December 28, 2010

Ray Stevens...2010 Year in Review...

As I look back on 2010 in the career of Ray Stevens I should also say that this will perhaps be my last blog entry for the year. I had planned on taking a break and then start back up in 2011 but I decided to write one more before 2010 came to an end.

2010, for Ray Stevens, was all about incredible successes on the video hosting web-site, You Tube, among other things. The initial success began in December 2009 when a music video, "We The People", was uploaded onto You Tube. The song is all about being in opposition to ObamaCare, the nick-name of the health care overhaul that was being drafted and making it's way through Congress. In some circles the supporters of ObamaCare see it as "health care reform" whereas those who are in opposition see it as "health care transform". The video became a runaway success and in a month's time it had amassed over 2 million hits. In the world of on-line videos, a "hit" is equal to a play, or, a, in other words, the video had been viewed/played over two million times in the span of 30 days. The success of the video led to a segment on The O'Reilly Factor, the highly rated cable program on the Fox News Channel. This single, one-time mention of Ray's video on O'Reilly's program caused Ray's web-site to crash that same evening as thousands of people attempted to access the site for more information about the song. The site was back up and running later on that night.

As the on-line popularity of "We The People" continued Ray eventually appeared on O'Reilly's program to give a much more in-depth account of the song's impact and it's political overtones. In the interview O'Reilly brought up political correctness and asked Ray what he felt about it and if it's caused him to stop performing some of his songs which have been labeled politically incorrect. As a Ray Stevens fan I felt as if I already knew his answer but for the national public at large they were treated to a response they perhaps weren't accustomed to hearing. Ray didn't necessarily take up for political correctness but he didn't come across as a fan, neither. He and O'Reilly reminisced about a pre-Politically correct era where people weren't so uptight and overly sensitive.

In the aftermath of "We The People" and his appearance on O'Reilly's program Ray found himself a focal point of the liberal-progressive left in their series of talking-point blogs. Throughout much of early to mid 2010 the liberal blogosphere seemed to have a new target for their venom: Ray Stevens. You couldn't do a Ray Stevens blog search during January through July 2010 and not see some sort of liberal leaning blog attacking Ray's songs and the Tea Party, for which "We The People" was closely identified.

In March of 2010 Ray uploaded two music videos on You Tube: "Caribou Barbie" and "Throw the Bums Out!". "Caribou Barbie" is a music video filled with visual gags about left-wing cable news broadcasters while at the same time being all about Sarah Palin. The video uses a Palin impersonator and several of her catch-phrases are inserted into the song. "Throw the Bums Out!", on the other hand, takes aim at Congress right on the heels of ObamaCare being signed into law along party lines.

In April, Ray released his 22-song collection, We The People, to those who frequent his web-site. The collection was only available at Ray's web-site store through June...after which it became available nationwide.

On April 15, 2010 Ray further involved himself in the Tea Party by appearing at their tax day event in Washington, D.C. and singing several songs for the crowd. On April 24th Ray was saluted as a Nashville Cat in a series that took place at the Country Music Hall of Fame. The special was video streamed on-line at the Hall of Fame's web-site. The special concentrated on Ray's behind-the-scenes work on recording sessions in the '50s, '60s, and the first half of the '70s. The special also highlighted his own recording success, too. It was a very thorough look into his career. Ray appeared in person to offer first hand knowledge about the clips and information being highlighted.

The "We The People" music video obtained over 3,000,000 hits by the late spring of 2010 and by December it would vault into the 4,000,000 category.

On May 13, 2010 Ray uploaded another music video onto You Tube...this particular video tackled illegal immigration and it coincided with Arizona's controversy with illegal immigration...and the bill that was drafted to help combat the problem. The video, "Come to the USA", takes a light-hearted, but pointed look at illegal immigration by sarcastically pointing out that America has the most gracious and hospitable attitude toward illegal immigrants. In the song Ray points out how severe foreign immigration laws are in comparison to America and how in any other country in the world an illegal immigrant would face all kinds of harsh treatment for entering illegally but yet in America the illegals are given a free pass, some are given sanctuary, and a lot of voter-hungry politicians cheer for Amnesty as an answer to the problem. At the core of the song is the hypocrisy that exists among foreign presidents and dictators who uphold their own far worse immigration policies while calling out Arizona as some sort of evil empire.

