Today we celebrate the 85th birthday of the greatest voice in all of country music, Ray Price. I know George Jones has legions of acolytes who would happily take issue with this, but as much as I love Jones, I stand by my vote. Over a career that's now spanned some six decades, Price has been the voice behind an extensive array of honky-tonk gems featuring an irresistible beat known today as the "Ray Price shuffle." The sound was fully realized for the first time on Crazy Arms, recorded in 1956.
Price described the new sound to writer John Morthland this way in 1980. "The sound they had going at the time in country was a 2/4 sound and a double-stop fiddle. I added drums to it, which had been done before, but not much, and a 4/4 bass and shuffle rhythm and the single string fiddle. We came up with it right there on the session (for Crazy Arms). I don't know why or where from; that's just what I wanted." (This description was lifted from Rich Kienzle's 2003 volume Southwest Shuffle: Pioneers of Honky-Tonk, Western Swing, And Country Jazz. It's hard to find these days, but well worth tracking down. Google Books has put large chunks of it online.)