February 28, 2011

Let's Discuss Ray Stevens, Part 26...

Ray Stevens called into the Daybreak USA radio program this morning and the interview with Scott West was uploaded onto You Tube...

Ray's current music video, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", also shown a strong jump in unique views as it rose from a little over 71,000 unique views Sunday morning to 78,189 unique views Monday afternoon. By the time I post this blog entry the view totals probably have gone higher! The Mp3 also shown a jump on Amazon's best-seller list, too. This hour the Mp3 had risen to #13 among best-selling comedy Mp3's.

February 27, 2011

Ray Stevens on Hee-Haw!!

Colossal, amazing, marvelous, wonderful...those are just a few of the adjectives that can be described after watching Ray Stevens perform on Hee-Haw tonight. For those who don't get RFD-TV there's a subscription-based offer and the details are at their web-site. Those who want to subscribe to an on-line version of RFD-TV can do so and according to what I read the first month after sign-up is free. It's a monthly charge to a person's credit card, of course, but with membership you'll be able to watch every program that they air. The link is down toward the bottom of this blog entry.

On tonight's Hee-Haw it was the first episode of the 1972-1973 season...and it included several additional cast-members and the debut of the Empty Arms Hotel sketch that Roy Clark would star in for the next 19 years. Misty Rowe, Marianne Gordon, and Anne Randall joined the cast beginning with this episode...and there were cameo's by Gailord Sartain and George Lindsey. Sartain wouldn't become an official member of the show until later in the year. Lindsey had been making appearances on and off throughout the latter part of 1971 and early 1972 and he, too, became an official member of the show later on. Anne Randall was only on the program during the 1972-1973 time frame.

Meanwhile...Ray Stevens performed "Turn Your Radio On"...and the burning question I asked in a previous blog was answered tonight!! The answer is yes! Yes...on the 1972 episode of Hee-Haw Ray Stevens did indeed have his beard. I would like to have a shirt like the one he wore...it looked to be one of those black silky Hawaiian shirts. Anyway...he performed "Turn Your Radio On" at the piano and then for his second performance he became much more animated and loose as he performed "Along Came Jones"...complete with falsetto babble from the character, Sweet Sue, which even brought a laugh to banjo player Bobby Thompson (who I've rarely seen smile or laugh). In this performance Ray was not at the piano, obviously, and several cast-members were seated in a circle as he merrily told the tale of Jones, Sweet Sue, and Salty Sam. Ray didn't participate in any of the comedy sketches on this particular episode and all in all it was a great appearance!! The episode re-airs Monday morning at 10am Eastern, 9am Central.

Here's that link for those interested in having RFD-TV on your computer...

RFD-TV Video-on-Demand

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 22...

Good Sunday morning all! I'd been on vacation from work this past week which explains why my blog updates appeared with much more frequency than usual. I return to work on Monday and more than likely I'll blog once or twice a day, or every other day, depending on what's going on in Ray's career at any given moment. Tonight Ray Stevens appears on a 1972 episode of Hee-Haw on the RFD-TV channel. The show airs at 8pm Eastern, 7pm Central. I'll be writing a re-cap of the episode here and over on Ray's official message board later tonight. One of the burning questions is: will Ray Stevens be clean-shaven or will he have a beard? It's difficult to predict because I've seen pictures of him from as early as 1969 with a beard...and then there were pictures taken of him in 1973 with a glorious beard that you could lose your hand in...then in 1975 he had a beard part of the time...so tonight's 1972 episode of Hee-Haw should answer that question.

The big song that Ray had out in 1972 was "Turn Your Radio On". The single had been released late in 1971 but reached it's peak in early 1972. The gospel single was just one of the several gospel-flavored recordings issued by Ray during that time period. "All My Trials", "A Mama and a Papa", and "Love Lifted Me" were released as singles, too. That same year Ray released his Turn Your Radio On album. The single reached the Top-20 on the Country chart in America and the Top-10 on Canada's Country chart. On America's Pop chart, the Hot 100, it reached the Top-70. In the United Kingdom the single reached the Top-40. On Easy-Listening radio the single reached the Top-30 in America and the Top-5 in Canada. Judging Ray Stevens based upon exclusive chart statistics for one format or another doesn't truly represent his popularity. One song may not connect with a country audience the way it may connect with a more wider pop audience. Also, a song that fails to connect with the American public may have become a big hit in Canada or Europe. This is why it's never fair to focus exclusively on the pop chart in America or the country chart in America. To get a sense of his overall popularity it's best to focus on all the weekly commercial charts that are or, were, in publication during the time the songs and albums were released.

There was a point in time when several of his singles were hitting in Canada but not connecting with people in America to the point of pushing the song into the radio-oriented Top-40. A 1963 single, "Funny Man", reached the Top-20 in Canada but on America's pop chart it ranked in the Top-90! Radio listeners in America weren't hearing that wonderful ballad from Ray Stevens but Canadian radio listeners were.

You'll never see his Canadian chart stats quoted much...but there were plenty of times where a song of his hit in Canada but didn't hit as big in America. "Unwind" reached the Top-20 in Canada and "Mr. Businessman" reached the Top-10...by comparison, in America, "Unwind" reached the Top-60 and "Mr. Businessman" reached the Top-30 on the pop chart. This same thing holds true with the various radio formats in America. Several of Ray's singles in the mid '70s hit with country audiences instead of pop audiences. One single in particular, "Love Lifted Me", didn't reach any of the American or Canadian based music charts...but it managed to obtain a Top-5 ranking in Bangkok of all places in the fall of 1972. Apparently the music buyers there appreciated Ray's aggressive, rock-oriented take on the gospel song. You won't see that chart statistic quoted much, if at all, by the numerous authors of liner notes, the biographers, and music historians of the world who either want to focus exclusively on the American pop music chart or the American country music chart.

"Love Lifted Me", as mentioned, didn't make the charts in America or Canada...and it didn't reach the United Kingdom chart, either. A particularly scathing write-up, punctuated with crass and cynical observation, appeared in a July 21, 1972 UK newspaper. Apparently, and of course I have no proof, but the critic seemed annoyed that Ray's biggest hits were happening in America and not in the United Kingdom...something the critic pointed out in his own kind of way. Either that or the critic was marginalizing Ray's popularity as an artist. In hindsight Ray made the United Kingdom charts 7 times as compared to his American chart appearances...which boasts more than 50 appearances altogether when you factor in song, album, and home video releases.

Shifting gears from 1972 and landing 39 years later, in 2011, we find that Ray Stevens' latest music video on You Tube, spoofing the TSA, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", has obtained 71,114 unique views during it's first 10 days on-line! The video was uploaded during the late afternoon on February 17th and it looks as if it'll obtain 100,000 views any day now. I often use the term "hits" when referring to "unique views" but recently I discovered that the phrases aren't interchangeable and that unique views is the proper term to use. I'm sure a lot of other people use those words interchangeably, just as I do, but for the purposes of specificity I'll use the phrase unique views from now on.

Reminder: Those who get RFD-TV, Ray Stevens will be a featured guest on tonight's 1972 episode of Hee-Haw!

February 25, 2011

Ray Stevens visits the Fox Business Network...

