul music, leaving an enduring legacy that continues to captivate audiences.

  • Drop D Tuning: Yes
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: a steady up and down
  • Picking: a few riffs
  • Chords: D, G, A, D7 
Chords & Lyrics


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7. You Don't Know Me

you dont know me by ray charles

You Don't Know Me is a timeless song with a rich history. It was originally penned by Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold, who recorded it as a country ballad back in 1955. Another rendition of the song was done by Jerry Vale in 1956.

However, it was Ray Charles who truly made the song shine in 1962, taking it to the impressive position of #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. While the song's roots are in country music, Ray Charles infused it with a soulful and bluesy essence, elevating it to a new level of richness and emotion.

Ray Charles' rendition of "You Don't Know Me" achieved remarkable commercial success and became one of his signature songs. It not only secured the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart but also claimed the top position on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in 1962.

This song was featured on his 1962 album titled "Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music Vol Two," where it showcased his ability to transcend genres and create a unique blend of musical styles.

Beyond Ray Charles, "You Don't Know Me" has been embraced by numerous artists from various genres. Legends like Elvis Presley, Mickey Gilley, and contemporary artists like Michael Bublé have all been drawn to its enduring charm and universal appeal.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: down down up down up and repeat
  • Picking: No
  • Chords: D, Faug, D7, G, Ddim, B7,Em, A7, Gb, E7, G7, Dmaj7, G, Gm
Chords & Lyrics


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Thanks for stopping by my best of Ray Charles songs for the acoustic page and I hope the info here was useful in helping you learn how to play some of these Ray Charles hits on the guitar.

Ray Charles Official Website

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