July 4, 2015

Ray Stevens Star Spangled Banner...

Hello once again...yes, this is my second 4th of July blog entry...earlier I did a re-cap of the 2011 Ray Stevens album, Spirit of '76. In this entry I decided to highlight a couple of versions of the same song. The song is "There's a Star Spangled Banner" and perhaps only the more detailed of fans are aware that there are 2 different versions of this song from Ray Stevens. The song's melody remains the same and it's chorus does, too, but the verses in each recording are completely different.

The song originated on the 1989 Ray Stevens album Beside Myself from the pens of Ray and Buddy Kalb. In this recording Ray sings about a prisoner in Beirut and the confidence and faith the prisoner has in the United States flag. A couple of years later a different recording emerged on the Curb Records compilation, Greatest Hits, issued in 1991. In this updated recording Ray sings about the various battles that the United States military has fought and all the victories and some losses that the American flag's been a part of through history.

Each recording is available for purchase on Amazon but there's no distinction made differentiating one recording from the other. If you purchase THIS Mp3 of "There's a Star Spangled Banner" then you're getting the 1989 recording. The 1991 recording isn't available by itself and so you'll need to purchase the full length Mp3 of Greatest Hits located HERE. I like that photo!!

Ray had re-recorded and partially re-wrote the 1989 song for a special project Curb Records issued during the Gulf War in 1991. That project hit on April 29, 1991 and it was titled American Music: Greatest Hits. It featured patriotic songs by those on the Curb Records roster at the time. Ray's 1989 recording happened to be for MCA Records and if you see it listed on any compilation released by MCA or one of it's subsidiary labels then you're going to get the 1989 recording. Ironic enough Ray's 1991 re-recording of "There's a Star Spangled Banner" debuted on Greatest Hits (it having been released on April 15, 1991) and so it's debut on the Greatest Hits album predated it's appearance on the April 29th project by 2 weeks but the main reason for the re-recording happened to be for the various artist compilation Curb issued.

There are some internet sites that list Ray's song as "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" but that's an entirely different song altogether. Ray's song is "There's a Star Spangled Banner". If you see any internet sites mistakenly call Ray's song the former rather than the latter politely correct them. Accuracy is something I strive for when it comes to Ray Stevens information and trivia.

Ray Stevens and the Spirit of '76, Part 11...

Happy 4th of July to all the fans of Ray Stevens! In April of 2011 a CD from Ray Stevens emerged and it immediately became a fan favorite. Spirit of '76 contains 11 recordings from Ray Stevens and each of them feature a topical and or political slant...some songs feature both. In the earliest years of the Obama Administration and the Tea Party movement it shouldn't be overlooked that our Ray Stevens happened to be one of the most vocal amongst the music acts. Criticizing the Obama Administration and embracing the ideals of the smaller Government Tea Party advocates had an impact in the 2010 midterm election cycle.

Combining topical humor, political commentary, and patriotism became the foundation for Spirit of '76. The project featured 5 songs that became music video hits on YouTube/social media...as such this could be interpreted as one of Ray's biggest successes if you factor in the amount of video popularity associated with the songs.

I purchased Spirit of '76 as an Mp3 in April of 2011. It remained an exclusive Mp3 release until the fall of 2011...it emerged in CD format at that point in time and so I purchased the CD counterpart, too. At the time of the CD's release only a couple of songs had become video hits and then throughout the rest of the year the remaining video releases soon emerged. If one happens to examine this era of Ray's career, in hindsight, it all appears perfectly timed but yet for those like myself we know that from day to day, week to week, month to month it was pretty much a roller coaster ride for as soon as you'd reach the height of a music video's initial popularity, it would reach a valley, and then when you're least expecting it the video would soar into  popularity once again. Given the unpredictable nature of topicality a music video featuring political commentary/humor and those that center on topical events are largely at the mercy of the collective news cycle. If Obama and one of his machinations seems to be dominating the news cycle then more than likely a video by Ray about Obama gets a boost in unique views. The topic of the environment/Green Energy comes and goes...and on this CD there's "Cap'n Trade the Pirate"...a song mixing pirate lore and Green Energy that should have been made into a music video but it wasn't.
The very first release from this CD turned out to be the third track, "God Save Arizona", on August 4, 2010! That particular song in music video form emerged in the fall of 2010 during the peak of the controversies surrounding illegal immigration and the State's court battles with the Federal Government. Issued as a music video exclusive it struck the same kind of chord that a previous video about illegal immigration from Ray Stevens did. At the time of the release of "God Save Arizona" there was no talk of it being part of any upcoming CD. So, then, once Spirit of '76 became available fans noticed that "God Save Arizona" appeared as track 3 and so it retro-actively became the CD's first video release. This ballad has gotten 1,053,472 unique views. For those that may not be aware, this video created controversy during it's first day of release and was taken off-line after it had obtained nearly 100,000 discoveries. The issue surrounding the video apparently resolved itself because not long afterward the video re-emerged but the previous views had been erased and so it's rather appropriate if you want to add at least a hundred thousand to the current tally.

The CD's opening track, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", became a video in the early part of 2011 and ironically it, at the time, was being promoted as the first release from Spirit of '76. This amusing song/video has to do with the TSA at the airport and the body scans. The video hit in February 2011 and to date it's gotten a little more than half a million unique views at 555,404.