A lot of excitement in the world of Ray Stevens emerged rather abruptly within the last couple of hours. In addition to the TSA music video, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", obtaining more than 62,000 You Tube hits in a week's time I was fortunate to come across a tweet on Twitter posted around 2:20pm Eastern alerting people to an upcoming interview with Ray Stevens on radio station WPTF. The interview was conducted by a radio personality by the name of Bill LuMaye and it took place around 2:36pm Eastern time. Obviously the interview came as a complete surprise and I had no way of posting a blog about it ahead of time. Fear not, though! There is an audio clip of Ray's interview located at LuMaye's blog site and this is the link to the audio clip. The interview is almost 6 minutes long. It's quite an interview!!

Tonight at 8pm Eastern on the Fox Business Network the nightly show, Freedom Watch, will air. Earlier this afternoon Ray's people posted an article on his web-site alerting everyone that Ray will be making an appearance on Freedom Watch tonight. The show is hosted by Judge Andrew Napolitano and the bulk of the conversation will more than likely be about the TSA.

An archive of the February 25th episode is located here. Ray's appearance happens in the second video upload which shows a run-time of 25 minutes, 26 seconds. Ray's involvement doesn't begin until the 15:41 mark and it wraps up around the 20:00 mark. So, the appearance is a little less than 5 minutes...but it's fun hearing and seeing Ray speak his mind about things.

Ray Stevens and the TSA, Part 8...

The music video, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", gained 14,760 hits over the last couple of days to bring it's overall total to 62,137! The video's been on-line for just 1 week and has gotten more hits than the previous release, "The Nightmare Before Christmas", during the same time period. The Christmas music video had pulled in a little more than 21,000 hits during it's first week...and it needs to be mentioned that the Christmas music video was uploaded on November 3, 2010...a full month and a half before Christmas so that by the time the Christmas rush was underway the video was more than a month old and difficult to find in public listings of Christmas-related videos (unless a person knew the name of the song and did a specific search).

As many of you may know when you upload something onto You Tube or any other video hosting site it doesn't stay at the top of the search results indefinitely. Once other videos get uploaded it pushes (buries) the current videos further down the search results. If a person searches "Ray Stevens" on the You Tube site what typically comes up are the videos that have gotten the most hits or videos that have been embedded/shared more than others...what a person needs to do, obviously, is type "Ray Stevens" and next to his name type whatever music video you want to search for. Example: "Ray Stevens + The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore" will come back with a couple of search results. Ray's video is the first one listed. Now, of course, you can always by-pass this and just visit his web-site and watch the video there.

On Sunday February 27th RFD-TV will air a September 1972 episode of Hee-Haw at 8pm Eastern. I watch Hee-Haw every Sunday but this particular episode will star Ray Stevens! This episode marked the first time Ray made an appearance on the program. Arlene Harden and Dizzy Dean will be the other guests on this particular episode.

February 23, 2011

Ray Stevens...Critical Reaction, Part 6...

Yesterday afternoon a small write-up of Ray's TSA song/video, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", shown up on the newsmax web-site. The page also offers a link to the You Tube music video which I'm thrilled to say has gotten an increase of over 6,300 plays and now sits with 47,377 total hits since my previous blog earlier this morning. The write-up re-prints some of the lyrics from the song and given the positive nature of the write-up, of course, that's why I decided to mention it in this blog. I'm sure that write-up will become unavailable as the months/years go by...what often happens are on-line articles are available for all to see for a certain period of time and then the owners of the site's make the content exclusive to subscribers at some point.

If anyone ever finds themselves searching Google news archives for Ray Stevens-related stories and you come across sites that state something like "limited view only-subscribe for full view". Well, those are examples of what happens with a lot of on-line content. The reason I also like to keep track of write-up's and critical reactions is because those kinds of things illustrate mood and personality of the writer(s) and during my research I've often found that Ray's music has a polarizing affect. Long before he began associating himself in a distinctly political public image there had always been critics all too willing to put his material down and marginalize his appeal. On the other hand there was, and continues to be, an appreciation for his work by just as many supportive voices and, for them, the political direction is a welcome addition as it adds a new dimension to his career.

Although I'm a dedicated fan of Ray Stevens I never act as if I know him and I never personalize myself with him in my writings, either. I have watched a lot of his performances on TV and have heard a lot of his interviews and have read a lot of interviews he's given and those are the only things a person can legitimately go by when attempting to write about him. Some people, who get way too personal, assume negative criticisms must certainly hurt Ray's feelings. Although none of us like to see negative commentary written about Ray the fact is he's been in the music business for awhile. If negative criticisms really ate at him or caused any kind of depression or sadness there's no way he would've been able to survive in the music business as long as he has.

Thick skins and backbones are a prerequisite, it seems, in sustaining longevity based upon things I've read from those who've seen the bad side of fame and it's pitfalls but have rebounded and triumphed through sheer talent and strength. The bottom line is just because a critic or two, or three, decides to roast and skewer something Ray Stevens has said or done it doesn't mean you, the fan, should feel that the criticisms bother him in any kind of way.

Ray Stevens and the O'Reilly Factor...

The latest music video from Ray Stevens, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", was highlighted on The O'Reilly Factor a couple days ago during one of the program's signature segments. This marks the fourth time that one of Ray's music video's have gotten a mention on the #1 cable-news program in America. Previous mentions were for "God Save Arizona", "Come to the USA", and "We the People".

The highlight is 30 seconds long and it shows a snippet of the music video as you can tell from the video embed above. I had missed the segment apparently by several minutes because Monday night, when this mention occurred, I had changed channels to get an update on a college basketball game on a local channel and afterward I left the living room and came back on the computer...obviously if I had seen this segment Monday night I would've made mention of it that night. The highlight is an example of one of those kind of unexpected gifts.

Ray appeared on The O'Reilly Factor in 2010 to discuss "We the People" and politics in general. O'Reilly had, in a previous episode, highlighted Ray's web-page, causing it to go off-line due to the barrage of hits that the site undertook. When Ray appeared several weeks later he thanked O'Reilly for causing the site to crash because it shown the power of national publicity and how one mention on a TV show could cause hundreds of thousands of people to attempt to access a web-page at the same time.

Meanwhile, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore" music video has gotten over 40,000 hits as of this writing. The most recent hit total is 40,981. The song had it's biggest impact to date on Amazon early on Tuesday morning as the Mp3 download experienced a meteoric jump to #17 on Amazon's best-seller list for comedy Mp3 singles. Each hour the single was rising and rising...one hour it was #48, the next #36, and then the next hour it was #17, then the next hour #19. It leap-frogged up and down the Mp3 comedy single list throughout Tuesday afternoon and into the evening. This activity was largely due, in my opinion, to the mention of the song/video on The O'Reilly Factor.

February 22, 2011

Ray Stevens and the TSA, Part 7...

Good Tuesday morning all Ray Stevens fans! Throughout the night I was keeping track of the You Tube video hits of "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore" and the numbers kept on flying higher and higher. At one point the play total was 20,110...another time the number was up to 23,859...and just a few minutes ago the most recent play total for the video was up to 31,649!! If all of this wasn't great enough I also discovered that the Mp3 digital single of "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore" had cracked the Top-100 of Amazon's comedy single chart. 2 hours ago it was sitting at #48, 1 hour ago it had jumped to #36, and this hour it's sitting at #17! I'd been monitoring the Amazon rankings since the single became available back on February 8th, checking the product page a couple of times each day, and this was the first time it had been ranked on a Top-100 best-seller list. Coincidentally today marks the second week of commercial availability of the song which spoofs the TSA.

