September 5, 2016

Dear America by Ray Stevens...

A quick question to all of you devout fans of Ray Stevens (of which I include myself, too)...can you contain the excitement?? I can't! One more day to go and the upcoming single from Ray Stevens, "Dear America", hits the on-line music stores!! Up until now there's only been the YouTube teaser featuring a snippet of the song and some details about it's creation...but all of this changes tomorrow, September 6th, for it is on this day that the Mp3 download of "Dear America" becomes available for purchase!! Here's that image of Ray once more...
Available September 6, 2016
I'm the one that added that caption underneath the aren't going to see that personal touch anywhere else...and so if you come across this image and see the availability date posted underneath then you'll know that other people on the internet found the image right here on this fan-created blog page. As soon as I purchase "Dear America" tomorrow from Amazon's Mp3 Store I'll, of course, be listening to it several times and then make my official commentary/review of the song on this blog page and then I'll copy/paste my review over onto Amazon's page.

For those of you that hadn't seen the Behind the Scenes teaser video clip currently posted on YouTube here it is...

The single is being released through a brand new imprint, CabaRay Entertainment. This imprint/label is named after Ray's upcoming CabaRay complex...set to open in 2017...a massive entertainment complex which is going to consist of recording studios for audio, television, and video productions and a performance venue for live concerts. So it's almost like a Ray Stevens Universe all under one roof.

I'm sure there's also going to be space reserved for a gift shop, too. I live multiple states away from Tennessee so it's unlikely I'd ever be able to visit the place in person but I'd love to go there...and should the place also contain a gift shop I'd no doubt spend some time in there searching for souvenirs exclusive to the venue.

In the time machine we visit 1976...a sort of hectic year for Ray Stevens. This is the year that seen several changes...the first happened to be the change in record labels. After a lengthy and highly successful run on the Barnaby Records label (1970-1976; a label owned by Andy Williams), Ray moved to the much more mainstream Warner Brothers label following the release of the non-charting single, "Mockingbird Hill", officially the fourth single release from his 1975 Misty album (following "Misty", "Indian Love Call", and "Young Love"). Ray's interpretation of "Mockingbird Hill" is very good and the performance is catchy and memorable once you hear it. My guess is the publicity department at Barnaby Records didn't care to promote the single (given it being Ray's last for the company) and obviously the personnel at Ray's new home, Warner Brothers, weren't about to promote a song on a competing record it more or less didn't have a chance. So why release it in the first place if Barnaby knew going in that Ray was headed for a different label!? Maybe Ray as under contract for one final single release? That's a pretty common occurrence in the music business.

Unfortunately Warner Brothers, at that time, had very little impact or interest in seriously publicizing the artists on their country music roster. Country music legend Buck Owens found this out, too, once he joined the label right around the same time after a lengthy and iconic run with Capitol Records. Having said that, in Ray's case, he did enjoy some success in 1976 after moving to Warner Brothers...largely because the label's publicity department did their job promoting his music. The same couldn't be said for the next couple of years, though, as his single releases hardly gained any notice at radio. It's a shame, too, because if you have the music Ray issued during that time period on Warner Brothers (as I do) you'll be dumbfounded as to how this great music failed to click with listeners and why it's become so overlooked and under-appreciated in the decades that have passed. After the single release on Barnaby of "Mockingbird Hill", Ray issued two singles from his Just for the Record Warner Brothers debut album: "You Are So Beautiful" and "Honky Tonk Waltz". Neither single hit the Hot 100 Pop chart but they both hit the Top-40 of the Country chart...but then, during December 1976, Warner Brothers issued "In the Mood"...a single from Ray in which he chicken clucks the entire performance of the Glen Miller instrumental classic.

Issued as a single-only and released under the pseudonym The Henhouse Five Plus Too the novelty single became a hit recording in the blink of an eye. The single spent several weeks on the Hot 100 and the Country music chart early in 1977 (entering the Top-40 of both charts). In the United Kingdom the single was issued under Ray's name instead of it being issued under the chicken group pseudonym. It became a novelty hit in the United Kingdom, too, as well as in Canada. Even though the various chart placements for this hit didn't rate as high as the chart peaks of "You Are So Beautiful" and "Honky Tonk Waltz", this chicken clucking novelty became one of his best-remembered songs recorded during his Warner Brothers stay. A lot of that, obviously, has to do with the sheer bizarre nature of the recording and the fact that it had international impact, as unbelievable as that seems to those that "take their music seriously". In Ray's memoir, Ray Stevens' Nashville, he remarked that the recording has long since become rise and shine music for many low watt, rural AM radio stations.

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