“There’s certain dates you play and you know they're important. With America The Beautiful, it was iconic. First of all, there’s the song itself. But the marriage of the song with the singer is what counts, and Ray Charles singing America The Beautiful, well, you can’t improve on that.
“When we cut this, I kept thinking of Ray’s own struggles with the country. He'd been through so much, from being a blind black kid and all that that entails, to playing the clubs in the South and being booed and having to stay in black-only hotels, to fighting for integration and human rights…I felt like we were telling his own story, not just that of the country.
“As a bass player, I knew I had to keep it simple. This wasn’t a song where I was supposed to call attention to the part or move the music. It was all about Ray. All I had to do was find the right spaces and let him shine. There were a couple of fills I did. I think of them as background singers going, ‘Amen!’ That’s the only embellishment you need.”