As the single and the music video continue to fly into the stratosphere of success it's worth mentioning that the mainstream music critics haven't really discovered the song yet. We all know the routine when it comes to a lot of the mainstream critics...prepare to see negative criticisms that label the song 'flighty', for example. Also, I can picture some of them using the expression 'I hope the song crashes and burns'.

It's scary when even I can predict how critics will react to something!!

Maybe a lot of the critics will surprise us and drop their preconceived negative idea's of who they think Ray Stevens is and listen to the song with an open mind? I don't think that will happen, either, so don't anyone out there hold their breath.

February 21, 2011

Ray Stevens...An All-Around Entertainer...

I've not posted much about this upcoming Ray Stevens concert because it's so far in advance but yet **with tickets on sale now** it's always a good idea to purchase tickets well in advance just in case there's a mad rush in the weeks leading up to the show and they become limited. Ray Stevens will do two shows at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee on October 21st. There will be a 3pm show and an 8pm show. The venue is the Country Tonite Theatre and details of all the shows can be found after clicking that link. There will be a lot of other country music legends putting on shows at the venue, too. Ray takes the stage on October 21st. I've seen Ray Stevens in concert twice and hope to see his show again if he tours around my area. I saw his concerts in 2008 and 2009...months before he began recording political music and having widespread You Tube success with his music videos. It would be great to see him in concert post-We The People fame.

This coming Sunday, for those who get the RFD-TV channel, Ray Stevens will be the featured guest on Hee-Haw. The episode originally aired in September 1972 as the first show of the season. The other guests on that episode include Arlene Harden and Dizzy Dean. I'll obviously be watching...I watch the show every Sunday night...and this time it'll be even more great with Ray making a guest appearance. 10 weeks later another episode with Ray as a guest will be airing. That episode originally aired in November 1972. According to some of the web-sites that chronicle episodes of vintage TV shows Ray will only perform "Along Came Jones" on the September 1972 episode and then "Gitarzan" on the November 1972 episode. I find it strange that the site only lists him performing 1 song per episode when the pattern is to have each guest sing 1 song per half hour. It's also strange that two 1969 songs were performed on a show that aired in 1972 unless those performances were taped in 1969 during the show's first season on CBS but weren't cleared for airing until 1972!? Perhaps his involvement with Andy Williams' NBC programs during 1969-1971 prevented Ray from appearing on a CBS program? It's a mystery that remains unsolved. Whatever the case, this Sunday I'll find out just what all Ray performed and if he participated in any of the comedy sketches.

Ray Stevens...Critical Reaction, Part 5...

One of my scans is this image of Ray Stevens. It's from my cassette copy of Collector's Series which was released in 1985. As most dedicated/hard-core fans of Ray Stevens are aware the Collector's Series features 8 songs that Ray recorded during his brief stay at RCA in the early '80s. This title resurfaced in 1987 with a slightly different appearance and a song switch. 1985's release features Ray's 1981 love ballad, "One More Last Chance", while the 1987 re-issue replaces that ballad with a comical song Ray recorded in 1980, "Put It In Your Ear". The 1987 re-issue was re-issued once again in 1992 but this time around in CD form. The 1985 original release was available on vinyl and cassette, as was the 1987 re-issue. Only the 1992 re-issue emerged in CD format. As I've touched upon in previous blog entries this collection continues to remain the only commercial release featuring exclusively RCA material outside of the original studio album releases in 1980, 1981, 1982. Whether it's a copyright issue or contractual issues...it's always been a mystery as to why in the modern era his RCA recordings have yet to receive a proper showing on CD or Mp3. I'd love to see his RCA studio albums remastered and re-issued on CD...complete with liner notes or something like that...perhaps personal reflections from Ray himself!?!

1985 track-list:
1. Shriner's Convention; 1980
2. You're Never Goin' To Tampa With Me; 1980
3. Country Boy, Country Club Girl; 1982
4. Where the Sun Don't Shine; 1982
5. The Dooright Family; 1980
6. Let's Do It Right This Time; 1981
7. One More Last Chance; 1981
8. Why Don't We Go Somewhere and Make Love; 1982

1987 track-list:
1. Shriner's Convention; 1980
2. You're Never Goin' To Tampa With Me; 1980
3. Country Boy, Country Club Girl; 1982
4. Where the Sun Don't Shine; 1982
5. The Dooright Family; 1980
6. Let's Do It Right This Time; 1981
7. Why Don't We Go Somewhere and Make Love; 1982
8. Put It In Your Ear; 1980

Meanwhile, the recent music video release from Ray Stevens about the TSA and airport security, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", has risen to 18,006 hits on You Tube. The video, as I've touched upon before, gets more hits than the numbers indicate due to the simple fact that it takes time to update play totals when video's are consistently getting played somewhere all over the world. As of now You Tube shows 18,006 as the play total for the video...and I'm sure thousands have watched it since that number was posted...so there's never going to be an exact play total because when it comes to tracking a viral music video the numbers are constantly going to be rising (much like the debt, deficit, and fuel prices).

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 21...

A classic release in the career of Ray Stevens is this collection from 1987. Sales of the album are in the millions and it was certified Platinum as a result. This image is of the vinyl album...note the illustration of bullet holes across the album as an unnamed model and Ray pose as Bonnie and Clyde on a foggy night. The cassette version lacks this illustration. The albums that MCA released on Ray Stevens throughout the mid to late 1980's all featured creative, eye-catching album designs and this one was no different. The collection features 10 songs...almost all of them from the late '60s through the mid '70s...with the exception of just two recordings: 1984's "It's Me Again, Margaret" and "Mississippi Squirrel Revival". Those two 1984 hits have gone on to become classics in Ray's career...he still performs those two songs in concert...in addition to pretty much all of the songs featured here. The album's Platinum status clearly shows that, at the time, it was the best single collection of Ray Stevens signature songs available. The version of "Ahab the Arab" found on here is the 1969 re-recording on the Monument label...but even the inclusion of the re-recording instead of the 1962 original doesn't take away from this collection's enjoyable flow from one song to the next.

This particular collection will always be a sentimental favorite simply because it was one of the very first collections of Ray Stevens songs that I was exposed to in the late 1980's. In fact, the cassette copy that I have is the very same cassette that my grandparent's bought. They'd play this cassette a lot when I'd be with them during car trips...you might say these are some of the songs I grew up hearing from Ray Stevens years before I was able to start up my own collection.

1. The Streak; 1974
2. Shriner's Convention; 1979
3. It's Me Again, Margaret; 1984
4. Turn Your Radio On; 1971
5. Misty; 1975
6. Mississippi Squirrel Revival; 1984
7. Gitarzan; 1969
8. Ahab the Arab; 1969
9. Along Came Jones; 1969
10. Everything Is Beautiful; 1970

My grandparent's also owned a copy of He Thinks He's Ray Stevens, Surely You Joust, and Crackin' Up in addition to 1987's Greatest Hits. Whenever you see me bring up the fact that I was raised on Ray Stevens music, clearly, it's not an exaggeration! The very first Ray Stevens album (cassette) that I remember my grandparent's buying specifically for me, and not them, was 1990's Lend Me Your Ears. At the time Ray was promoting the music videos of "Sittin' Up with the Dead" and "Help Me Make It Through the Night". In one of his appearances on Nashville Now he premiered the music video of "Help Me Make It Through the Night" in which Ralph Emery played the part of the pistol shooting southern colonel before and after the music video was aired. I was 15 when Ray's Comedy Video Classics hit the TV airwaves...I loved seeing the commercials airing all over TV...and I got the collection for Christmas! The following Christmas, in 1993, I got the Ray Stevens Live! home video. You Tube has the very same commercials that used to run in 1992 and 1993 for those two home videos...

