May 27, 2012

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 36...

Chances are you've not heard the 1967 recording from Ray Stevens titled "Answer Me, My Love". This song was written by Fred Rauch, Carl Sigman, and Gerhard Winkler. It was available as a single-only on Monument Records from 1967 through 1996...when it was placed as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Ray's 1968 album, Even Stevens. The reissue was on the Varese Sarabande label. It was on that CD reissue where I heard that 1967 recording for the first time. I was also introduced to a couple of his earliest Monument recordings by way of that 1996 reissue. "Party People" became an instant favorite from the moment I heard it. The recording comes from 1966 and it's writer is Joe South, one of the singer-songwriters that worked with Ray and a few others in the Atlanta, Georgia area in the late '50s and early '60s.

Who were those 'few others'?

None other than Jerry Reed, Billy Joe Royal, Freddy Weller, and Tommy Roe just to name a few. This group of singer-songwriter-performers were connected through their association with Bill Lowery and they all made numerous appearances on Lowery's various radio programs. The Georgia Jubilee radio program was a frequent stop. If you look at the publishing rights for Ray's recordings from those early years (specifically the recordings made between 1957 and 1963) you'll notice Lowery Music published pretty much all of Ray's recordings from that time period. His publishing company was affiliated with BMI.

Eventually Ray would start his own publishing company, Ahab Music Company, BMI.

In 1977 and going forward the recordings that were written by Ray or written by a member of his staff would be published under the title of Ray Stevens Music, BMI. On a few occasions there are songs recorded by Ray that have multiple publisher rights if various writers from various publishing houses collaborated on the writing of a song. Ray's recording from 1993 titled "If 10 Percent is Good Enough for Jesus", for example, has three publishers: Lowery Music, BMI; Brother Bill's Music, ASCAP; and Star Drop Music, BMI. The song was written by Hal Coleman, Ken Gibbons, and Roger Searcy.

When you discover the role that a song publisher plays in the music industry you'll soon discover another aspect of Ray's career...and one that doesn't get as much notice for, perhaps, obvious reasons (it's been said that the topic of music publishing might bore a general audience.). Ray usually attends the annual BMI Country Awards in Nashville and other functions at the BMI building.

Sometimes publishing rights can be bought by other companies. I imagine this happens if the current publisher of a song wants to make some money or just wants to do something else for a living. Sony owns the publishing rights to the Lowery published songs that Ray recorded for Mercury in the early '60s. The official name is Sony ATV Songs LLC, BMI and that is why you won't see the original publisher, Lowery Music, credited.

Roy Acuff and Fred Rose once had a publishing company called Acuff-Rose. They published/owned an impressive array of songs...and one in particular is "It's Me Again, Margaret". A writer named Paul Craft wrote the song...and he recorded it first...and those who really know their Ray Stevens music will recognize Craft as the writer of another song recorded by Ray, 1976's "Honky Tonk Waltz". Craft also wrote "Dropkick Me Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life", a huge hit for Bobby Bare and recently recorded by Ray for the 9-CD Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music box set.

Ray Stevens 9-CD box set, Part 18...

Hello Ray Stevens fans!!  I noticed that my previous blog entry, Ray Stevens and the Drunk Preacher, was picked up and shared by a couple of web-sites. This was probably due to the title being eye-catching. Today's blog utilizes a familiar title...the 18th installment of my series creating awareness for Ray's 9-CD box set entitled The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. In that previous blog entry I provided a news clip featuring Ray discussing the collection and his quest to save the comedy song from extinction. Ray, for many years, has remained one of the biggest advocates for comedy music. It's gotten more and more difficult for the novelty song to find a sizable audience on what's called terrestrial radio...but those hardcore novelty song aficionados can access internet and satellite radio stations and find the material rather quickly. The only difference being that internet and satellite stations require a subscription or some sort of fee in order for a listener to hear the programming.    

Having been available since February 28th I thought it would be neat to list several of the news items from the internet that have surfaced since late February promoting this 9-CD project. Ray's gotten quite a few promo pieces about this release and I feel that more is on the way as we move into the summer months...

Vintage Vinyl News did a lengthy promo piece the day the 9-CD collection went on sale on February 28th. The article offers no author credit but it has detailed information about the collection and it provides a track-list of all 108 songs on all 9 discs. There are a couple of typo's contained in the furnished track list. The word "In" follows the title "Chantilly Lace", the letter "n" is missing on "White Lightnin'" and it reads 'Lightin' instead, and the letter "e" in the word 'come' is missing from a song title on CD 9. Those typo's are only found on the on-line track list that's been passed around since late February. Now, elsewhere in the promo, they've embedded a video clip showing Ray in the studio and discussing the Encyclopedia. I made a brief comment at this site indicating how excited I was about the collection and that I had put in my order for it on the day it was released.

