If I were super-talented I'd write a song called "He's Still Ray Stevens To Us" because that's what I often feel like saying anytime I come across a blog or read a comment left on some social network site that doesn't have positive or flattering words to say about Ray or his music. Now, due to my not having the patience or the discipline to write a song with such a title I decided to use that for the name of this latest blog entry. He's still Ray Stevens to us...the fans...those who appreciate the music, the laughs, the concerts, the TV and radio appearances he's done in his career. A big reason why I say he's still Ray Stevens to us is because there's some who've made commentary over the course of the last several years suggesting that Ray's somehow changed and isn't the same anymore. I happen to feel that Ray's the same...only difference is he's more vocal about topical issues now than he ever was. Who's to say that Ray never held these same views years ago? Who's to say the Ray Stevens of 1980 didn't hold a lot of the same economic and social views he does today? The only difference, as I said, is he's more vocal about his viewpoints now than he was then.
Does that make his music no good because he's decided to incorporate a political element to his recordings now? He's still Ray Stevens to us...he's still funny, he can still sing, he still produces and arranges his own albums which obviously shows that he's still heavily involved in the making of his records whereas most of his peers (the ones who are still recording) don't get that involved. All of these things the long-time, hardcore Ray Stevens fans already know...but that can't be said for those who really aren't long-time fans but pretend they are just to either stir up trouble or to, well, stir up trouble. It exists mostly on social media sites and occasionally it bleeds over onto places like Amazon, too, where quite a few customer reviews turn much more into artist bashing than a legitimate review...and you guessed it...most of the "bashing" takes place from those who position themselves as "long-time fans". I've read plenty of comments from 'long-time Ray Stevens fans' who didn't really know much about Ray at all beyond a couple of songs. So, because of those experiences and several others through the years, I continue to doubt people's sincerity when they use the "I've been a long-time fan..." routine. In my way of thinking you can't possibly be a "long-time fan" of anybody or anything and not know quite a lot about whatever or whoever you're a fan of. It defies the entire concept of being a fan if you know very little about a singer or an actor/actress or athlete that you profess to be a "long-time fan" of.
He's Still Ray Stevens to Us...and with the release of this 22 song CD in 2010 Ray Stevens cemented his new-found reputation as a political entertainer and the numbers speak for themselves. Two of his politically themed music videos have gotten more than 3 million on-line views. "Come to the U.S.A." satirizes the illegal immigration problem in America by sarcastically welcoming illegals to the country because once they get in they'll have a great ol' time. This particular music video has it's share of critics...it's a highly emotional topic...and so far it's gotten 5,463,343 on-line views. The video hit in the summer of 2010. "We The People", on the other hand, is the video that launched Ray's journey into political entertainment. The song emerged late in 2009 followed soon after by a music video. The song's lyrics deal with opposing Obama Care. The critics tried to marginalize the song and it's video but when that wasn't working they tried to make Ray out to be some sort of "right wing kook" and when that didn't work they finally moved on. Interestingly, when "Come to the U.S.A." was issued as a video the critics tried and tried to label Ray as a right-wing zealot but that accusation fell on deaf ear's too, just as it should. "We The People" so far has gotten 4,499,002 on-line views.
He's still Ray Stevens to us!! This is his most recent release...it's the Spirit of '76. The CD contains "God Save Arizona" in which the music video has gotten 792,233 on-line views which is quite amazing when you consider the video's uniquely topical in that it deals with the Federal Government's lawsuit of Arizona over it's illegal immigration policies. So it was more about a specific court action rather than something political...even though politics is never far away when it comes to these kinds of things. In my opinion the far-left political stance of the Attorney General and Obama ignited a lot of the turmoil for their out-right refusal to respect Arizona's law and I put the blame on those two for the drama that followed. For those who yet haven't heard the song it's a serious performance...it's not funny or remotely humorous. The song gives his serious side a chance to shine for one of the few times in a music video. Illegal immigration has always been a hot topic but among the mainstream media it became a top news story throughout much of the summer and early fall in 2010 and as a result this music video and "Come to the U.S.A." musically commented on the activity.
Elsewhere on the CD there's "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore" which also deals with a topic that was hot and seemingly on everyone's minds for a period of a couple of months but then the topic suddenly vanished. By that account it's a novelty song in the truest sense of the word! The song/video spoofs the TSA's airport security procedures. The video is quite comical and it takes some jabs at some political figures along the way. The video was going along great (earlier in the year) but then, as the topic started to fade from attention, the same thing happened with the video's impact as it currently sits just below the 200,000 mark in on-line views. The exact number is 199,857. He 'bounced back' with the following video aimed at the Federal budget. The "Obama Budget Plan" has gotten more than half a million on-line views so far...it's current total is 558,490. The video's been on-line since late April and so it's not like it's brand new but it's the most recent one he's uploaded. A lot of the reason why that video got much more on-line activity than the TSA song is because the budget and the deficit is something that affects everyone in some way or another. The economic/fiscal policies of the Obama Administration impact all Americans and the "Obama Budget Plan" humorously skewers the mishandling of the economy. On the other hand not everyone's had an experience with the TSA...and for some segments of the public the humorous song wasn't connecting with them as much.
Starting with 1957's "Silver Bracelet" and going through his most recent recordings in 2011 no matter what comes and goes and no matter which music style he's singing you're bound to be entertained by Ray Stevens. No matter what a hip music critic might say or what some far left political blogger might say, deep down, He's Still Ray Stevens To Us!!