August 9, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, Entry 12...

Hello once more to the fan-created blog focusing on the music and goings-on in the world of Ray Stevens. In my previous blog entry I mentioned the sale of one of Ray's DVDs, Such a Night: 50 Years of Hits and Hilarity. The sale runs until the end of this month. You can visit the product page HERE and purchase your copy. This DVD has only been available exclusively on Ray's website since 2012 and offered at the merchandise table at concerts. It's never been the object of television advertising and so the general public is probably not aware of it's existence and it's not been officially marketed for sale on Amazon even though consumers often offer copies of it for sale in the Marketplace area. The concert footage comes from performances at The Welk Theatre and Resort in Branson, Missouri.

I had been noticing the increasing number of unique views of Ray's "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me" video and it passed the 300,000 mark earlier this morning.

One of the more bizarre things in entertainment news is the recent flap over the criticism of a current song from Taylor Swift by Miley Cyrus. I read the original commentary and the point Cyrus happened to be making about double standards, ageism, and sexism. Although this isn't the place for any kind of argue and debate, especially about non-Ray Stevens subject matter, I brought it up because half of the subject matter ties into Ray's music video. The current total of unique views for that particular video are 300,222. The song/music video had been heavily promoted by Ray through appearances on a couple of radio talk shows and a couple of appearances at the Grand Ole Opry...all of it leading up to the release of his current CD, Here We Go Again! in late March.

The CD spawned the current mini-tour he's been on...his next concert appearance is scheduled for September 12th at The Andy Williams Theatre in Branson, Missouri. Tickets to this concert became available awhile back and so it may be sold-out or a near sell-out. You'll have to call 1-800-MOON-094 to find out any information. I'd posted about this concert several months ago...several times...but now it's only a calendar month away from taking place. The tickets happened to go on sale back on May 18th. Click the upcoming link and you'll be able to read much more information about the appearance via this PRESS RELEASE. It contains a local number to call in case you're in the general area.

On September 19th he'll be in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at The Alabama Theatre. You can click HERE for information. If you're like me you'll like the advertisement for his appearance...the image from the Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Volume One is being used as a publicity photo.

On September 26th Ray appears for the third time this year as a guest on the Grand Ole Opry. I can't recall any other year that Ray's made as many guest appearances at the members-only Grand Ole Opry. In addition to that third Opry guest appearance Ray had also appeared on the Opry Country Classics radio series hosted by Larry Gatlin several months ago. Ray's never been a member of the Grand Ole Opry...can't understand why he's never become a member by now...he lives in Nashville, too...but nevertheless he'll make another guest appearance next month.

In addition to the current CD and the music videos, "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me" and "You Didn't Build That", let's remember that Ray has a memoir on the market titled Ray Stevens' Nashville. The book can be purchased on several sites but I often supply a link to my Amazon review located HERE. Once there you'll see the Add to Cart button over on the right hand side of the page.

Here's a Ray Stevens 50 year time capsule in 6 lines:

1965: Mercury Records releases the novelty single "Rockin' Teenage Mummies".

1975: Barnaby Records releases the single, "Misty", and it takes home a Grammy.

1985: MCA Records album He Thinks He's Ray Stevens is certified Gold.

1995: Direct-to-Home Video movie, Get Serious!, is released.

2005: Records the novelty single "We're Having a Baby (The Natural Way)".

2015: Releases 2 comedy music videos and the CD Here We Go Again!

Of course that's just a generic time capsule and nothing incredibly detailed at all and it only covers the previous 50 years, in 10 year increments, dating back to 1965...and we all know Ray's music career dates back to 1957. I thought it rather amusing to compress 50 years into 6 can be seen as a satiric look at modern day biographers, too, because of this lack of detail and depth I purposely gave the time capsule. If I wanted to get detailed I could've pointed out activity in Ray's career in every single year from 1965 through the present but I chose not to...this blog entry is long enough as it is...but there's some other things I want to highlight and so the blog entry is going to become longer...

