October 29, 2008

Me...no not me as in me...Me as in Ray Stevens

Arriving in 1983 on the Mercury label, this Ray Stevens album celebrates it's Silver Anniversary. It produced one chart hit, "My Dad", amongst the material. The album cover is clever, titled "Me", which is named for one of the ballad's on the under-rated album. Ray's daughter makes a guest vocal appearance on a song entitled "Yolanda".

The songs range from light-hearted sing-a-longs like "Yolanda" and "Piece of Paradise Called Tennessee" to emotional ballads such as "Me", "Mary Lou Nights", "My Dad", and "Love Will Beat Your Brains Out". On that particular recording Ray warns us that he'll never fall in love again and goes on to tell us why and that he's had enough because he only gets hurt in the end. "Me" is a self-reflective type of song in that it explains a man who finally finds the right person and is comfortable enough to be just himself. "My Dad", the main single from the album, is an ode to father's everywhere. "Special Anniversary" wins in the category of saddest song on the album. The song is short but it says so much. It's about a man who meets up with a woman by accident in a restaurant who happens to be with her new lover and we hear a one-sided conversation. The man and his former lover accidentally see one another on the first year anniversary of her leaving.

Ray has lots of things to say to this woman including letting her know that he's still alone after she left him. As he and his former lover are about to part ways he thanks her for their special anniversary.

Loneliness is the subject of "Mary Lou Nights". The lead instrument being a harmonica sets the tone of the song. In the song, Ray sings about a woman named Mary Lou and how he misses her and this causes him to have what he calls "Mary Lou Nights" because she appears in his dreams. "Piedmont Park" is a ballad about a man who meets a woman he hasn't seen in a long time and the bittersweet awkwardness when he finds out she wants to hook up with him but the problem is he's already married by now. "Kings and Queens" is a quaint love ballad...nothing too fancy...it's a story of a man and woman who live a simple life but they feel like royalty because their life is uncluttered and free from stress.

The up-tempo songs on this album are few but there are some. "Yolanda", which features his daughter, Suzi, as a guest vocalist, is south of the border in it's music arrangement. Yolanda is the name of a woman who works in a restaurant in Mexico that the men all fall in love with. "Piece of Paradise Called Tennessee" would have been a wonderful song for the chamber of commerce in Tennessee to use to promote the state but sadly it wasn't promoted in that direction. The song is a boastful, pride-filled declaration of all things good about Tennessee specifically Music City USA, a/k/a Nashville.

Lastly, we have "Game Show Love", which is a very clever song. A game show fan myself, specifically older game shows, this rates up there as my favorite of this album. The lyrics of the song simply combines game show titles and game show catch-phrases and puts them in a love song setting. It's a neat song name-dropping all sorts of game shows and catch-phrases like "come on down" and "survey says...". The song closes out the Me album.

So, a happy Silver Anniversary to the Ray Stevens Me album from me and all of Ray's fans.

1. Love Will Beat Your Brains Out
2. Mary Lou Nights
3. Piedmont Park
4. Special Anniversary
5. Me
6. My Dad
7. Piece of Paradise Called Tennessee
8. Yolanda
9. Kings and Queens
10. Game Show Love

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