In this Mention by Jan Duke from the web-site, published on March 8th 2012, the writer promotes the collection which at that time had only been available for about a week or so. She supplied a link to Ray's web-page. For whatever reason there's an apostrophe between the the last two letters in Ray's last name. I don't know if the writer wrote his last name that way or if a technical glitch automatically inserted an apostrophe between the S and N in his last name. You'll see what I mean when you click the link. I also made a comment at the site...kind of lengthy...but when it comes to Ray I couldn't help it. I also, as you'll see, defended Ray's contemporary music even though I think the comment that I took issue with was a deliberately inflammatory and I fell for it.

Also on March 8th comes this promo featured on Billboard The 615. The article was written by Chuck Dauphin and it features a picture of Ray that was taken during an appearance at a book store. This article is as lengthy as the one from Vintage Vinyl News and it features quotes from Ray about the 9-CD's. This particular article became widely distributed by a lot of blogs and other outlets throughout March and into April.

An article in Country Weekly written by Steve Morley appeared on May 9th. In the review he gives the Encyclopedia 4 stars and goes in detail about the project's mission and why Ray is so uniquely qualified to be the one that took on such a task.

In addition to those written accounts of the Encyclopedia, Ray made appearances on radio and television programs both local and national throughout February and March. He appeared on the GAC series, On the Streets, on February 21st. He was interviewed by Kix Brooks for American Country Countdown in a segment titled The Back Forty. In an episode of Larry's Country Diner taped in the fall of 2011 and first broadcast in March 2012 on RFD-TV, Ray performed several songs from the Encyclopedia and spoke at length about the project and some of the artists that he covered for the collection. At the time of the episode's taping Ray was planning on releasing the Encyclopedia around Christmas time 2011 but it's release was pushed back a couple of months. This reference wasn't edited out of the broadcast and for a few days in March 2012 the viewers of Larry's show assumed that the episode was taped this year and that they'd have to wait until this coming December before they could purchase the collection. Luckily things were straightened out and those who were confused about the release time learned the 9-CD collection was already available.

On April 10th Ray appeared on Fox and Friends on the Fox News Channel and later that evening he appeared on a program titled Fox Across America, hosted by Spencer Hughes, on Fox News Radio. That wasn't between the two Fox affiliated programs Ray was interviewed on two satellite radio programs: Freewheelin' with Meredith Ochs and Chris T. and Mark Says Hi. The two programs aired on channels 106 and 99, respectively, between the hours of 1 and 3pm Eastern.

An appearance on the Crook and Chase series happened on April 15th on RFD-TV but the segment had previously aired in February as part of the syndicated version of their show. His most recent appearances included Opry Country Classics on May 24th and an interview on Mike Huckabee's radio program on May 25th. 

May 26, 2012

Ray Stevens and the Drunk Preacher...

It's going to be a super hot Memorial Day weekend...already it's 84 outside. The high will be 92. Starting off this latest blog entry with a mini weather report is something I rarely do but it's not uncommon. I came across a video clip of Ray Stevens from a Nashville, TN television station. In the clip Ray speaks a little about the Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music and the narrator of the news piece gives some detail about the 9-CD box set. You can watch the video clip below...

When I was driving home from work this morning I saw a sign in the yard of a church that stated Vacation Bible School and it gave the dates. This immediately had me thinking of the hilarious Ray Stevens song from 1985 titled "Vacation Bible School"...among other things the song is about bible camp. Ray tells the story of a preacher who becomes intoxicated while sermonizing. As a consequence of being drunk, the preacher launches into a one-man comedy show and we're told that he delivered some pretty rough language for the people gathered in the church. In the song the bible school is in Tallapoosa, Georgia.

The song is from his #1 Country album, I Have Returned, which was certified Gold by the RIAA. 

There are many people who discovered Ray through You Tube...embedding his music videos and sharing them on social sites. A lot of people who never heard of Ray before 2009 had obviously no idea of his legend. 2009, for example, was the 40th anniversary of "Gitarzan", a million selling Top-10 pop hit for Ray in 1969. Those who found Ray Stevens through You Tube have hopefully explored his varied catalog of songs. His music dates back to 1957...he's currently in his 55th year as a recording artist.

You can find his music on eBay, Amazon, and at his web-site store. The music he recorded in the late '50s is his most obscure but it can be purchased if you look hard enough.

