Ray Charles, “Busted”

We all experience money problems, but maybe not as severe as the narrator in “Busted,” recorded in 1963 by Ray Charles and written by one of Nashville’s early professional full-time songwriters, Harlan Howard. The song is about a poor farmer having trouble feeding his family, bemoaning his unpaid bills, and asking his brother for help, only to find out his brother is in the same boat. The farmer decides to pack up his family and hit the road to look for a better life. “Busted” won the 1963 Grammy for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording for Charles, whose two previous albums had been covers of country songs, even though “Busted,” written by a country writer, was on an album called Ingredients in a Recipe for Soul. The lyric may have sounded semi-humorous to an urban population with lines like I got a cow that's gone dry and a hen that won't lay and I hate to beg like a dog for a bone, though anybody who was really broke would have been able to identify with it. And it was probably a very real sentiment to some rural families, or veterans of the Great Depression or Dust Bowl survivors who…

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