June 26, 2011

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 25...

One of the various colorized singles that were released by record companies through the years. This single came along in 1982 on the RCA label...titled "Written Down In My Heart" he performed this on several television programs of the time period. In the early '90s The Nashville Network used to air reruns of Barbara Mandrell's television program and I remember seeing Ray perform this song on her show. The tint is bright and I imagine that when played on a record player it would look like a small sun. This song became a Top-40 country hit for Ray in 1982 and it was his last non-comical Top-40 country hit. The song comes from the Don't Laugh Now album...which also contained another chart hit, "Where the Sun Don't Shine". That particular recording was labeled a novelty song by music critics...and I guess it was...for underneath the bouncy, old-fashioned gospel sing-a-long arrangement were lyrics that were laugh out loud funny in places and amusing in others. It was definitely a contrast in styles compared to the sentimental "Written Down in My Heart". The 1982 album was co-produced with Bob Montgomery. This is one of the few albums in Ray's career in which a co-producer is on hand.

In the early years, before Ray became his own producer, obviously others were on hand to produce the recording sessions. Shelby Singleton immediately comes to mind as Ray was on the Mercury label in the early '60s. Bill Lowery had an early guiding hand in Ray's career and later, Fred Foster and Jim Molloy on Monument Records, played a part in Ray's career, too. However, since 1970, Ray produced his own recordings...but that changed in 1982 when Bob Montgomery helped out with Don't Laugh Now. In 1983 Ray returned to the Mercury label for the first time in twenty years and Jerry Kennedy was the co-producer of the Me album. Upon signing with MCA in 1984 Ray became his own producer once more and has never worked with a co-producer since 1983. I should mention that even during the times when Ray worked with a co-producer he was still the arranger on practically every song he recorded. With few exceptions Ray arranges all the songs that he records.

Ray wrote new lyrics for the song, "L'amour", which had been a huge hit for a French artist named Gilbert Becaud in his native language under a different song title. In an interview Ray gave at some point in the early '90s he was asked if he had ever written songs with anybody from other countries and he commented how he had heard what he called a lovely song while in France years ago and he loved the melody so much and one thing led to another and he ended up writing lyrics to it. Ray recorded the song and put it on his 1978 album, Be Your Own Best Friend. In the songwriter credits it lists both Ray and Gilbert as the writers...although Becaud's contribution was his existing melody.

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