Ray Stevens recorded a lot of songs during the late '50s that weren't heavily promoted. He recorded for the following labels during the late '50s: Prep, Capitol, and NRC. He was with NRC in 1960, the year he released "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon", a novelty song that gained a lot of attention for the wrong reasons: the owners of the character threatened a lawsuit if the song wasn't pulled off the market! Ray didn't get their permission to use the character in his song.

After NRC, Ray would join the Mercury label in 1961 and it is with this label that Ray Stevens found national fame at last. The taste of national fame started with "Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills" which reached the pop Top-40 in 1961. "Ahab the Arab" hit in 1962 and this is the song that made Ray Stevens an 'overnight superstar'. Once this song hit, everyone who listened to Top-40 radio suddenly knew who Ray Stevens was...the song sold more than a million copies and reached the pop Top-5 and the R&B Top-10 in 1962.

Ray had a few more Top-40 pop and R&B hits through 1963 with Mercury Records and couple that charted on the Hot 100 but below the #40 slot. One of the recordings that Ray participated in was "Speedy Gonzales". The hit recording from 1962 was by Pat Boone and Mel Blanc. The cartoon character, Speedy Gonzales, was voiced by Mel Blanc in numerous Warner Brothers cartoons and so he played the character in the song, too. A singer named Tom Walls recorded a version of the song, also in 1962. Instead of Mel Blanc reprising his role as Speedy, we have the one and only Ray Stevens stepping into the Gonzales role.  You can't find the song in it's single's way too hard to find...but you can hear it on You Tube. The recording was made for a company known as HIT Records. I was not familiar with this recording prior to finding it on You Tube at some point last year.

There is a channel on You Tube that specializes in uploading rare/obscure singles from the '60s from smaller record labels. I've embedded video clips from their channel numerous times in the past and have commented on their Ray Stevens-related uploads. Thanks to them I was able to hear songs that Ray Stevens was involved in that I otherwise either would never have known about or would never have heard because of how rare and unavailable those songs happen to be. Ray did numerous sessions in the '60s for a lot of artists...both on small labels and major labels. He arranged and wrote a lot of songs for groups who typically had an R&B flair. Ray either arranged, produced, co-produced, or played on hundreds of recording sessions in the '60s. It was neat to hear a lot of those recordings...and hear that Ray Stevens imprint all over the songs.

Ray joined with Monument Records as a session artist, arranger, producer, and songwriter in 1963...and would release his own recordings for the label in 1966. He used a lot of the sounds in these single-only '60s recordings that he first used on other artists in the early '60s. If you own or have heard any of Ray's singles from that mid '60s period or own his 1968 album, Even Stevens, then you'll instantly know what I mean when I bring up that 'sound' that can be heard on a string of recordings by Ray or associated with Ray.

After Monument, Ray went over to the Barnaby label in 1970. He remained with this label through early 1976. He then signed with Warner Brothers records...a brief 3 year stay (1976-1979)...but such wonderful recordings were made in spite of the short run with the label. This was followed by a 4 year association with RCA (1979-1983). A super brief return to Mercury Records followed (1983-1984) and later in 1984 he joined MCA for a commercially successful 5 year stay (1984-1989) that saw him selling roughly 3,000,000 comedy albums by 1990. Curb Records kicked off the '90s as Ray's next label. Their first project on him, His All-Time Greatest Comic Hits, would become a certified Gold album by the RIAA. He recorded three albums for them while they released 4 compilation projects of his material through 1996. Those compilations were the previously mentioned His All-Time Greatest Comic Hits in 1990, a Greatest Hits release in 1991 that featured a majority of ballads rather than comedy, a CD-only release titled 20 Comedy Hits in 1995, and Great Gospel Songs in 1996.

He was with Curb until early-mid 1996...and then he signed with MCA for a second time and the first project that MCA released on Ray in the late winter of '96 was the retail distribution of his 1995 mail-order home video, Get Serious!. Two albums for the label surfaced in 1997: Hum It and Christmas Through a Different Window. Ray was then on his own label, Clyde, from 1998 through 2001. Curb Records distributed some more releases for Ray in the early 2000's...notably the Osama Yo' Mama single and album in 2001 and 2002 respectively; the 2005 CD single "The New Battle of New Orleans" was released through Curb, and some animated music video DVD's in 2006 were distributed by Curb Records also. Other than those specific releases in the 2000's by Curb Records, Ray's released all of his latter-day music through his own label, Clyde Records.