1992's Comedy Video Classics...

1993's Ray Stevens Live!...

February 20, 2011

Ray Stevens and the Government, Part 4...

Welcome to the fan-created Ray Stevens appreciation blog page where it's Pro-Ray Stevens at all times! Whenever Ray has a new music video I tend to write more and more blog entries. Has anyone else noticed this, too??? The new music video, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", is something I've written about in a couple of other blog entries. Those blog entries can be found searching the archives here at the blog page. In this particular blog entry, though, I want to focus on a previous music video from Ray Stevens and a current series of State-originated protests which have been exposed as having duplicitous, underlying connections to the Federal Government via their hijacking of a local issue and making it a national topic.

Has any else noticed that blurring the lines between criminal justice and social justice seems to be the motto of the Obama Administration as a whole? The Justice Department seemingly takes on the personality of whoever the President is and since it's Obama in the White House the Justice Department reflects the same far left progressive policies that the President holds so near to his heart.

Last year the Federal Government meddled in State affairs when they introduced a lawsuit against Arizona brought about by the passage of an immigration bill in that state. In August of 2010 Ray Stevens issued a music video, "God Save Arizona", which has gotten 614,224 plays on You Tube. The song is about the Arizona lawsuit at the hands of the Federal Government...and how bizarre it is that a Federal body of Government is doing all it can to delay, derail, impede, and sabotage a State's ability to protect it's borders. I'm sure those who live in Arizona and the surrounding states who deal with illegal immigration in a far more profound way are familiar by now with this music video but for those who've never seen it or have only heard of it...but never took the initiative to watch it...here it is...

Ray Stevens and the TSA, Part 6...

There have been 12,495 You Tube plays for "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", referred to as The TSA Song. In a world where bird dogs get a free pass enjoy the latest from Ray Stevens...

The Spirit of '76 hasn't been given an official release date yet. My guess is it'll get released at some point in March and perhaps it'll be tied in with a future music video of some kind but it's anyone's guess as to what will happen. I'd definitely love to see a music video to the song that he performed at C-PAC earlier this month that I believe is either entitled "Mr. President" or "What Are Ya Gonna Do, Mr. President?".

Ray Stevens...Critical Reaction, Part 4...

In my previous blog entry, when I was writing about the latest You Tube numbers for "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", I wrote this: "The actual total is 7,661. It may obtain 10,000 plays at some point next week!". Obviously I was being modest...a check on the most recent numbers reveal 10,909 to be the play count for the music video. Given that we're approaching the 3-day period of this video's availability on You Tube and with it already well over 10,000+ hits it should be a quick climb into the 50,000 level and then the hundred thousand level.

His previous music video, the seasonal "Nightmare Before Christmas", has gotten 96,140 hits in a 3-month time period. If I recall correctly it was a slow climb to even reach 50,000 plays for that particular music video. I don't expect a lot of activity for that music video to really pick up again until, of course, Christmas season 2011. The thing that was obviously missing last time around was widespread sharing on social network and blog sites. There wasn't a timely national issue featured in the song...only a commentary on political correctness which has been debated steadily since the early '90s.

You Tube wasn't around in 1997 when the song was originally recorded and there weren't any comical music videos made at that time of any of the songs from Christmas Through a Different Window, the CD in which the song originates. So, fast-forward to 2010, and a music video is made of the 13 year old song. It's a funny music video all the same and although political correctness is a continuing nuisance in our culture it's not exactly at the forefront of everyone's minds unlike some of the other issues of the day...such as invasive screening at airports all over the country, spoofed in "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore"...or illegal immigration which is dealt with in both the serious "God Save Arizona" and the comical "Come to the USA".

I'd put "The Global Warming Song" in the same category as "Nightmare Before Christmas" in that each music video deals with a hot-button issue but in either case the issue isn't at the top of the priority list and therefore their You Tube plays suffered somewhat. The video about global warming has gotten 91,669 plays since it's debut on June 29, 2010. Should any of Obama's environmental or energy plans get passed and signed into law at some point I expect "The Global Warming Song" to get much more rigorous publicity the second time around.

Although they're not singled out in the lyrics it's the EPA who are pushing the idea of global warming...aided by several media outlets. The EPA, at it's core, is a well-intentioned agency much like the TSA...but like the TSA, the EPA becomes the face of whatever goes on in their specific field whether they're directly or indirectly involved or not. Like the TSA, the EPA was founded by a Republican Administration. It was the Nixon White House that created the EPA...but I'm quite certain that it wasn't meant to get in cahoots with media outlets in an effort to brainwash the citizens of the country into feeling guilty if we don't "go green" or if we don't go to outrageous lengths to "save the planet from destruction".

NBC, from things that I've noticed, blatantly panders to the environmentalists...the network paints their peacock logo green whenever some environmental program or event is taking place. I may be wrong but I don't think those kinds of hyperbolic worries and fears, or media involvement, were on the minds of the Nixon Administration when the EPA was in the planning stages.

Those reading this blog, if you hadn't done so already, should seek out information about climate change, global warming, or the Cap and Trade concept to fully understand the humor in "The Global Warming Song". I'm not suggesting any of you should spend hours upon hours researching those environmental and energy topics but just a glimpse into those particular issues will certainly enable you to understand/appreciate the song's humor much better than you perhaps already do.

February 19, 2011

Let's Discuss Ray Stevens, Part 25...

One of the curiosities in the recording career of Ray Stevens is a song entitled "There's a Star Spangled Banner". The song, written by Ray Stevens and Buddy Kalb, originally appeared on Ray's 1989 album, Beside Myself. In the 1989 recording Ray tells a story of a POW in the Middle East who remains optimistic that one day he'll return to America and freedom. In 1991 during the lead-up to the Gulf War and it's eventual climax "There's a Star Spangled Banner" was re-recorded with a slightly different story-line while still retaining it's overall message. This alternate version was issued as a promo single by Curb Records in 1991 and it appeared on a Greatest Hits collection that the label issued that same year. I've written about the two recordings of this song while spotlighting that 1991 collection. To date that 1991 collection from Curb Records is still the only place to find that particular recording where Ray tells about the battles that have taken place in history in which the American flag waved proud.

I assume MCA wouldn't, or couldn't, re-release the 1989 recording in 1991 and so Ray had no choice but to re-record it...enabling Curb Records the ability to issue it commercially. There's also the possibility that Ray wanted different lyrics in the the song and re-recorded it for that reason. I don't have an official explanation as to why there were two releases, one in 1989 and the other in 1991, so for now it'll remain a mystery.

On a lighter note...this morning on Fox and Friends "The Streak" was mentioned during a story about a man who broke into a Florida retirement home club-house wearing no clothes and in search of food. They even had a guest who quoted a few lyrics from the song. It was one of those unexpected moments.

