October 22, 2012
Ray Stevens: Golden LP Series, Part Ten...
Now, elsewhere on the Nashville album, we have the breath taking "Golden Age". When I first heard this song I instantly loved it...the arrangement pulls you in first and foremost...the song deals with growing older and how age plays a role in everything. The song on this album that I hinted at in the previous blog entry having heavy production values and multiple overdubbing is Ray's cover of "Never Ending Song of Love". It is almost impossible once you hear Ray's version to ever prefer how the song is often performed by other artists. It's always been a catchy uptempo song...often performed in duet fashion and sometimes solo...but nothing like how Ray covered it. What Ray did was create an urgent vocal delivery complete with wild, uncontrolled accompaniment in the background and an arrangement that complimented the wild accompaniment. I assume Ray covered the song for the specific purpose of recording it the way he did.
Ray talks directly to the listener at the start of "Fish, Eat, Sleep" telling how he obtained the song and his reasons for recording it. It's one of the few recordings where Ray starts out a recording talking directly to the listener. As his previous album did, Nashville also features an instrumental. This instrumental, titled "Float", is a bit more uptempo than it's predecessor and you'll find yourself humming along to it. In my previous blog entry I mentioned that this album contained more story songs than it's predecessor. I already mentioned "Golden Age", "Fish, Eat, Sleep", and "Love Me Longer"...another example of this can be heard on "You've Got the Music Inside" and "Undivided Attention". Irony fills the lyrics in "Nobody's Fool" in which a woman describes herself as a 'nobody' but the man doesn't buy it. One of the more typical love songs is "Piece by Piece"...which happens to be one of the numerous love ballads found on the album...and Ray sounds like he had fun recording it.
"Destroyed" is one of the unique songs on here...a cleverly written song detailing a broken relationship. It comes from the pen of Merle Kilgore. In fact, seven of the eleven songs on this album were written by other writers. The songs that Ray Stevens wrote are: "Nashville", "Golden Age", "Float", and "You've Got the Music Inside". Layng Martine supplied "Piece by Piece" and "Undivided Attention"; Delaney Bramlett was the writer of "Never Ending Song of Love"; John Pritchard, Jr. wrote "Fish, Eat, Sleep"; and Tupper Saussy wrote "Nobody's Fool". Ray rode the success of this 1973 album and it's country music flavor throughout the latter half of 1973 into 1974...straddling the fence between pop and country with the best of them. Nashville provided some strong country music exposure for Ray Stevens that had been lacking in the past. He crossed-over with some of his pop singles in 1969, 1970, and 1972...but you couldn't exactly call it a serious push for country music acceptance.
Now, just when it appeared that country music was going to be Ray's exclusive outlet with his music, from out of nowhere in the spring of 1974 he hit upon a massive streak of success and before you could say 'boogity-boogity', Ray Stevens found himself having what's turned out to be the biggest selling hit single of his career...
Be on the lookout for Part Eleven of the Golden LP Series as I discuss the bare essentials of this Ray Stevens classic, the impact it had with pop culture both pro and con, and it's undeniable success internationally.