Hit The Road Jack
Release Date: October 1st, 1961
Words by: Whaley Big Jesus
February 23rd, 2012
Percy Mayfield wrote and recorded 'Hit The Road Jack' in 1960. The track was subsequently stock piled as another acapella demo, until Ray Charles got his hands on it a year and a half later and turned it into one of the most iconic tunes ever recorded.
'Somewhere over the Rainbow', 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'; it's perhaps not too much of a stretch to place the hook from 'Hit The Road Jack' in the same basket as the two aforementioned in terms of embeddedness within the perpetual fabric of universally relatable culture. In simple terms – everyone knows this song. If you were to accost someone who claimed to have devoutly abstained from listening to music throughout their life time, chances are if you popped some headphones on them and played this number, the reaction would be either:
1) 'Of course I've heard that, yeah everyone's heard that! It floats around in the ether, it's unavoidable.'
2) They would be singing along to the instantly ingrained hook by the mid point of the tune.
All that aside though, this song is a classic no matter how you look at it and no matter what stigma is attached. The timbre of Ray's vocal is simply unparalleled, and the way his voice and piano stylings' exude an otherworldly sense of energy has clearly inspired every other musician in the room during the recording of this track. It pulses with passion and fire, the likes of which can only be found when listening to truly inspired works of art.