In the 50+ year of Ray Stevens the re-releasing of studio albums is a part of the cycle. Record companies and their subsidiaries and independent labels getting license to issue previously recorded songs is commonplace. In 1997 Ray Stevens released a comedy album for MCA titled Hum It. The album features Ray on the cover as a referee in a picture frame next to a visual parody of Whister's Mother (also Ray Stevens). Curb Records reissued the 1997 CD in 2011...accompanied by a slightly different visual appearance in cover art...

The original release, from March 1997, tickled the funny bones of most of the music critics. A lot of attention tended to be given to the cover art...some mistakenly thinking that Ray appeared as Mother Bates instead of Whistler's Mother on the cover. I believe it took place in an interview with Crook and Chase but Ray was eventually asked why he dressed up as Norman Bates' mother on the CD cover and that led him to explain the concept behind the cover art. Ray explained that the album's title is based on the idea that Whistler's Mother is tired of whistling and from now on she'll just 'hum it' instead of whistling. The Ray referee in the picture blowing a whistle right next to the "mother" suddenly made a lot of sense to those that couldn't originally understand the concept behind the cover art. Once this little bit of curiosity was solved the focus became the music. One of the highlights of the album is "Mama Sang Bass" represents a rare time in the career of Ray Stevens that he performs a duet...but not in the conventional sense. In this case J.D. Sumner, famed bass singer, appears on the recording as Mama. Ray plays the part of Daddy in a high, tenor voice. The song's story takes place in a church setting, mostly, as Ray tells about a couple that work in factories that ultimately impact their chemical structure. Mama worked in a plant that made steroids and Daddy worked in a plant that manufactured birth control pills. As time goes by Mama seems to be developing attributes conventionally applied to men. Daddy, meanwhile, sees a reversal too...each going so far as to change habits. Daddy becomes family cook and Mama finds herself needing to shave her face. Ray performed this song only once on television...J.D. Sumner himself appeared on the program and had a lot of fun playing Mama. Ray promoted a couple of other songs from the album, though, in music video format: "Virgil and the Moonshot" and "Too Drunk To Fish". This being 1997 and years before the creation of YouTube and social media as we know it the videos didn't get the kind of exposure they currently do via social media. An audience of more than 64,000 have seen the video of Virgil's adventure in outer space. On the other hand an audience of almost a million have seen "Too Drunk To Fish". The current total number of unique vies for that video are 999,983!! The video needs 17 more discoveries to reach a million. Please note that the video's uploaded by a channel called RayStevensVEVO and not the usual RayStevensMusic. However, this music video's long been available on-line and it'll be nice to see it crack the million mark...the embed closes out the blog entry.

Curb Records, as mentioned, reissued this CD in 2011. If you glance back up at the 1997 release the background color is a bit more green and this one is much darker. Also the lettering is changed. Instead of Ray's name appearing across the top of the cover it appears beneath the photo of the referee and the title appears in bigger letters underneath his name. Also the color of the lettering has changed from yellow to white. Also, the color is so dark that one can't see the chair as you can in the 1997 release. In addition to the songs I mentioned the rest of the CD features songs ranging from amusing to charming. One of the amusing is "She Loves Elvis Better Than Me"...a tale of a guy whose wife has a flirtation with the late King of Rock and Roll. The album opens up with a rollicking tale of family fun in an "R.V." that seems to create more chaos than comfort. On the charming level is "I'll Be In Atlanta". I love that song!! It's got a great arrangement/melody steeped in Dixieland and it's fun to listen to Ray incorporate imagery and characters from Gone with The Wind. Even though it's never explicitly stated that he's doing so you can't help but think of the film as he name drops the likes of Scarlett, Rhett, Melanie, Ashley, Prissy, Mammy, and the plantation house of Tara. Ray performed this song a couple of times on television appearances in the mid 1990s. Did I forget to mention I love the Dixieland arrangement??

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