The "Come to the USA" music video, as you could imagine, created a whole different controversy than "We the People" did. The illegal immigration issue has always been a dicey one and those who've chosen to take it on have always been charged of being racist in some way. Even if racism isn't part of a person's make-up, the liberal's think that anyone whose against illegal immigration must really be against immigrants altogether. Liberals apparently have some sort of degree in psychology given that they always think that they know the inner workings of every single human being.

This video, as I mentioned, caused a lot of controversy and it got some attention from an unlikely source: The New York Times. A reporter/columnist decided to do a write-up on Ray's latest was surprisingly a positive write-up but the readers of the publication didn't appreciate the glowing words and positive vibes. Later, Ray appeared on the Fox News Channel once again...this time during the daytime hours on a show hosted by Megyn Kelly. He was interviewed by Megyn about the video and the illegal immigration battle. The music video quickly amassed over 2,000,000 hits and in no time at all was knocking on the door of 3,000,000! The music video was so controversial and so popular that it obtained over 4,000,000 has the distinction of being the first Ray Stevens video to reach 4,000,000 hits...followed a few months later by "We the People".

Upon it's nationwide June release, the We The People CD quickly hit the Country albums chart as well as the Comedy albums chart. Later in June, Ray released a new music video on You Tube...this time around "The Global Warming Song" got it's exposure. The song, of course, deals with global warming and how a lot of people feel that it's nothing but a hoax by the EPA and other environment agencies. The song purposely takes place at a frozen wasteland as two brothers await the warming of the continent. The brothers have a plan to turn the frozen wasteland into a tropical resort once things start to heat up. In the video there's a news banner that crawl along the screen with hilarious news items.

During the months of July and August 2010 Ray was featured on a PBS series hosted by Marvin Hamlisch. The special, Marvin Hamlisch Presents the 1970's: The Way We Were, featured Ray performing "The Streak", "Misty", and "Everything Is Beautiful".

In early August 2010 Ray uploaded a new music video on You Tube...this particular video was not part of his We the People CD and it was not a comical recording. This song, "God Save Arizona", is a serious ballad detailing the war between the Federal Government and Arizona over illegal immigration. The song starts off with a tribute to the U.S.S. Arizona war ship but then the song glides into a critical assessment of the Attorney General for his politically correct positions on: illegal immigration, foreign and domestic affairs, and his infamous "nation of cowards" remark. All of it is wrapped up in a stirring ballad that asks God to save Arizona from the clutches of the Federal Government. The video's gotten over half a million hits so far. The updated hit count as of 12/28/2010 is 584,958.

In addition to all of the success on You Tube in 2010, Ray made a return to Branson, Missouri. Each time he returns to Branson it's always a time for fun and to look-back on the town that he helped put on the map in the early 1990's. Once upon a time Ray owned and operated a theater in Branson...this theater was up and running for three sold-out seasons: 1991, 1992, and 1993. It was during this era that Branson, Missouri had become nationally famous for it's stunning display of music theaters and other attractions. Obviously such a place for country music, primarily, tickled the funny bones of a lot of snobbish critics who dubbed the place "Las Vegas-lite" due to the visual resemblance of a Vegas strip of theaters, especially at night, but with a much more family-friendly appeal. Ray closed down his theater in 1994 but then re-opened it nearly a decade later for a 2 season run. After this he shut down the theater again and later sold it to RFD-TV.

In September 2010 he returned to Branson for a month long series of concerts at The Welk Resort. The concerts featured a lot of politics and this, strangely enough, shocked some people who must have been living under a rock for much of 2010 and were not aware of Ray's political music videos on You Tube. The concert series wrapped up on October 23, 2010. Earlier that day he participated in a Branson Tea Party rally titled The Pre-Election Pink Slip Rally and Concert.

On November 3, 2010 the day after the mid-term elections Ray uploaded a new music video on You Tube...the seasonal "Nightmare Before Christmas" takes aim at political correctness as an over-zealous lawyer takes Santa to court and charges him with political incorrectness. As of now the video's gotten 80,850 hits.

This concludes my Ray Stevens 2010 Year in Review...I'll be back next year...unless news about Ray Stevens should break between now and January 1st.

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