Tunes for the Road – Ray Charles, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Tunes for the Road

It was 2005.

I was working at a local hometown radio station during college. Every Saturday in December there would be five hours of special Christmas programming. I’ll keep things confidential, but the special host of this program was, let’s just say, kind of a jerk. A big one.

I ran the sound board (taking calls, playing music, airing commercials, etc.) while he would blather on, hour after hour. Occasionally he would wander out of the studio, where I would be given free reign to play a song or two of my choosing. I was given several dozen albums that had the radio station’s seal of approval, so I would tend to pick things that sounded interesting (as he would pick mostly Barry Manilow songs).

So when this host ran outside to watch the town’s Christmas parade, I noticed Ray Charles’ Christmas album (something I didn’t know existed before seeing it), and cued up “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Innocent enough, right?

After about a minute or two into the song, the radio host barges back into the studio, demanding that I turn whatever I was playing off. He had me fade the song down, and then he proceeded to apologize to the listeners for what they had just heard (two pretty big sins in the radio industry).

After having me switchs over to probably another Manilow track, he asks what I was playing. I told him it was Ray Charles, and it was among the selections I was given for his program. Although I could sense he was slightly embarrassed, he explained that listeners needed to hear things that were the “classics.”

(I didn’t have the heart to tell him Barry Manilow’s album was released 5 years after Ray Charles, but that’s getting nit-picky.)

Either way, that Ray Charles tune has stuck with me. It’s as if myself and the song bonded, sharing an experience together with a pretty crummy person. We served in the trenches together, and it’s a time we’ll never forget. It’s a fun song, and a pretty unique take on the Christmas classic. I hope you enjoy it.

Tim is a husband, father, nomad, and International Media Producer, currently residing in Atlanta. When he’s not spending time with his family or friends, you can usually find him behind a camera or listening to music or podcasts (and lately, trying to write and re-write this pesky bio). Check back here each Wednesday for more Tunes for the Road. And check out his personal blog here

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