For those new to the career of Ray Stevens take a look back at his accomplishments and marvel at the varied music styles he incorporated into his career. For those new to his career also take a minute or two to listen to those recordings. There's 55 years worth of music to dive into! For those new to his career familiarize yourself with everything there is to know about him...this blog examines all era's of his career and it's a good place to start. His own web-site offers a lot of music and video products. All of the music videos on You Tube are also featured at his web-site in a section called Ray TV.

Now, for those new to his career...after looking up all the great Ray Stevens music you've missed don't forget to pick up where you left off and champion his contemporary recordings and enjoy those entertaining You Tube music videos.

May 25, 2012

Ray Stevens and the Huckabee Radio interview...

Good Friday afternoon...I just finished making notes concerning the Ray Stevens interview that took place about 10 minutes ago on Mike Huckabee's radio program. The interview was great as I had hoped it would be. Even more great is that Ray was it wasn't a phone connection. I'm assuming Ray was in the studio with certainly sounded like he was. Mike began the segment promoting the Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music and he praised Ray's career and pointed out the various aspects of his career that the public at large may be unaware of. Ray spoke about the novelty song in general and how he's on a mission to save it from the endangered species list.

Mike plays a snippet of "The Streak" and this leads into a discussion about streaking and the story on how the song came into existence. Afterward, political incorrectness is brought up and this leads into a conversation about "Ahab the Arab" and the way it's perceived by those with a politically-correct mindset. Ray told the history of the song and mentioned that a certain political party twists things around when it comes to the song. Moving away from the perceptions of "Ahab the Arab" by a segment of the population, the two discuss politics...and Mike plays a snippet of "We the People".

Mike refers to Ray as being bold and unapologetic when it comes to the political messages featured in his recent recordings.

It was in this portion of the interview where Ray spoke about the double-standard that exists in the media when it comes to their reporting on liberal and conservative entertainers. Mike mentions how unique it is that Ray's able to convey such strong political messages using a comical overtone. Ray mentions Dick Morris, who was on the segment prior to Ray's interview, and how the news that Morris had spoke about concerning the Law of the Sea Treaty is one of his biggest worries.

Mike thanked Ray for being on the show and closed it with more words of praise for Ray's many talents in the recording studio and he closed the segment with a snippet of "Everything Is Beautiful".

For those who want to read up on the Law of the Sea Treaty, Google the following: Law of the Sea Treaty. You'll find all that you need to know.

Check out Ray's We The People and Spirit of '76 collections and the Let's Get Political book at Ray's web-site. All three items are offered in the Tea Party Special but you can get each separately, too. When you visit his site wait for the banners to load up to see the advertisements for the Tea Party Special as well as the 9-CD Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music.

May 24, 2012

Ray Stevens 9 CD box set, Part 17...

Good Thursday morning!!! Well, it's almost Memorial Day weekend...I don't have a 3-day weekend where I work but nevertheless it's still a 3-day weekend for millions of people.

Ray Stevens will give an interview this Friday on Mike Huckabee's radio program. The segment is scheduled to air 2:30pm Eastern tomorrow afternoon. Most AM stations have a bottom of the hour news break and so it'll probably get underway around 2:35pm but don't take my word for it...check the internet for radio station affiliates that carry his program and if you happen to be in the area simply tune your car or truck radio to the station and of course if you're near a computer tomorrow you can probably listen on-line to one of the various radio station affiliates.

Here's a detailed report about the upcoming interview. Huckabee's radio program airs on 200 radio stations and I assume at some point, for those who can't hear it live, there will be an archive podcast or something along those lines for those who'll miss the interview!?! The interview will be about The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music, which is currently in it's third month of availability (this coming May 28th will mark 3 months exactly).

There are no details on how long the interview will last but the media story that I linked to has the vital information. The details originated from the company that handles Ray's publicity, called Absolute Publicity. Their article was picked up by other web-sites and the link I provided comes from a site called Nashville Country Club.

Here is the Pacific, Central and Eastern time-zones to eliminate any confusion out there...

9am-12pm Pacific

11am-2pm Central

12pm-3pm Eastern

KSFO radio is in the Pacific time zone in Sacramento, California. You can listen to Huckabee's radio program via the following KSFO link.

May 21, 2012

Rita's Letter and Ray Stevens...

