February 22, 2010

Ray Stevens: We The People music video, Part Five

Inching ever so close to three million hits is "We The People", the current single from Ray Stevens. The play count now sits at 2,701,080. It's anyone's guess how many more plays the video will get on You Tube...I realize I was saying this same thing back when the music video had just gotten two million hits!!

It's a rainy and dreary day in this part of the country and most of the afternoon was spent looking up vintage newspaper articles about Ray Stevens. It's a hobby...well, not really a hobby...but it's fun nevertheless. I was looking through archives from 1987 when "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?" was the current Ray Stevens single. I do a lot of this to get a feel of the news coverage, either local or national, when it came to Ray during whichever year I decide to focus on. I like to compare and contrast current coverage with past coverage and I like to see the changing moods of writers who do the write-up's just to see how poor or how well the authors are in their reporting and coverage.

Also, I like finding pictures of Ray that newspapers used when they did a Ray Stevens write-up. I won't be posting any of them but I've saved them for my personal collection. A lot of the pictures I've come across are rare, too. It wasn't until, I believe, the late '80s that newspapers began to use publicity pictures over and over of the artist. If a newspaper would happen to write something today about Ray Stevens they'd pull out any number of publicity pictures from the 1990's...that is, if they even use a picture at all. In today's world of cyber-news most write-up's shun using a publicity picture of the artist.

I will admit that a lot of newspaper articles, largely beginning in the early to mid '90s, aren't as flattering as, say, a write-up of Ray from the mid '80s or earlier. A lot of this, I believe, has to do with the evolution of the music critic/reporter. In an earlier time a reporter or a critic for a newspaper sometimes, but not always, acted as a publicity tool for whatever artist they were doing a write-up about. The writers that covered Ray Stevens were almost always gushy and filled with praise. Today's music columnists and critics are almost the exact opposite: the writers today more or less dog an artist, gripe about concert ticket or CD prices, gripe about the lack of concerts, or they put the singer on trial for being commercial.

The coverage, generally, is much more harsh and confrontational than it used to be. As the dedicated Ray Stevens fan that I am, I prefer to read positive write-up's about Ray's music and career...which I assume is true for those who read this blog.

Here's one of the stories I came across on Ray Stevens. The exact date was March 1, 1988 and so it's almost 22 years old. The item isn't actually a story but an opinion piece written by none other than Paul Harvey. Yes...you read that correctly...the late radio commentator devoted one of his opinion columns to the scandals taking place in the realm of religious television. Specifically televangelists...and even more specifically, Ray's 1987 hit "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?". The column wasn't an attack on the song...it basically used the song as a kind of window, or frame work, for the scandal that was taking place.

In another article I found elsewhere it quotes Ray as saying that the question being asked in the song isn't up to him to answer. Now, by saying this, he firmly established the fact that he's the singer asking a question...and that it's up to other people to form their own conclusions. It was eerie to read the newspaper article because of how it mirrors the current scenario of "We The People" and how those opposed to that particular song assume it's Ray's job to offer solutions instead of just offering opinion. In a recent article he states that it's up to the people to decide if they like Obama Care or not and that people are free to oppose the song if they choose but people are also free to agree with it. It's one of those history repeating itself moments.

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