In an update about Ray's current TSA song, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", the play count is approaching 8,000 hits. The actual total is 7,661. It may obtain 10,000 plays at some point next week! Ray's appearance on Dennis Miller's radio program later this week no doubt will expose the song to even more people. Hopefully there will be some high-profile appearances on any number of programs on the Fox News channel at some point, too, in addition to all the radio interviews he's doing. Lately, he's appeared on most of their opinion-driven programs and back in 2002 appeared promoting "Osama Yo' Mama".

February 18, 2011

Ray Stevens and the TSA, Part 5...

Ray's interview on KSCJ radio this morning was great, I think. The host of the show, Randy Renshaw, brought up several obscure recordings that Ray performed and this allowed Ray to talk about his early years and the kind of radio he grew up listening to.

Ray was describing a "Top-40" station where all formats were played on the same radio station and that there wasn't a specific format geared to each and every station like there is now. Ray also spoke about the upcoming Encyclopedia of Comedy Songs and made it clear that he wasn't going to be re-creating any stand-up routines [such as those performed by Jonathan Winters, Foster Brooks, Bill Cosby, etc. etc.] and that the collection would be nothing but music driven. Ray commented about 'Ray Stevens Backstage', the premium feature at his web-site, and he remarked that he and his associates stay pretty busy in the recording and, or, video studio.

The radio host asked about the change in direction from pop/country to political music and what was the feedback from the public in general. Ray remarked that he can't help it if some may not like his political direction...he commented that it's his decision and those who support it, support it...and those who don't, don't. He spoke about C-PAC and the host brought up any ideas of becoming a political commentator on news programs as a second career. Ray said he never really thought about that but the idea sounded good.

The interview on KDWN just wrapped up minutes ago and in this particular interview Heidi Harris interviewed Ray and asked about the TSA and she played a clip of "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore". As a fan of Ray Stevens, as I am, you've got to be thrilled with all the attention the song's getting. The music video's gotten even more plays...currently it's sitting at 1,894 which is an increase of over 1,500 from my blog post last evening.

At one point in the KDWN interview Ray and the host discussed the TSA's commentary about the images of the full-body scans never being made public and yet they were leaked and made their way onto the internet. Ray talks about "The Streak" and "Ahab the Arab", too. The host complimented Ray for still being in fine voice after all this time. He credits it to never having been a smoker. By the way, the host opened the segment playing a bit of "Ahab the Arab" and she closed the segment playing a clip of "The Streak".

Up next, as of now, on the Ray Stevens radio interview tour will be a February 22 radio interview on The Dennis Miller Show. The reason I say "as of now" is because additional radio interviews could pop-up prior to the twenty-second...one never knows...but for now the next one will be with Dennis Miller on February 22. Several days later there will be an XM satellite radio interview on February 25 conducted by Charlie Monk on The Roadhouse program. Satellite radio is a premium service so the content is exclusive.

February 17, 2011

Ray Stevens: The TSA music video...

What a wonderful treat Thursday turned out to be! Due to time zone issues I was unable to stay awake today and hear Ray's interview on radio station WSGI in Tennessee. The interview took place at 1pm central time which is 2pm here in the eastern time zone and given that I work nights I couldn't stay awake to catch it. If I had known ahead of time when the interview was to take place I could've gotten some sleep earlier in the day...but...when I woke up this evening I discovered that Ray had uploaded the much anticipated music video of his TSA song, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore".

The video, in my opinion, is quite hilarious. It's surely going to become another mega viral hit on You Tube. On Twitter it's been tweeted and shared and re-tweeted throughout much of the afternoon by various Tea Party and conservative bloggers in addition to Ray's core fan-base who've supported him for years. I don't know the name of the woman playing the airline passenger ahead of Ray and "Charlene". I know that Sabrina plays the role of Charlene and that Ray's longtime songwriting partner and business associate, Buddy Kalb, plays the role of the security agent. If you want to see the video on a much larger scale click the following video link and it'll take you to the video's page at You Tube. As most of you know, I don't embed videos at their original size simply because they're way too large to fit within the space provided and would mess up other features of the blog page and cause the page to load slower...therefore I re-size the videos.

On Friday morning February 18th (that's TOMORROW!) Ray will be interviewed on two radio stations. The first station, KSCJ, will have an interview at 9:30am Central time, 10:30am Eastern. The second station, KDWN, will have an interview an hour later at 8:30am Pacific, 10:30am Central, 11:30am Eastern. Those two interviews I'll definitely hear...they air earlier in the day, of course. KDWN is in Las Vegas...I'm sure Harry Reid will become a topic of conversation during the interview. The show's host is Heidi Harris. KSCJ is located in Sioux City, Iowa. Ray will be calling the Open Line program with Randy Renshaw. In both instances you can listen live from their web-site's.

KSCJ radio

KDWN radio

February 16, 2011

Ray Stevens: From Mockingbird Hill to Capitol Hill...

35 years ago, in early 1976, Barnaby Records issued it's last single on Ray Stevens in the form of "Lady of Spain" backed with "Mockingbird Hill". The songs come from his final studio album for the label, 1975's Misty. That particular album featured Ray's versions of many pop-standards: "Over the Rainbow", "Deep Purple", "Cow Cow Boogie", "Indian Love Call", and the title track, "Misty". On that same album Ray also covered the country classic "Oh, Lonesome Me" and "Young Love". The only new songs on the collection were "Sunshine", written by Ray; and Layng Martine, Jr.'s "Take Care of Business". The song's title may have been inspired by a line in an earlier Ray Stevens song, "Mr. Businessman", although "Take Care of Business" is a slow love ballad having nothing to do with corporate America.

"Mockingbird Hill", as mentioned, appeared as the B-side of Ray's take on "Lady of Spain". In Ray's arrangement, Mockingbird still comes complete with shrills, tweets, and tra-la-la's but the melody is much more R&B flavored. Patti Page recorded a pop version of the song as did Les Paul and Mary Ford. Two years after Ray recorded his version of the song it was recorded by Donna Fargo and has since been recorded by other artists. The song is basically a story about contentment as it deals with a person who's happy with their life and gets enjoyment taking in the tranquil scenery dubbed "Mockingbird Hill" for all the mockingbirds that inhabit the area. Ray's recording of it is catchy, in my opinion, and a listener is drawn more into his vocalization and the melody. If you take away Ray's inflections then what you end up with is a recording that offers nothing different from all the other recordings of the song.

From Mockingbird Hill we travel to Capitol Hill...

4,164,529 is the most recent hit count for the Ray Stevens music video, "We The People", on You Tube. The single/music video deals with the political consequences of voting in ObamaCare. Now, given that the song came along nearly a year before the 2010 midterm elections, the song has taken on a kind of prophetic symbolism. The November 2010 midterm elections saw the biggest addition of Republicans in state Governor races and local elections plus an increase in Republicans in both the Senate and the House of Representatives...largely more in the House. Although there were some Democrats re-elected the majority of political races taking place this past November were won in mostly landslide fashion by Republicans. Ray appeared at C-PAC on February 10th and performed this song. He alerted those in the audience that he recorded it late in 2009 before the 2010 midterm elections. He described the song as kind of prophetic given how the November elections turned out. The We The People CD includes several other songs that went on to become viral music video hits on You Tube: "Caribou Barbie", "Throw the Bums Out!", "Come to the USA", and "The Global Warming Song". A song and music video from 2004, "Thank You", was included on this collection as well because it fit the overall theme of the project.

