September 10, 2011

Ray Stevens and 9/11...

It was nice seeing some web sites out there make mention of the Ray Stevens comedy song from 2002 skewering bin Laden titled "Osama Yo' Mama". A couple web sites you could tell begrudgingly made mention of it...almost apologetically...but yet it was nice seeing some web sites rightfully cite the importance of Ray's single during that time period. I've read commentary over the last 10 years regarding Ray's song. Some people understand the song and they also understand that performing comical songs is what the general public is most familiar with when it comes to Ray Stevens. Given this reputation it shouldn't have been no surprise that he'd come up with a song that captured the mood of many people while at the same time dressing it up in a comical delivery. Other artists put out patriotic songs and much in the same way Ray Stevens kept with his reputation the same held true for other artists, too. Charlie Daniels, for example, put out a song called "This Ain't No Rag It's a Flag". The song was right on and it was the kind of in your face commentary that Charlie is known for in a number of other songs.

Hank Williams, Jr., Toby Keith, Darryl Worley, Aaron Tippin, Clint Black, and Alan Jackson all contributed material centering on the military and a post 9/11 world in the months and years following September 11, 2001.

Some of the songs that were hot in late 2001 and into 2003 were "Have You Forgotten?", "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue", "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Flies", "American Soldier", "America Will Survive", "Iraq and Roll", and of course "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?". Clint Black's "Iraq and Roll" is pronounced "I Rock and Roll" when you hear it but it was spelled as such for obvious reasons. That song, Charlie's "This Ain't No Rag It's a Flag", and Ray's "Osama Yo' Mama" must have hit too close for comfort due to the fact that all three songs, while popular with record buyers, weren't well received on radio.

Ray's single, as a matter of fact, ranked #5 for all of 2002 based on it's sales. It was on the Country Singles sales chart for nearly a year...while the song made it to the country Top-50 (based on airplay). The Country Sales chart ranked commercial singles that were selling in walk-in stores and in on-line stores. CD single sales and digital download sales data were combined. Later on this chart was discontinued as the CD single gave way to the digital download and different weekly charts were created to cater to the digital age.

It's a perfect example of a single that's popular with the public and it's sales prove this fact but radio failed to embrace it. Charlie's single, not labeled as a "novelty song", did manage to reach the lower portion of the country airplay Top-40. This was due to the spotty acceptance it got from some of the D.J's and partially due to the publicity it got when Charlie refused to appear at a CMT gala where this song was banned from being performed (in spite of being one of the top selling singles in country music at the time!). The fact that the gala where this song was banned from being performed was the Country Freedom Concert is even more ironic. Research shows the song was recorded in October 2001 and released in early November. Clint Black's "I Raq and Roll" was issued in 2003 and reached the country Top-50 based upon airplay. It was a single-only release, too.

"Osama Yo' Mama", on the other hand, came along late in 2001 as well and was first available as a CD single with Curb releasing it under the name Osama Yo' Mama: The Single. It's b-side was "United We Stand". The b-side was originally a huge hit single in 1970 by the group Brotherhood of Man. Ray's version is outstanding...if one didn't know the details behind Ray's recording you might think it was recorded in the '70s based on it's arrangement/sound...that's how well Ray re-captured the song's mood. Each song would eventually be released again by Curb Records on the full-length CD titled Osama Yo' Mama: The Album. The CD single and the full-length CD featured the same art work and that's why the label used "The Single" and "The Album" when they issued them to record stores. The "Osama Yo' Mama" music video came along early in 2002. The full-length CD reached the Top-30 on the Country Album incredible accomplishment considering it's title track was not heard much on country radio.

The 2002 music video's been seen by more than a million people on You Tube since it's 2009 upload. The number of on-line views for the video are 1,171,304!

Enjoy the Ray Stevens video...and remember 9/11 and it's impact on the nation...

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