May 25, 2010

Ray Stevens: Misty is 35!

Dedicated Ray Stevens fans...I should say longtime fans...know the story of how Ray decided to record his version of "Misty". According to various recollections from Ray it all happened in a recording studio while rehearsing for an upcoming television program. The "Misty" song was being performed in an upbeat delivery...much different from the slow style that pop audiences were familiar with from Johnny Mathis. The uptempo delivery of the song started to sound good, according to Ray's recollection, that he called up the necessary people to the studio and recorded the song...and the arrangement won Ray his second Grammy. The song would become a Top-20 pop hit and a Top-5 country hit in 1975. I happen to love the arrangement...I'm sure purists have a different opinion altogether and they perhaps prefer the slow, half-awake rendering...but I happen to like Ray's wide-awake, toe tapping arrangement of the song. Here's a performance from 1975...

I just love that arrangement!!! Can you sit still while that steel guitar is picking away like that? "Misty" is among the list of signature songs for Ray Stevens. There's an imaginary list of songs that are very popular with audiences/fans and those are signature songs. It doesn't require that the artist is the writer, though. The requirement is basically popularity with consumers. A certain kind of popularity that stands the test of time long after the commercial viability of the song wears out.

You can find the song on dozens of compilation projects that various labels, both major and Independent, have issued on Ray Stevens through the years. Ray re-recorded the song for an animated music video in 2006 and this recording usually appears on recent collections instead of the 1975 original. The 2006 animated music video first appeared on the Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens DVD that Curb Records released.

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