To date the biggest music video success on You Tube for Ray Stevens is "Come to the USA"...this music video's gotten 4,871,555 hits. The song's about illegal immigration and it became an enormous video sensation as the Arizona-Mexico border problem became intensified nationally throughout the summer of 2010. The illegal immigration bill that was signed into law in Arizona was treated with protest from liberals and the Federal Government...inspiring Ray to make the music video, "God Save Arizona", which was not part of the We The People CD. The music video's gotten 636,762 hits at the moment. The song got some exposure in an episode of The O'Reilly Factor but the impact of the coverage, I think, was subdued because within the same segment that Ray's song was spotlighted there was exposure given to a liberal music video with sentiments directly opposite from those expressed in Ray's song. The video exposure for both songs back-to-back, each with different viewpoints, canceled each other out in my opinion.

Ray is currently expected to release a new project that'll feature his current TSA song that he's been promoting in a series of radio station interviews. Titled "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", Ray has yet to release a music video of the song. I'm continuing to watch any news that trickles out of Ray's office...but no new information's been released since my last blog entry on the 14th.

February 14, 2011

Ray Stevens and the TSA, Part 4...

Good Valentine's Day morning...I'm not a romantic so I'll jump to the main topic of today's blog entry: Ray Stevens, of course!

Ray called radio station WHO-AM this morning and did an interview with Jan Mickelson. This radio station, located in Iowa, is the #1 talk-radio station in the area. Ray was asked if he were a class-clown while in school and then the conversation turned to C-PAC. Ray commented that he enjoyed being there and was thrilled over the reception that his TSA song had gotten from the audience. The host asked about politics in general and Ray remarked that he has always held what he calls common sense beliefs but it wasn't until decades later that he realized that conservatism mirrored what he saw as common sense approaches to a lot of political and social causes. Mickelson brings up Ross Perot and plays a snippet of "Sucking Sound" and then the conversation switches to You Tube, on-line music, and conventional music buying. Today's episode should be available in the archive section of the host's web-page at some point today so you can hear the actual interview for yourselves.

About an hour before Ray called WHO radio this morning another interview, this one conducted by Christian Toto, surfaced on-line at Big Hollywood, a web-site operated by Andrew Breitbart. This particular interview featured more discussion about the TSA song he's currently promoting and the interviewer commented that a music video to that TSA song, officially called "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", will be available on You Tube soon. The interview can be found by clicking the Big Hollywood link.

February 13, 2011

Ray Stevens and the TSA, Part 3...

This looks to be the big impact week for "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", referred to as The TSA song, as Ray Stevens embarks on another series of radio interviews...this time on WHO-AM, KIOD-FM, and WSGI-AM. The CD and Mp3 single were released commercially this past Tuesday but there's not actually been much of a push surrounding the song's availability and I believe these next wave of radio interviews will mark the beginning of the heavy promotion for the song.

On February 14th Ray Stevens will call-in to the Jan Mickelson program on WHO-AM radio in Des Moines, Iowa. The program runs 2 hours and 30 minutes. The link offers information about the program as well as a listen live option. According to his web-page it appears that his episodes are archived and so Ray's call-in should become part of the archives and if that happens it'll be available for repeated listens. Mickelson's show airs from 9am-11:30pm Central (10am-12:30pm Eastern).

On February 15th Ray will call the Snoozbuster Morning Show which is heard on the Top-40 Country music station KIOD-FM in McCook, Nebraska. Their radio station, as far as I could see, doesn't offer a listen live feature and so this interview more than likely will be exclusive to those in the McCook, Nebraska listening area. Anyone who lives in that locale and are fans of Ray Stevens should try and catch the interview. The morning show airs 6am to 9am Central (7am-10am Eastern).

On February 17th Ray will call Steve Jarrell on WSGI-AM radio in Springfield, Tennessee. Their web-page offers a listen live option and Jarrell's program airs from 10am-3pm Central time (11am-4pm Eastern).

There is no information given indicating the specific times in which Ray will call those various radio shows but judging from previous radio call-in's the hosts often wait until the last half hour or last hour to feature musical guests and celebrities...but don't assume that this is the case every time. Some hosts may feature Ray at the beginning of a program or the middle of a program so it's always best to tune in the entire broadcast. I frequent Ray's message board at his official web-page and I often start topics about his latest releases and today is no different. I started this topic to chronicle "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore" and give updates about whatever I see written in the media or if ever a music video gets uploaded I post You Tube play totals every so often.

February 12, 2011

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 20...

As I write this blog Ray should be back in Nashville or on his way back to Nashville after a successful appearance in Washington, D.C. over the weekend at C-PAC. He performed three songs while there as I mentioned in a previous blog entry. I'm looking forward to whatever comes of "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore" as far as a music video is concerned. Judging from several previous releases the audio version of the song gets released first and later on a music video emerges. Ray is also suppose to continue making the rounds on radio stations giving call-in interviews. I suppose these radio interviews will pick up again once a CD collection gets released or a music video gets uploaded...


In Ray Stevens history 5 years ago, 2006, Curb Records issued two DVD releases of limited animation music videos from Ray. The collections are called Gourmet Restaurant and Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens. 10 years ago, 2001, Ray issued the single "Osama Yo' Mama" which ultimately became the name of his top-selling 2002 Curb Records CD. 15 years ago, 1996, Ray's direct-to-video movie, Get Serious, was released to retail stores for the first time and would go on to spend almost half a year on the video chart in Billboard. Curb Records issues Great Gospel Songs which is actually a re-release of his 1972 gospel album with a few additional songs added. 20 years ago, 1991, Ray opened up his theater in Branson, Missouri and helped popularize the tourism industry in that area for 3 consecutive seasons. 25 years ago, 1986, Ray won his first of 9 consecutive Music City News Comedian of the Year awards. His 1985 comedy album, I Have Returned, reached the #1 slot on Billboard's Country Albums chart in 1986.

A single released by Ray 25 years ago in 1986 spoofed a well-known television program which went by the name of The People's Court. At the time of this recording the show was an established hit and Judge Wapner had the same sort of public fame and recognition as Judge Judy would have decades later. In this song the court room programs blend together as elements of The People's Court and Divorce Court combine. One element from Divorce Court, the soft-spoken narration by Jim Peck, is spoofed in Ray's recording. As far as the defendant and plaintiff Ray portrays Arlo and his wife, Myrna Louise. The wife is accused of becoming obsessed with the likes of exercising, health food consumption, and general neglect of her duties as a wife. Arlo, who runs a convenience store, has a difficult time changing his ways which causes friction with the wife who simply wants her husband to be healthy. The Judge grills Arlo and asks if a lot of the outrageous claims from Myrna Louise is true...to which Arlo gleefully admits to. You all can probably guess who the court sides with. Toward the end of the song each of them are "interviewed" by the court reporter and Arlo offers poignant advice about future marital endeavors.


30 years ago, 1981, Ray appeared on the soap opera, Texas, and was still genuinely promoting himself as a "singer of serious songs" with the release of One More Last Chance on RCA which featured his late 1980 hit, "Night Games". 1981 was also the year Ray's voice could be heard all over the world in movie theaters as he was picked to sing the theme song of the all-star ensemble comedy movie, Cannonball Run. Ray is heard singing "Cannonball" during the opening credits and during race scenes at various spots in the movie in addition to singing the ballad, "Just for the Hell of It", during a love scene. 35 years ago, 1976, Ray signed with Warner Brothers and had a string of hit singles culminating in the late 1976 release of "In The Mood", clucked like a choir of chickens. Earlier in 1976 Ray won a Grammy in the Best Arrangement category for his 1975 recording of "Misty".

