November 14, 2010

Ray Stevens...Critical Reaction...

One of the things that I'll never understand is the broad brush approach when it comes to criticism of early vs. contemporary. That kind of thing is rampant for any singer or TV show or anything else that has some longevity and I've never understood why there's a need for consumers, fans, the public in general to feel as if they have to compare/contrast to a fault. Some people go out of their way to point out that so and so isn't "as good as they once were" or "that TV show's still on?? I quit watching years ago!" or how about this one "why doesn't he/she just retire?? Nobody likes them!!". If you're like I am and you see commentary like that you automatically assume that those who make statements like that are, quite simply, full of themselves. This kind of thing is what I often speak out against on-line because it plays into the stereotype that critics are nothing more than elitist snobs. Whenever you come across blogs or message boards and the authors are rambling away about how better they are compared to the song, singer, or TV show they happened to come across I hope you tune out that kind of elitist expression. As far as music goes it's generally considered music snobbery.

If I were an elitist critic I'd feel compelled to quote myself all the would be something along the lines of this:

"Admittedly, I don't feel negative criticism of Ray Stevens is useful simply because Ray has never deserved any negative criticism as far as I'm concerned."

Now, of course, you all know I actually hold that opinion...but I don't go around quoting it at every opportunity. I also promote and encourage others to listen to Ray Stevens music or catch him on a TV or radio show. This is a far cry from encouraging people to dislike Ray Stevens and it's also a far cry from making fun of him at any opportunity...which is what those other bloggers and critics often do. Apparently those who don't particularly care for Ray are, for the most part, doing so to appear hip to some social or political faction of some kind. In other words, music snobbery again. It's obvious that the negative criticism that froths up toward Ray is based on some desired outcome by those who spread the criticism around. As far as Ray is concerned there's never, in my opinion, been any instance where negative criticism was justified. The negative criticisms that pop up about Ray through the years have quite frankly been unfair.

I can say those kinds of things and it not be classified as music snobbery because I've researched and looked at a lot of music reviews and message boards through the years and that's how I arrive at my opinion. I'm not saying negative criticisms of Ray are unfair just because I'm a fan of his. I've did the research to back up my opinion. However...some people out there...they do NO research and spout off their opinions at the drop of a hat. It's those kind of people who are the true music snobs.


Click the above image for a bigger look. It's a promo copy of Ray's 1961 comedy single, "Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills". Obviously the song title is much longer than that but as I mentioned in a previous blog entry...Ray Stevens fans know of the song by various titles. The reason I use this image is to concentrate on the natural urge of most people to compare early vs. contemporary at any chance. As mentioned the single debuted in'll have some people say that the song is "silly, foolish...a waste of time". You'll also have some who say "it's a brilliant use of tomfoolery and nonsense". There are those who detest any recording that deviates from what they consider normal. Then you'll have those who like the song just because they like it. Looking beyond that you'll have some who will argue that this song represents Ray Stevens at his best...and some only champion his early '60s work on Mercury Records and they dismiss everything else he did. That would be a form of music snobbery of course. It's also incredibly short-sighted at the same time when you dismiss a lengthy, eclectic body of work for a handful of recordings in the early '60s.

This form of music snobbery can go both ways, too. As the example's short-sighted to dismiss Ray's career except for a few early '60s recordings but it's also just as short-sighted to only want to hear his comical recordings and nothing else. I've come across plenty of people on-line who have no interest or desire to want to hear the serious side of Ray Stevens and there's also just as many who are bitter that Ray clings to comedy instead of singing serious "meaningful" material.

Well, it's that kind of dismissive-selective approach on top of the unfair negative criticism I wrote about at the start of this blog entry that inspired me to start this fan-driven Ray Stevens blog page a couple of years ago. That is why this blog page gives plenty of coverage to all sides of Ray Stevens...and I don't just focus on a handful of recordings...I talk about contemporary Ray Stevens and classic Ray Stevens with equal enthusiasm. Hopefully this blog has gone a long way at exposing a ton of great Ray Stevens material that otherwise would slip by without much notice.

Latest You Tube numbers for "Nightmare Before Christmas" are 23,307. The music video is almost 2 weeks old and so it's on pace to reach 40,000 hits in 2 weeks time (but don't quote me on that). I continue to predict that it'll gain higher numbers by the end of the month as Christmas season gets underway. There's not been any promotional appearances for the video...but it's being offered as a DVD single at Ray's web-site store. The special offer also includes a CD copy of his 1997 comedy Christmas release and his 2009 serious Christmas release. The item is actually called The Christmas Gift Pack and you can check it out and buy it here.

It may be hard to believe for some but Ray has only made two Christmas music videos...back in the mid '80s he made "Santa Claus Is Watching You" and then "Nightmare Before Christmas" came along about two weeks he's got plenty of material available on both the 1997 and 2009 CD's in case he ever wants to put a lot of these songs into video form for a future project of holiday music videos.

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