Ray Agee – It’s Hard To Explain

7th July 2024 · 1970s, 1971, Blues, Music

Here’s a funny thing: I’ve never heard of Ray Agee, or heard his 1971 recording. But I’ve heard the song before – when it was recorded by The Cowboy Junkies.

Their version from 1993 is great but the original is just perfect.
The moody bassline, the rolling organ, the tinkling piano, the tap of the hi-hat – and the plangent guitar solo that comes in halfway through.

“My trouble started when I found you,” sings Ray, setting the scene for a tale of romantic woe that leads him all the way to the doctor, who unsurprisingly can’t help. In the end he concludes: “Sometimes love is so hard to explain.”

Agee, who was born back in 1921 and was disabled by childhood polio, may be a new name to me but he recorded more than 100 R&B and blues tracks between the early ’50s and mid-’70s.

Born in Alabama, the eighth child out of 17 in the family, he started out singing in churches with his brothers in a gospel group called The Agee Brothers after they moved to Los Angeles.

As a solo artist, he’s best known for his 1960 recording of Tin Pan Alley, though he wrote most of his own songs as well as several for other artists, including I’ve Been Wrong So Long for Bobby Bland (1960) and co-wrote I Say I Love You for Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson (1963).

He disappeared from the music business in the ’70s and died in 1989 but one of his songs had some posthumous success when his own 1963 tune Let’s Talk About Love became the title track of a 2007 album by Lurrie Bell.