In this priceless performance, Ray Stevens sings his hit single, "Honky Tonk Waltz", to the delight of the other guest, Donna Fargo, and Pop! Goes the Country host, Ralph Emery. The performance took place in 1977, several months after the song had hit. The actual single had been released in the latter part of 1976. Ray performed what was then his current single, "Get Crazy With Me", later on in the program. It was during this era that Ray, as you can see, incorporated a guitar into his stage performances and he'd switch from piano playing to guitar strumming on various songs. He was never credited with playing guitar on his albums, though. I believe the guitar was used as an eye-catcher in an attempt to offer the audience something unusual and different...it wasn't everyday you saw a singer at a piano with a guitar strapped to him.
One of the You Tube videos that I came across last month is this one from 1982. It's almost like a candid interview with Ray Stevens conducted by The McCain Brothers. As of this writing the video has only gotten 91 plays and I thought for sure that it would at least get a thousand or more hits but it hasn't and so I'm embedding the video again in this blog in case some missed it the first time around. The video is about the art of songwriting which is something Ray knows a thing or two about. After this video was uploaded I did some research and learned that The McCain Brothers were a duo from Texas who hosted a local television program in Oklahoma for quite a few years but now they're in Los Angeles.
In the above video you'll hear quite a lot about songwriting and you'll also catch a glimpse of how serious Ray takes his career. Even though he's long been associated with comedy material underneath it all beats the heart of a serious musician and songwriter...producer...arranger...actor. Yeah, although some people might not apply the word of "actor" upon Ray Stevens it's worth noting that he had a phase of his career, specifically the late '70s through the mid '80s, where it wasn't uncommon to see Ray pop up on a prime-time show and even a soap opera. He often played fictionalized versions of himself...in one appearance, though, he tackled the role of a singer and demonstrated a dramatic side in one scene by slapping another person across the face. This scene happened in an episode of The Fall Guy. The episode was titled The Pirates of Nashville and it was taped at some point in 1983 and it aired in November of that year. In the episode Ray plays the role of Webb Covington who's estranged from his son, a role played by Leigh McCloskey.
The son, Webb Covington, Jr., happens to be the character who gets slapped in the face. Son insults father and before you can blink an eye...SLAP!!...goes Ray's hand across McCloskey's face. Throughout the episode there's appearances by Dottie West and Charlie Daniels who play themselves. Ray performs "Piece of Paradise Called Tennessee", a song from his 1983 album on Mercury Records entitled Me. His stage attire mirrors the shirt he wore on the 1983 Greatest Hits album that RCA issued. The episode was once uploaded in five parts on You Tube but it has since been removed by it's uploader and that's why it's so fresh in my mind. I never got to see it the first time around in 1983 when it aired on television but I knew of his appearance after having researched his television appearances.
Have any of you purchased your copy of We The People yet? This is the image of Ray that appears on the back of the case. The collection was released last month back on April 1st. The only place you could purchase the collection at that time was at Ray's on-line music store at his web-site. A week or two later it became available as an Mp3 digital album at Amazon. The CD version won't be available for purchase at Amazon until June 8th...however, the CD version's been available at Ray's store for a little over a month now. I suspect there will be more publicity for it's release next month when the CD version goes on sale across the country on-line. At the moment several on-line stores have the CD available for pre-order. The Mp3 digital album was released on April 15th, tax day, even though in the product details it shows that the Mp3 album won't be available until June 15th. This kind of confusion will easily confuse consumers, too.
The on-line store, CD Universe, also has this collection available on June 8, 2010...but you can't purchase an Mp3 download of the entire collection as you can at Amazon. Ray's web-site store has started to offer an Mp3 collection, too. Originally only the CD/DVD collection was offered...which is what you see me holding in both pictures...but they've since added an Mp3 version to their web-site store. As of this writing the hat that you see me wearing is sold-out. The hat has the We The People phrase written across it. At one point the "We The People" single was also sold-out but they've since re-stocked. The music video at You Tube continues to rake in the hits. As of now it's sitting at 3,036,276 plays and it'll probably be raking in the hits around Election 2010 this November. It may surpass 4 million hits by the end of the year...who knows? My wishes for future music videos include "We Are the Government" and "Come to the USA". In the commercial for the collection that's running on You Tube it shows Ray in snippets performing several songs...but it's no indication that those songs will become music videos in the future. The video snippets could have been taped just for the commercial.
The snippets that appear in that commercial are "The Global Warming Song", "The Solar Powered Song", and "We Are the Government"; plus video clips of the ones already on You Tube: "We The People", "Thank You", "Caribou Barbie", and "Throw the Bums Out!". However, having said all of that, I can't see Ray going through the process of making three music video snippets for a commercial...very detailed clips I might add...and not have three full length music videos waiting in the wings. So it may happen that three more music videos will emerge from this collection as seen in the commercial. I uploaded the commercial in a previous blog entry.