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Ray Price: Love songs will always be here
With a show this Saturday in the Floresville Event Center, country music legend Ray Price is excited and ready to please the people.
“I’ll be glad to come down there; I like all the people of South Texas,” Price said. “[Floresville’s] the kind of place I like to play. I’ve heard a lot about it, but I just haven’t played it.”
Price’s career, which spans more than 63 years, defines country music and has seen collaborations with George Jones, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard. Price was also briefly the roommate of Hank Williams Sr. in the early 1950s before finding success on his own. In 1953, Price formed his current band, the “Cherokee Cowboys”; band members have included Johnny Bush and Nelson.
The 86-year-old Hall of Fame artist said he has continued to tour because that is what he loves.
“I don’t know, it’s just what I love to do,” Price said. “[I’m] doing what comes natural, I guess. I enjoy entertaining people and singing for them; it’s my whole life, been at it a little over 63 years. People have been good to me; we still draw huge crowds and they seem to enjoy it very much. That’s enough for me.”
Although Price has been performing for much of his life, he still feels a little nervous when about to perform, as he has an inherent desire to perform well for his fans.
“I don’t care who you are, there’s always a little bit of anxiety before you go on stage, because you’re anxious to please the people,” Price said. “Then, when you get on stage, you have to see how it’s going and then it’s easy to do. It’s really a lot of work. You have to figure your audience out.”
Until recently, Price was in the habit of looking just above the audience.
“... when I say above, I mean right over their heads,” Price said. “Until, just here lately, like the last year or so, I began to look at them and I’m seeing the expressions on them and I have been missing a lot of that. I should have been looking long before that. I see and hear a lot of reaction that, frankly, makes me feel great.”
People of all ages have an appreciation for Price’s music. His songs are covered still by many artists and are played by the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets before every football game. Price said he enjoys the widespread appreciation of his music.
“It’s great; it’s what I’ve been wanting,” Price said. “It’s kind of opening the door and there it is. It’s great. I like to see the reaction from seeing the young people. It means my kind of music is not going to just dry up and die right away.”
Price’s music helped shape the development of country and western swing. But he voiced sharp criticism of what is out there in the genre today.
“First, let’s put it where it is,” Price said. “The stuff nowadays is not country music; it never has been. The stuff now is rock ’n’ roll disguising itself as country music to the younger people. It’s not that at all. And it’s almost destroyed music as a whole.
“And my fans, I found out, want to hear the music. ... They don’t want to hear rackets or noise, screaming or jumping up and down, turning your back on the audience, doing everything rude you can think of. They don’t like that. Not my fans, anyway, and I wouldn’t do that anyway.”
Price is optimistic about the future of his type of music, particularly the love songs.
“It’ll always stay around,” Price said. “As long as people have love or fall in love, there’ll always be the need for a love song. So love songs will always be here through all eternity. They may be a little bit different, but they’ll all be love songs.”
As for retirement, the 86-year-old said it’s not in the cards.
“As long as my voice is still strong and as good as it is right now, and I have the strength to do it, and the will, I’ll do it until that stops,” Price said. “If my voice starts dropping or getting bad, I will not subject my fans to that; I’ll quit. But until then, as long as I’m having fun, I’m going to do it until doomsday, whenever that is.”
Ray Price and the “Cherokee Cowboys” will take the stage after Bobby Flores and the “Yellow Rose Band” on Nov. 3 starting at 7 p.m. in the Floresville Event Center.
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