The laughs never stop when we're discussing Ray Stevens...from the latest smash music video, "Come to the USA", to the earliest comical outings of the early '60s which include "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon", "Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills", "Ahab the Arab", and "Harry the Hairy Ape". In between the laughter there was a lot of dead serious recordings as well...those who stumble upon my blog can browse through the archives for in-depth analysis of Ray Stevens' serious work. I write a lot about this 1978 album, Be Your Own Best Friend. I love the album! Right from the start of the album on through it's last song...the album, to my ears anyway, provides an escape. The sound is lush and smooth...yeah, some would call it "elevator music"...but I like the music featured on the album.
Just prior to Ray's newly acquired success with You Tube music videos he had issued a Christmas CD with all-serious recordings. Prior to that release he was promoting his trucker CD, One For the Road. The promotion included hype centering around "Cooter Brown". This particular song amassed a modest following on-line...but it wasn't a music video. Several months later "We The People" hits You Tube and it spreads all over the internet...changing, for now, the focus of his career. Highly political and patriotic, Ray's recent music video successes defy critical explanation. Those who simply have no clue as to why or how Ray Stevens is enjoying such incredible mainstream success right now will perhaps continue to remain clueless.
In the early 1990's when Ray was having widespread mainstream successes with his home video releases it always baffled the critics...perhaps they felt an artist of Ray's longevity was immune from mainstream viability? Maybe even the most crass or cynical are able to let go with a belly-laugh when appropriate? It's okay to laugh at Ray's jokes...it's okay to hum along to "Ahab the Arab"...it's okay to giggle when Ray performs "It's Me Again, Margaret"...it's a lot of fun watching Ray perform "The Streak" and deliver the catch-phrases we all know and love.
The bottom line is Ray Stevens makes us laugh...the humorless, well, I'll never figure that bunch out. There are those people out there who just don't laugh or find anything amusing but they're thankfully the minority. Continue on, Ray Stevens...never stop doing what it is that you do.