May 10, 2014

Ray Stevens: Standing Beside a Silver Anniversary...

Yes, a rather odd title for this blog entry but it fits once you read on. 2014 marks the Silver Anniversary of the Ray Stevens album, Beside Myself. Originating in 1989 this studio album became Ray's final project, at the time, on MCA.

I've posted about a novelty single from the Beside Myself album, "I Saw Elvis in a U.F.O.", several times in the past but on today's blog post I'm putting the spotlight on "Marion Michael Morrison". Ray's 1989 album was written almost entirely by Ray and Buddy Kalb (along with a couple of other associate writers) except for this one individual salute, "Marion Michael Morrison". The song is a tribute to movie actor John Wayne and it's a very good one and Buddy is it's sole writer. The song honors the movie legend and name drops numerous movies and characters associated with the actor throughout. Near the end of the song Ray does his impression of John Wayne.

There have been back-to-back monthly tributes given annually to the actor in both May and June on various movie channels for the last 10-15 years (maybe longer than that). His birth happened on May 26, 1907 and his death happened on June 11, 1979. This year, actually, marks the 35th anniversary of his death and I expect several cable movie channels to spotlight his films even more so in June to mark the occasion.

In the song Ray mentions several of the Duke's movies: Rio Bravo, Stagecoach, Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, Back to Bataan, Green Berets, and others, in addition to several characters: McClintock, McQ, Rooster, Big Jake, and Hondo among others.

Oh yes, I already realize that 'Michael' isn't the actual middle name of the actor. His true birth name happened to be Marion Mitchell Morrison. If people want to dig even more deeper, his original middle name happened to be 'Robert'...legally changed to 'Mitchell' several years after his birth. The 'Michael' middle name originates from the actor himself. He stated that 'Michael' happened to be his middle name in various interviews and that he preferred to be called 'Duke' or 'John', rather than 'Marion'. I pass off all of this information as legitimate...I came across it on several fan sites of the actor and so I assume their information is accurate.

To purchase your copy of the Ray Stevens song, "Marion Michael Morrison", from the pen of Buddy Kalb, click HERE. Some of my on-line friends (fans of Ray Stevens, too) commented to me several years ago that Ray performed this song on an episode of Hee Haw. I never seen the episode but wish I had. That episode more than likely aired on an alternate weekend that I wasn't spending with my grandparent's. On the weekends that I spent with them, Hee Haw was must-see TV on Saturday nights and if I had seen that episode I most certainly would remember it.

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