December 10, 2012

Ray Stevens: Golden LP Series Extra...2009...

Welcome one and all to an Extra installment of the Golden LP Series. This time around I'll be taking a look at a certain single-only release that hit in December 2009 on the heels of an on-line music video by Ray Stevens that struck a chord with millions upon millions of people.

As someone whose on the Ray Stevens mailing list I received an e-mail alert in the late part of November 2009 with some of the details of an upcoming music video that Ray was working on. The actual music video hit the internet almost 3 years ago to the day. The upload date was December 11, 2009. The video criticized a bill that was making it's way through Congress imposing tremendous changes in America's health care system. The crux of the bill is rooted in what's referred to as single-payer health care which creates an enormous social program whereby tax payers are ultimately responsible for paying the health care benefits for practically the entire country. The song's title, "We The People", borrows the famed line in the Constitution and criticizes the health care bill as a backdoor pathway into Universal health care.

The bill and the style of health care being pushed was nicknamed ObamaCare by it's critics. The song uses this nickname heavily throughout it's criticism. The song comes from the pen of Max Barnes, a famed country music songwriter, and during it's first month of on-line availability the music video had been viewed on more than 1,000,000 computers and other digital devices combined. The view totals represent what's referred to as a unique view whereby only 1 view from each computer is tabulated just once. Multiple views from the same computer aren't counted and so, in real time, the video had probably been watched more than two million times by the end of December 2009 if you factor in that people like to watch video clips more than once.

"We The People" pretty much changed the career path of Ray Stevens overnight. An often used phrase in the entertainment world to describe sudden fame is "overnight sensation". Ray, of course, had been a recording artist since 1957 and had his share of hit songs, hit albums, hit home videos, and various awards down through the decades and so by 2009 he was certainly no "overnight sensation" but yet that's exactly how he was seen in some corners of the internet world from those who had no idea who he was up until that point in time. In essence, Ray Stevens entered the next phase of his career as an internet celebrity with a decidedly political overtone and from all indications he was just getting started. There were some critics who assumed that this song was a fluke and was made just to cash in on a topical issue...were their assumptions correct or was Ray sincere in his criticisms of the direction the Obama Administration was taking the country in? Stay tuned for the next installment of the Golden LP Series as I take a look at his next studio album.

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