December 10, 2012

Ray Stevens: Golden LP Series, Part 39...

Welcome again to the Golden LP Series. Studio album 39 in the career of Ray Stevens is on the agenda this time around. All of these installments of the Golden LP Series have been wonderful to put together and this one is no different. In January 2010 the Ray Stevens music video, "We the People", and the single of the same name were riding a wave of popularity which shown the single consistently place among the Top-5 on Amazon's various best-seller lists. The music video was nearing 2,000,000 unique views by the middle of the month and just prior to that a clip of the video was shown on the Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor. This spotlight, which featured a clip of the video and alerted viewers to check out Ray's web-site for more information, caused Ray's web-site as well as his You Tube channel to crash momentarily.

National talk radio programs as well as local talk radio programs featured interviews with Ray Stevens throughout the first half of 2010 as "We the People" continued to garner hundreds of thousands of on-line views weekly. Bloggers, from both sides of the political fence, all featured Ray's music video. The theme in a lot of the blogs of that time period all seemed to follow the same line of thinking that Ray had come out of retirement to musically challenge the Obama Administration. There were other bloggers who had assumed that Ray had died years ago and so to see him all over the news programs certainly startled quite a few people. Oh yes, believe it or not, there were some out there who thought this video was from a Ray Stevens impostor because the sudden political overtone was something "the real Ray Stevens" wasn't known for.

Ray gave a boatload of radio and print interviews, as mentioned, during the first half of 2010 and one of those interviews can be found HERE. If you Google Ray's name and the song's title chances are you'll still find a lot of the various interviews and commentaries from 2010 that featured Ray's song as a centerpiece. You'll also find a lot of my earlier blog entries from that time period where I chronicle all the interviews and appearances Ray was a part of if you look in the archives.

Ray's birthday is January 24th and he had several interviews and articles that popped up all over the internet focusing on political issues that very day. The thrilling events had culminated in a mid January 2010 appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, the very program that caused his web-site to crash. Ray appeared via satellite and thanked O'Reilly for helping the site crash and for all the attention the song and video were getting as a result. It was in this interview where the two of them spoke of the bygone days where people weren't so easily offended as they seem to be today. A clip of "Ahab the Arab" was played during this point of the interview. In April an Mp3 digital album, We the People, was released. This was studio album 39 in the career of Ray Stevens. The collection featured a mixture of brand new political songs and a few patriotic recordings with a small dose of some previously recorded songs that fit the overall theme of the project. Two additional music videos emerged in the aftermath of "We the People" and those were "Caribou Barbie", a song about Sarah Palin in which the video employs a professional Palin impersonator to play the part of the former Governor and it also visually spoofs cable news personalities on liberal leaning newscasts. The follow-up music video, "Throw the Bums Out!", is a protest of Congress in general and it served as one of the rallying cries of the 2010 midterm elections that coming November. 

Max T. Barnes wrote "Throw the Bums Out!" in addition to "We the People" and "Solar Powered Song"; he co-wrote "Caribou Barbie" with Matt Cline.

In June the CD copy of We the People became available. It came with a DVD extra featuring four music video releases that had been big hits on You Tube: "We the People", "Caribou Barbie", "Throw the Bums Out!", and the military salute entitled "Thank You". It was around the time of the CD's June release that a new music video from Ray was creating quite the stir on-line. "Come to the U.S.A.", from the pen of Buddy Kalb and Matt Cline, hit right around the time the Arizona illegal immigration topic was all over the news, both locally and nationally, in the summer of 2010. The news centered around a bill that was ultimately signed into law by the state's Governor, Jan Brewer. The song had been recorded months before the Arizona illegal immigration issue had dominated national newscasts but the timing couldn't have been more wonderful. Illegal immigration isn't anything new and it isn't confined only to Arizona but that's the state reportedly having the highest crime rates and drug trafficking as a result of illegal immigration from Mexico and so Arizona gets more media focus than other border states. In this particular song Ray addresses the illegal immigration issue in his own special kind of way...and in the music video he has some fun while addressing the serious issue. The underlying theme of this project, as I took it, was having the seriousness of the topics handled with a hefty dose of humor in an attempt to get over certain points of view without being heavy handed about it. The music video repeated the same pattern as "We the People". It became a million view success story, too. Today "We the People" has more than 4.5 million views while "Come to the U.S.A." has more than 6,000,000.

Given the fact that this project contains 22 songs there was some considerable longevity and future music video releases mined from it. I call this a political music gold mine. Basically, each Ray Stevens album is a pot of gold but it's up to the consumer to dig around for all the hidden gems that do not become commercially released or widely known. Following the illegal immigration video Ray moved on to the topic of global warming. "The Global Warming Song", from the pen of Matt Cline, tells the whimsical tale of two brothers who buy a frozen wasteland cheap in the hopes that global warming will turn it into a tropical paradise. Cline plays one of the brothers in the video. In the previously recorded offerings list we have "Let's Roll" and "Stand Up", both from the 2004 limited release Thank You project and there is "Sucking Sound" from 2008. "Thank You" is a re-recording. The nostalgic "Safe at Home" is featured on here as is the brand new, "Dear Andy Griffith". Each of those songs, written by Nick Sibley, paint memories of rural America and the idealistic simpler days. Ray often performs "Safe at Home" at his concerts and he performed it during an appearance on Larry's Country Diner, which airs on the RFD-TV channel. Ray gives us some updated recordings of "Kings and Queens" and "If 10% Is Good Enough for Jesus".

There are two songs on here that I'm surprised were never made into music videos and those are "We Are the Government" and "Solar Powered Song". The former is a song about an ever-growing Government that takes over people's daily lives, a hardcore fact that a lot of voters seemed to overlook or not care about in the recent elections. It's also a comment on Congressional hypocrisy where bills become drafted and ultimately signed into law by the President and yet those very people who create and enforce laws are immune from having to follow the very laws they create. The latter is a whimsical song about solar power and it's usage in a recording studio.

As of this writing the last song to be lifted from this project and turned into a music video was "Obama Nation" in July of this year...two years after the 22 song We the People project was released. In the meantime, Ray had released studio album 40 in 2011, and for awhile he was going back and fourth between We the People and the 2011 project when it came to publicity and marketing.

Return to this blog next time as we take a look at studio album 40 in the career of Ray'll lift your spirits most definitely!!

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