40 years ago, 1971, Ray kicked off that year having a huge hit in England about a small woman named Bridget...Ray's hilarious "Bridget the Midget (The Queen of the Blues)" hit late in 1970, actually, but it didn't have it's impact until early 1971 where it reached the Top-50 on the America Hot 100 and the runner-up slot on the U.K. music chart. Later in 1971 he began a series of gospel releases: "All My Trials" and "A Mama and a Papa". Each of these songs would reach the Adult-Contemporary Top-10 while a late 1971 release, "Turn Your Radio On", would reach the Country Top-20 and serve as the title of his 1972 gospel album. 45 years ago, 1966, Ray reached the Hot 100 with "Freddie Feelgood" but most of his activity was behind the scenes producing/arranging and or playing on sessions by other artists on the Monument label. 50 years ago, 1961, Ray reached the Top-40 for the first time with the comical "Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills".

23 years ago this month, February 1988, Ray Stevens found himself the focus of a column written by the late Paul Harvey. The column dealt with the public image and perception of religious figures in the wake of the televangelist scandals. Ray's single, "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?", had long since reached it's peak by the time this column was written but the song was still getting exposure from those discovering it month's after it's original release. Paul's column and earlier mentions of it on his radio commentaries wasn't the only non-country music exposure afforded to Ray's song, either. The song found it's way into the pages of Newsweek as well as discussion on The Tonight Show and other pop-culture forums. The song was nominated for a Grammy in 1988, too!

The song hit during the spring of 1987...specifically the first week of May...and as you can see nearly a year after it's peak in the summer of 1987 it was still a topic of conversation on into 1988. Chet Atkins and Margaret Archer wrote the song and it appeared originally on Ray's 1987 album, Crackin' Up.

February 11, 2011

Get in the Spirit with Ray Stevens...

A quick blog entry for this evening finds me making some commentary about Ray's appearance at C-PAC Thursday night. I thoroughly enjoyed the appearance and it was great seeing Ray perform with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm. Ray always has a lot of enthusiasm in his performances but because the music was political and it was a political event you could really see the magnetism in the air...at least that's how I interpreted the appearance.

Ray was having a great time at the podium delivering a few one-liners, talking about You Tube, and of course performing three songs: "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", "We the People", and a song that'll be on an upcoming CD, "Mr. President, What Are You Gonna Do?". The upcoming CD will be titled The Spirit of '76. Ray was introduced to the audience by Tucker Carlson of the Fox News Channel. Those who want to see the video of Ray's appearance can click this link. Once there, scroll down to February 10th 7:30pm and click on Ray's name.

What a lot of us are waiting on is either a music video release of the TSA song or a release of The Spirit of '76. As of now, according to his web-site, the CD will either be released by itself or be included in a Deluxe Edition re-release of We The People. The latter features 22 songs and if the Spirit of '76 is released in a Deluxe Edition of some kind that'll mean the overall project will have 33 songs! I hope the Spirit of '76 CD is released by itself but then later on combine it with We The People for a Deluxe Edition collector's item. That would be my way of marketing it.

February 9, 2011

Ray Stevens and the TSA, Part 2...

As Ray Stevens' new TSA single becomes more and more publicized I'll be writing frequent blogs about it's impact with those who have heard it. Today "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore" became available as an Mp3 digital single. Previously, on Tuesday, it was only available as a hard-copy/physical CD. For those unaware of the phrases "physical CD" or "hard-copy CD" that you'll see me use it basically means a CD that a person can literally hold in their hands. In the digital age you can't really say the phrase "the latest single" because some will automatically think something's available in Mp3 form and go searching for it whereas in this case a physical CD single and now a digital Mp3 single are available.

So far the song is hitting a positive response from those who've heard it. It's wonderful to see messages/comments from those who get the point of the song and laugh along with it. However, earlier this morning I came across a web-site where the usual contemptuous crowd gather to spew their hatred and, or, collectively look down their noses at "novelty songs". In some of their remarks it was plain to see that the point of the song went over people's heads. One comment suggested that Ray was criticizing a political party (Democrats) even though it was a Republican administration in power when the TSA came into existence. The person making that comment, and others making comments in the same style, completely misunderstood the song or flat out didn't want to understand the song.

The TSA was created in the aftermath of 9/11 for obvious reasons. The song isn't criticizing or spoofing the TSA's original intentions and it isn't criticizing the TSA for it's main function neither. The song, and I feel silly having to explain it because it's message is so crystal clear, the song is about the extreme nature of the TSA's current security policies in airports all over the country. It's amazing how a song can be so crystal clear in it's message but yet without fail there are people who don't want to hear that message or don't have the capability of hearing that message.

Within the song, well more precisely toward the end of the song, Ray singles out the faces of the national Democrat party in Washington, D.C. and those faces are: Obama, Hillary, Nancy, and Harry. Some ask why the song would include those names and, again, it's quite obvious why: When asked about the TSA's security methods each one of them publicly supported what's happening at the airports. So, when you have the leaders of the Democratic party siding with an embarrassing and invasive security policy from the TSA it wouldn't make any comical sense to single out whatever obscure Republican figures there may be who side with the TSA, too. The fact is a majority of Democrats haven't criticized the TSA and instead they come off as supporters of the embarrassing security policies whereas a majority of Republicans have criticized the TSA. That is why the faces of the Democrat party are singled-out in this recording. It shouldn't take a brain surgeon to understand any of this.

Lastly, Ray Stevens will be appearing at CPAC 2011 tomorrow evening. Ray is scheduled to do a show starting at 7:30pm in Washington, D.C.

February 8, 2011

Ray Stevens new TSA single...

Tuesday, traditionally, is the day new music gets released and today is no exception. I was originally looking for a commercial release last Tuesday but instead we get the opportunity starting today to purchase Ray Stevens new TSA single, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore". The single, issued as a physical CD, can be found at Ray's web-site store located here. I suppose there will be more publicity surrounding the single's availability as Ray does more radio interviews. According to the product description there will be a video collection released which will include a music video of this song...so far a music video hasn't been uploaded onto You Tube which is where a vast majority of people are discovering Ray's material nowadays. I'm sure an official music video will make it's way onto You Tube, though, and when it does I'll embed it in a future blog post and help spread the video around the internet. The song, for those who haven't been keeping up on Ray's latest happenings, is about the TSA's full body scanning and pat-down procedures at airports.

In the meantime Ray is scheduled to be featured on a satellite radio program on February 9th (Tomorrow!). The program is titled Crusin' with Cousin Brucie and it's a show that spotlights oldies music of the '60s. I don't know if Ray will actually be interviewed or if it's an artist spotlight kind of thing. The program starts at 5pm Eastern and the official site is located here. When a person clicks the Listen Online feature it'll direct you to the SiriusXM sign-up page because with satellite radio being a subscription service it isn't free...unless you choose the 30 day free trial option. Given that the show spotlights pop songs of the '60s I imagine that the host will talk about Ray's early songs and then slip in some information about Ray's recent material.

