December 24, 2011

Ray Stevens and Santa Claus, Part 5...

Merry Christmas Eve...

A glance at You Tube this morning shows that the "Obama Budget Plan" video has obtained a million on-line views!! The total number of views, so far, is 1,000,330. This accomplishment allows Ray Stevens to add another million video to his list:

1. Come to the U.S.A: 5,730,861

2. We The People: 4,615,758

3. Mississippi Squirrel Revival: 1,672,281

4. The Streak: 1,493,209

5. Osama Yo' Mama: 1,219,562

6. Obama Budget Plan: 1,000,330

Continuing with The 12 Rays of Christmas we have 5 additional images. In my previous blog entry I posted 3 images. There will be 4 more images I'll be posting in my next blog entry on Christmas Day.

One of the confusing things for a lot of Ray Stevens music buyers is the various compilation releases that have been put on the market. Ray has no control over the release of compilation albums...the recordings are technically owned by whichever label Ray recorded them for. Potential confusion almost always arises when referring to the Collector's Series because of the two separate releases with the same title but slightly different track list and album art. This particular release, from 1987, contains 8 tracks that Ray recorded during his RCA years (1980-1982). The confusion arises due to the fact that two years earlier, in 1985, RCA released a compilation also titled Collector's Series. The original release contains the 1981 hit "One More Last Chance" but in the 1987 re-issue that song is replaced with the 1980 novelty song, "Put It In Your Ear".

The 1987 compilation features the following songs:

1. Shriner's Convention; 1980
2. You're Never Goin' To Tampa With Me; 1980
3. Country Boy, Country Club Girl; 1982
4. Where The Sun Don't Shine; 1982
5. The Dooright Family; 1980
6. Let's Do It Right This Time; 1981
7. Why Don't We Go Somewhere and Make Love; 1982
8. Put It In Your Ear; 1980

What can I say about Hum It that I hadn't said already? This album cover is another favorite of mine...showing Ray as Whistler's Mother. The collection comes from 1997 and it features 10 songs...two of the songs would become music videos: "Virgil and the Moonshot" and "Too Drunk To Fish". This is the first and only album cover from Ray that features him dressed as a woman. Whistler's "son", Ray as a referee, is seen in the picture, too. When this CD was released a lot of people thought Ray was dressed up as Norman Bates' mother until he explained the concept of the painting, known as Whistler's Mother, and the comical idea of the mother "tired" of whistling and how she prefers humming much better. The album features a duet with J.D. Sumner on "Mama Sang Bass", a parody of the Johnny Cash hit "Daddy Sang Bass". Ray and J.D. performed the song together on television during a CD promo appearance. For his part, J.D. wore a wig. This CD features the following:

1. R.V.
2. I'll Be In Atlanta
3. Virgil and the Moonshot
4. She Loves Elvis Better Than Me
5. Sunday Morning
6. Too Drunk To Fish
7. Mama Sang Bass
8. My Neighbor
9. It Ain't Over Till It's Over
10. How Much Does It Cost To Fly To Albuquerque?

One of the most obscure studio albums from Ray Stevens is most certainly, Me. This album, from 1983, is a stand-out amongst the more dedicated fans for it represents one of the last albums where 95% of the material come from the pen of Ray Stevens...and it would be his last studio album filled entirely with non-comical songs for the next 20 plus years. In fact, the next studio album from Ray to feature only non-comical recordings wouldn't arrive until 2004 with the release of Thank You on his own label, Clyde Records. Me features 10 songs...with only one single, "My Dad", reaching the country charts. The single reached the charts in early 1984 but ironically it wasn't written by Ray. A songwriter/comic named Dale Gonyea wrote "My Dad". Those who pay attention to songwriters will recognize Gonyea as the writer of another Ray Stevens hit, "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow". There were quite a few songs from this album that Ray re-recorded this year for his Bozo's Back Again CD. I happen to think the album cover for Me is neat. On the back of the album there's a shot of a painter's work-table with accessories laying around near an unfinished portrait. I love the album and some of the songs include: "My Dad", "Game Show Love", "Love Will Beat Your Brains Out", "Mary Lou Nights", "Me", "Special Anniversary"...there's also a duet that Ray sings with his daughter, Suzie Ragsdale, "Yolanda".

When I first seen this image nearly 15 years ago while looking through on-line sites it instantly became a favorite of mine. This is the picture sleeve that accompanied "Santa Claus Is Watching You", the 1985 version that Ray recorded for MCA. The song was made into a music video and for much of the '80s and half of the '90s it was an annual staple on various music video television channels. A couple of years ago, or perhaps last Christmas, I posted this image in a smaller size and posted a picture of myself next to it. In my picture I'm wearing a Santa Claus hat and I'm also peeking around a tree. This image appeared in magazines around Christmas time, too. "Santa Claus Is Watching You" is a very funny song in my opinion...but the song's history goes back to the early '60s. Released originally as a children's novelty song in 1962 the original "Santa Claus Is Watching You" sometimes pops up on compilation releases that specialize in the Oldies format. The original is cute and entertaining but the 1985 version, with almost entirely different lyrics and emphasis, is my favorite. This 1985 version was the final song on his comedy album that year, I Have Returned. The b-side of the single is "Armchair Quarterback".

As most readers of this blog are well aware this is one of my favorite albums from Ray and the picture is worthy of inclusion in this pictorial series. One More Last Chance, from 1981, was released during the height of the Urban Cowboy era in country music. Almost everyone in country music, male and female, were wearing cowboy hats or wearing western attire. Some of the artists looked natural in the clothing while others, who shall go nameless, didn't look as natural. Some of the artists that debuted in country music during this trend had enormous hit songs but unfortunately once the trend/fad was over a lot of those artists also vanished. Some acts, like George Strait and Reba McEntire, gained their initial fame during this period but they also were a few of the lucky ones that were able to continue their successes well beyond the Urban Cowboy fad. Ray dressed up in western attire and wore a cowboy hat on and off during this period. On the back of this album cover Ray is shown wearing the cowboy hat and wearing casual clothing. This particular album is ballad heavy...features a lot of steel guitar, too, on several of the songs. One of the most inventive is his take on "Pretend", the old pop hit for Nat King Cole. The title track features a glorious blend of steel guitar and electric guitar. "Night Games", the album's closer, was a hit single for Ray late in 1980. It's a story tailor made for the times: it takes place inside a bar...providing the perfect wrap-up for an album from this period in country music.


  1. Yes, but who is the woman in the Santa Claus is Watching You video?

  2. I have no idea who she is. She might be a local actress or someone in the music industry behind the scenes.


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