January 27, 2022

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Makin’ Tracks: Darius Rucker Comes Up With A ‘Masterpiece’

But right up until the final days before its March 12 release on PlayMPE, Rucker was engrossed in a minor battle about how the single was being presented. He specifically resisted what ultimately became the title.

“When we were writing it, we talked about naming it ‘Masterpiece,'” he recalls. “We all agreed [that] it sounded pretentious.”

Instead, he was wedded to its original, more soulful title: “Ray Charles.” The late icon was the inspiration for the song in the first place. Plus, the song’s existence is an ironic extension of Rucker’s previous single, “Beers and Sunshine,” which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart dated Feb. 27.

Rucker wrote “Sunshine” on Zoom in May 2020 with J.T. Harding (“Sangria,” “Different for Girls”), Josh Osborne (“Body Like a Back Road,” “One Man Band”) and Ross Copperman (“Get Along,” “What She Wants Tonight”). In October, Harding — who was camped out for a couple of months at a home that his family owns in Santa Barbara, Calif. — happened to start up his Jeep at the very moment Rucker was talking about “Beers and Sunshine” in a radio interview. And Rucker unwittingly transmitted the title for their next Zoom write during that on-air conversation.

“The DJ said, ‘What have you been doing during quarantine?'” recalls Harding. “And Darius said, pretty much verbatim, ‘I’ve been teaching myself how to play piano, but it has only been a couple of weeks. I’m not exactly Ray Charles.’ The DJ laughed, and Darius laughed — the whole morning crew was laughing — and it kind of just hit me like a lightning bolt: We should write a song called ‘Ray Charles.'”

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