February 6, 2011

Ray Stevens visits more Radio Stations...

On February 4th Ray was a guest on Jim Bohannon's radio program. In this interview link which runs nearly 2 hours you'll hear the host interview an author of a book dealing with radicals, terrorists, and other activity. You all can listen to the first guest's interview or fast-forward through it. Anyway, about 40 minutes into the link is when the host begins to focus on the next guest and the purpose of this fan-created blog page, Ray Stevens. The interview lasts 1 hour starting at the 40 minute mark and so Ray's on the show for the last 20 minutes of the first hour and then the first 40 minutes of the second hour. Throughout the interview the host takes calls from listeners and there's quite a few instances where they cite their favorite Ray Stevens song or mention they enjoyed a concert of his that they attended.

That is just one of the several radio interviews that Ray has given during what he's calling a radio tour. Tomorrow, February 7, he'll be featured on a radio program hosted by Martha Zoller. The listen-live link is located here. Those who stumble onto this link days/weeks/months from now will more than likely come across an inactive page. The radio program airs from 9am to 12pm. Ray will also give an interview on a Minnesota radio station, KLTF, which also takes place on February 7th. A link at Ray's web-site opens up to the morning show which airs 7am-10am Minnesota time. I have no idea if this interview will be available on-line or not or whether it'll be archived at their station for those who won't be able to hear it as it's taking place. These previous interviews have had listener call-in's and no doubt the other radio interviews taking place on Monday February 7th will be no different.

Much of the focus in these interviews centers around Ray's career first and foremost and then as listener's call-in we get to hear their stories about how various songs from Ray have been part of their lives. In one interview a listener called in and spoke about Ray's 1968 album, Even Stevens, and Ray remarked that he recently brought "Mr. Businessman" back into his concerts and now dedicates it to Bernie Madoff.

However, the other focal point of these interviews beyond Ray's career is the song he is currently promoting about the TSA, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore". Those who have heard the song played during those radio interviews no doubt loved it...it's about a married couple's first visit to an airport and their introduction to the airport security procedures currently taking place under the mandate of the TSA. It's a catchy song and one that hits a nerve with a lot of fliers...and non-fliers alike. Those who pay attention to the news are no doubt aware of the pat-downs and full body scans that take place all in the name of security. The security procedures, seen by many as invasive and unnecessary, have even caused those non-fliers to not even attempt to fly since they have to put up with that kind of thing from the TSA.

In short, the song puts a comical twist on airport security. I've written a few blog entries about this song and I feel as if it'll be commercially available soon!! Hopefully news will come out this coming week about the song's availability.

February 4, 2011

Let's Discuss Ray Stevens, Part 24...

Ray Stevens has certainly been busy as he crisscrosses the radio dial doing telephone interviews and in a lot of cases taking phone calls from listeners. As of now he's did radio interviews with KMOX, WICH, KWEL, WDRC-AM, and on Monday as I touched upon in a previous blog entry he'll be featured on a couple of other talk programs. A lot of the radio call-in appearances take place on conservative talk radio stations which offer a platform. Modern-day music radio, by and large, attempts to stay away from politics. True, patriotic music can often be heard on country radio, but you won't hear songs that clearly align with one political party over another.

In the past, though, Top-40 pop radio didn't hesitate to play what have been called protest songs. These songs almost always had a much more liberal point of view and spoke out against conservative values and America pride...the antithesis of songs that held conservative values and displayed pride in America which were heard much more on country radio. Nowadays, though, you rarely hear songs with political overtones on music radio...and this is a big reason, I think, why Ray is doing these talk radio call-in's and by-passing music radio interviews for the most part.

Today a blogger for U.S. News and World Report, Paul Bedard, did a write-up of Ray's recent song "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore". The write-up comes across as friendly and pro-Ray Stevens and the blogger sub-titled it as the "I Hate the TSA Song".

This was picked up by others and his blog was spread around on Twitter earlier this afternoon with the unofficial song title as a reference. So far there's not been a music video release or a single release...I'm assuming something will be released soon with either a music video or Mp3 single being offered. There's a demand already underway for the song judging by the commentary from the listeners of the radio stations he's given interviews to and the comments from those who visit blogs wondering why there isn't a single or a music video available yet.

On Sunday February 13, 2011 the song "Bad Angel" will be in the running for a Grammy in the Best Country Collaboration with Vocals category. The song is performed by Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, and Jamey Johnson. The song is written by Verlon Thompson and Suzi Ragsdale. The song had previously been nominated for a CMA Award in the Vocal Event category in 2010. Suzi, for those who don't know, is the daughter of Ray Stevens and this particular recording is co-published by Ray's company.

February 3, 2011

Ray Stevens latest Radio interview...

In my first blog entry of February I come with an additional radio station link. Ray Stevens gave an interview on a Texas radio station, KWEL, on February 2. A link to the interview can be found here. Once you open this page you will need to scroll down to where it shows Ray's name prior to the date 2-2-11. A little sideways triangle in a green shaded box is located off to the right...click that and the audio clip will start to play. There's also a download option in front of the audio clip. I downloaded the audio in addition to playing it. In the interview Ray discusses the political direction of his musical career and talks about his current recordings. The host of the show asks about the reception of his political affiliations and Ray offers some commentary about it. He comments about his various appearances on the Fox News Channel and an upcoming appearance at CPAC later this month.

"Ahab the Arab" is also brought up.

Something which has become commonplace in many interviews with Ray is the topic of political correctness and the radio host asked Ray if he felt that "Ahab the Arab" would get airplay in 2011 if released today and if the song's still being played somewhere. Ray commented that since the song was originally out in 1962 he didn't think it was still being played with any degree of regularity but he defended the song, as he should, when explaining how unfair it is that some people out there attach the politically incorrect label on practically everything they have an objection to...regardless of original intent by a singer, writer, author, etc. etc. This may have been his way of saying he doesn't think the song would have a chance of widespread radio success in 2011 as it did in 1962.

However, not everyone is thin-skinned and balks at anything remotely deemed politically incorrect...the music video of the song is still getting video play on You Tube...

The 1995 music video of the song, which Ray uploaded onto You Tube in 2009, has gotten over 100,000 hits. Another upload of the video by someone else has gotten over 650,000 hits. This upload was available nearly a year before Ray's people decided to upload it, too, which accounts for why the earlier upload by a You Tube member has way more hits than the official upload from Ray. The point is the music video's been seen by over 700,000 people when you combine both hit totals on You Tube and so even nearly 50 years after the song was released it's still getting attention from those who love the song and from those who can't stand it. The host asked him to do the camel impression and while I thought it was good Ray insisted that it was too early in the morning to sufficiently mimic a camel.

Toward the end of the interview Ray talks about his most recent release, "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", about the TSA and airport security. He also commented about the encyclopedia of the greatest novelty songs he's been working on and offered a few examples of some of the songs that'll be on it.

In the meantime, this link provides information about a radio tour that Ray's currently embarking on. It started with KMOX, then it migrated to WICH, and yesterday he was heard on KWEL. He's scheduled to conduct interviews with a wide variety of other morning radio programs...two upcoming interviews according to the link above are The KTLF morning show and a syndicated Atlanta, Georgia program hosted by Martha Zoller. Each program will air/become available on February 7th. I'm sure Ray will be heard in interviews on other radio stations, too, as the year progresses.