As mentioned previously the music videos are like roller coasters and those numbers for the video didn't come all at once. The video seen it's release a little less than 2 months before the Spirit of '76 became available.

The biggest successes from the CD centered around Obama. Several weeks after the Mp3 of Spirit of '76 became available "Obama Budget Plan" became his next video release on April 25th. The video, as one can guess from the song's title, is about the Federal budget (or lack thereof). The song comically tells the story of a man that comes up with an idea to print money from his basement. He figures if it's perfectly fine for the Government to print money and rack up trillions of dollars in debt then it shouldn't be illegal or unethical for the tax payer to get in on the money printing business. Currently sitting at 3,869,283 unique views it's the biggest hit from the CD.

The second biggest video hit from Spirit of '76 comes in the form of "Mr. President - Mr. President", a video that seen it's social media debut on September 27, 2011. In this video Ray portrays a fictional reporter stationed at the White House "asking" Obama a series of questions. The visual hook is that a video snippet of Obama appears at a podium as if Ray's really asking him questions. The song highlights the reputation Obama has of mixed up priorities. To date that particular video has gotten 1,632,890 unique views.

The fifth release from the CD came along more than a year later on November 3, 2012. "Grandpa Voted Democrat" was certainly a surprise release. It's not a surprise that it eventually became a music video but considering that more than a year had passed from the release of the previous video from the CD it wouldn't have been out of the ordinary to assume 2011's "Mr President - Mr. President" to be the CD's final video single...yet Ray emerged just prior to Election Day 2012 with the voter fraud satire "Grandpa Voted Democrat" and to date it's gotten 637,364 unique views. It's the fifth and final release from Spirit of '76 and you can purchase your copy HERE if you want to add it to your Ray Stevens collection.

June 29, 2015

Ray Stevens: You Didn't Build That...

Hello once more...and once again it's time to take a look at the results of the most recent YouTube offerings from Ray Stevens (specifically his previous series of music video releases).

Less than a year ago on September 24, 2014 Ray issued the music video "If You Like Your Plan". The song's title is based upon a catchphrase bandied around on campaign trails by Obama and those that support ObamaCare. The video offers a visual hook during the performance (obviously!) and so it's one of those songs that hold the distinction of debuting in video form prior to it's release as on CD/Mp3. To date that particular music video has received 104,932 unique views.

The simple truth is everyone that has healthcare has seen changes in their plans due to ObamaCare.

Beginning in January of this year my healthcare plan suddenly implemented a deductible. I'd had this plan for a number of years (through my employer) and had never, ever had to meet any kind of deductible until this year. Somebody somewhere decided my plan is part of a "high end medical plan" and therefore it requires a deductible now. I've not met that deductible and it's mathematically impossible to meet it during a 12 month calendar period.

It's no surprise that since 2009 Ray's become much more visible as a music video artist...and his YouTube channel is home to a variety of video clips of current, previous, and classic productions including clips from his 1970 summer television program!!

A video that's been lost amidst the other releases is "Nero Fiddled". It's a strong social commentary ballad that perhaps is a bit too strong for some to digest but it's nonetheless a gripping performance. It hit YouTube a little more than a month after "If You Like Your Plan".

Nero emerged on October 10, 2014 and so far it's gotten 38,836 unique views. One of the unusual aspects of the video is Ray appearing with his back to the camera at various moments throughout the video. At the beginning of the video he's seen playing the fiddle in suit and tie (presumably as Obama) and at various moments there's footage of Ray in ancient Rome attire (back to the camera) as Nero.The idea of Ray appearing with his back to the camera is apparently a reference to the idea of Nero/Obama turning their back to tragedy...

Shifting from political but still remaining in the topical category is Ray's previous music video...the novelty song titled "Taylor Swift is Stalking Me". This video's gotten more than 200,000 unique views since it's debut on February 24th. The most recent total as of this writing is 242,157. The song was Ray's first release off of his current CD, Here We Go Again!.

Ray's current video hit, "You Didn't Build That", is the second release from his current CD. This particular video hasn't reached it's full potential yet...sitting at the moment with 32,765 unique views. It's only been available on YouTube since May 19th and given the lack of a major political story in the national headlines (at the moment) the video hasn't gotten that boost that I feel it'll receive at some point. Unlike audio recordings that need boosts from radio airplay to reach a mass audience an on-line music video needs a boost from video sharing on social media outlets to reach a mass audience. If there's coverage on television or through talk radio (for politically driven songs) then that's an added bonus...but by and large on-line music videos live and die through social media and video sharing.

The song centers around Obama's social belief that human beings owe the Government their time, respect, and worship for all that the Government provides "to the people". Those that build roads, bridges, buildings, etc. should be thankful to the Government because if not for the Government "the people" couldn't get loans, tax breaks, assistance, or anything else. In the mindset of Obama a person doesn't do anything on their own and the Federal and State Government is the glue that holds a society together.

I just explained socialism in less than a paragraph...and Ray Stevens further demonstrates the socialism that exists under the surface in Obama's policies. I recommend all of you that are reading this to share this video with your friends if you hadn't done so already...