January 29, 2013

Ray Stevens, You're Magic...a look at song publishing...

One of the things about the late '70s period in the career of Ray Stevens is just how mellow and laid back his vocalizations mostly were. Look no further than 1978's "You're Magic" from the album, Be Your Own Best Friend. In a lighter than air vocal performance, Ray delivers the correct vocal accompaniment. Obviously, after hearing the song as many times as I have, I couldn't imagine it performed any other way. The writer of the song is Layng Martine, Jr., a songwriter-singer whose supplied Ray with other songs...the most notable being Ray's 1974 Top-20 Easy-Listening hit, "Everybody Needs a Rainbow", which also hit the Country Top-40. Layng worked as a writer for Ray's publishing company for a number of years and for a period of time Ray was the producer/arranger/publisher of Layng's own recordings on Barnaby Records.

Ray's publishing company reaped the benefits of "Rub It In", a song that Layng wrote and released as a single in the early '70s. The much more widely known version, by Billy 'Crash' Craddock, hit #1. The publisher of a song typically remains the same no matter who records it and yes, before you can ask, on the single from Craddock, in the upper left hand portion of the label it reads Publisher: Ahab Music Co., Inc. (BMI). Ray recorded "Rub It In", too, but much later, in 2008! Ray was also the publisher of "Way Down", another composition from Layng, in which Elvis hit with in 1977. On the RCA single of "Way Down", on the lower left hand side of the label underneath the vocal accompaniment credits, it reads Ray Stevens Music, BMI. Sammy Kershaw singles "Cadillac Style" and "I Can't Reach Her Anymore" were also published by Ray's company. But speaking of the late '70s... 

One of the things that I happen to love about the episodes of Pop! Goes the Country that have made it to DVD is it mostly spotlights the woefully obscure late '70s period of Ray's career. The Ray Stevens music from the late '70s is worthy of more attention than it often gets. Now, picking up on what I briefly mentioned in my previous blog entry, Ray Stevens made quite a few guest appearances on Pop! Goes the Country. I've spotlighted the DVD collections that are available from Classic Country DVD and provided links. In late February/early March 2010 I wrote several blog entries about the DVDs that I ordered from the company. Search the archives located on the right hand side of the page if interested in reading my commentary at the time. Given that Ray Stevens appeared on quite a few episodes it's remained baffling, at least to me, why only 5 of his episodes have been spotlighted on a collection that has 24 volumes (as of now). I'm sure Ray isn't the only artist that isn't heavily represented but since this is a Ray Stevens fan-created blog page he's the artist I'm focusing on. I'm grateful for the episodes that have been featured on the DVDs but hopefully my commentary is seen as a hint that I'd love to see more and more of the Ray Stevens episodes surface on DVD in the near future.

I don't have any information on which artists appeared on every single episode but I'll guess and say that Ray Stevens is one of those artists that easily made at least 15 appearances over the course of the program's 7 and a half year run (September 1974- January 1982). The series was syndicated and it aired on the weekends, typically in the late afternoon, in many television markets. This program, along with Hee Haw, Nashville on the Road, and The Porter Wagoner Show, is responsible for expanding the national coverage of country music at a time when country music's exposure was confined mostly to the southern states and a few outlets in the Midwest and Texas. I'm speaking of both television coverage and radio programming. Country music radio in the '70s was relegated to a couple hundred scattered throughout those same geographical locales. Compare a couple hundred to more than a thousand country radio stations today...all over the United States...instead of in just a handful of states.


  1. In the late 60's early 70's a Houston UHF station used to show back to back county music syndicated shows on Saturday night: Wilburn Bros, Porter Waggoner, Buck Owens, Hee Haw (after CBS dumped it) and others.

    1. I grew up watching Hee Haw, pretty much. I caught the latter years when Buck was still a co-host and then the next 5 years (1986-1991) when Roy was joined by a guest co-host each week. I didn't see every single episode but I saw plenty from that era. At some point the local stations had pushed Hee Haw to Saturday afternoons to make room on Saturday evenings for the expansion of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" to 6 nights a week. In 1991 Hee Haw aired at 12 noon on Saturday and then there were times when it was airing at 3pm on Saturday depending on which CBS affiliate was airing it.

      I think a lot of viewers in this market didn't follow that scheduling move from Saturday evening to Saturday afternoon and they perhaps assumed Hee Haw went off the air at that point!? Syndicated weekend television changed once college sports and the NBA began to dominate the entire Saturday afternoon time-slot on almost all of the local channels, from 12 noon until 6pm in most cases, making it nearly impossible for syndicated non-sports programming to thrive on local network affiliates. Hee Haw had stopped production of new episodes in the fall of 1991. Those last batch of shows aired from January through May 1992 (it's 24th season).

      I never saw a complete episode of the 1992 season of Hee Haw when the set was changed from a cornfield to a city street. I've seen brief clips on You Tube from it's final season but the TV stations in my area never carried the show after 1991.

      One of the early 1990's episodes of Hee Haw that aired at that Noon time slot featured Ray Stevens as a guest. He sang "Where Do My Socks Go?".


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