Those people out there who are going through a break-up need to look no further than this perfect song by Ray Stevens to address the situation. Recorded in 1982, "Where the Sun Don't Shine" is an up-tempo sing-a-long detailing the specifics of a break-up and the advice that the man gives to the woman. The arrangement, as mentioned, is up-tempo and it masks the anger and contempt going on between the two people. I've only seen Ray perform this song a couple of my earlier blogs I mentioned that it was on an episode of Country Standard Time, which aired on The Nashville Network during the early '90s. The program specialized in airing performance clips of country artists from the '50s through the '80s with heavy emphasis on the performances from the '70s when country music television programs were populating the syndicated television market. The performance clip that aired of Ray Stevens was first broadcast on an episode of a program called That Nashville Music! which had a lengthy 15 year syndicated run. In the performance you can see the television program's title in the background. Coincidentally, the project called Collector's Series from RCA had recently become part of my Ray Stevens collection...and on that 8-song collection is "Where The Sun Don't Shine"...and so it was ironic to hear a song on a cassette tape and then a year or so later see a 1982 clip of Ray performing that very song. It's funny that I can remember seeing him perform the song on a program that aired on The Nashville Network in the early '90s but I couldn't tell you what he was wearing, if there were any close-ups, or anything like that. He was playing the of the most prominent instruments in the recording...that I do remember! If you've never heard the for it on any number of on-line auction sites. It's often available as a single like the one you see above and it was included, as mentioned earlier, on the Collector's Series project, but for those truly dedicated to Ray's music you can search for his 1982 studio album, Don't Laugh Now, which features the song. 
Don't know what those projects look like? No problem...
This is the back cover of Don't Laugh Now. The front of the cover shows a similar image with Ray holding a smiling mask but he's wearing a frown. As far as Ray's music on RCA goes it's really, really hard to find and unless you have the studio albums on vinyl (or even cassette!) or if you have the Collector's Series project then chances are you won't become familiar with this period of his career for the simple fact that it's never been kept in print for any long period of time. The Collector's Series project had three releases: 1985, 1987, and 1992. The 1985 original was issued on vinyl and cassette. I have the cassette version as you see in the image. The title was re-issued in 1987 with a slightly modified design...gone was the close-up picture of Ray and the black background and in it's place was a slightly different picture of the actual vinyl album, with Ray's face still showing prominence, and the design featured light blue rather than solid black in the background. In the 1985 release it featured the 1981 love ballad, "One More Last Chance", which Ray took to the Country Top-40 that year. In the 1987 re-issue, that ballad is removed and a 1980 novelty, "Put It In Your Ear", appears instead. It's been said that Ray's reputation as a comic caused the label to remove the love ballad in favor of a comedy song. In 1992 the title was released for a third time but exclusively on CD and it kept the track list that appeared on the 1987 re-issue. There were only 8 songs on the Collector's Series which, of course, is way too limited. Since the CD's release in 1992 there really hasn't been any project to come along in the last 20 years to respectfully showcase Ray's RCA recordings and as I said earlier you'd need to own the vinyl albums as I do if you truly want to hear a lot of songs that you're missing out on. 
Here's a look at the 1987 re-release. The track list appeared below the name of the album but in order to get a more detailed image I cropped out the track list and just focused on the imagery and titles.

The songs on this project are great...but as mentioned there are only 8 recordings altogether. Ray recorded 3 studio albums for RCA for a total of 29 songs. I'm sure he recorded more songs for them that never made it to any album. There were 9 songs on his 1980 album, 10 songs on his 1981 album, and 10 songs on his 1982 album. I'm sure that the major reason why the RCA songs of Ray Stevens hadn't been kept in print and available is due to the brief stay...but don't let that 2 year period fool you. He remained as active as ever...and was a frequent television performer on a variety of programs. He even lent his voice to the big screen when he performed the theme song to the hugely successful Burt Reynolds film, Cannonball Run. In addition to the theme song he could be heard singing the love ballad "Just For the Hell of It" during a romantic scene. Obviously, though, as many fans are well aware, the biggest recording he did for RCA was his debut single for them titled "Shriner's Convention". The single hit early in 1980 but Ray had been performing the song prior to it's official release. A 1979 movie which featured a cameo appearance from Ray titled Concrete Cowboys shows him performing this song at a night-club that the two stars of the movie, Jerry Reed and Tom Selleck, visit. Barbara Mandrell, among other artists, have cameo appearances, too. Ray and Barbara have a scene together and a screen-cap from their appearance can be seen on-line. In another 1979 appearance, this time on the television series Pop! Goes the Country, Ray performs the song for what could be the first time on television. He would later perform the song on an episode of Hee-Haw from 1980 and then stage an elaborate performance, complete with motorcycle, at the fan-voted Music City News Awards program in June of 1980. One of his last performances of the song, on a television program that is, came in 1995 when he was promoting his direct-to-home video movie, Get Serious! He performed it on an episode of Music City Tonight on The Nashville Network which was hosted by Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase. The performance included George Lindsey.
The Shriner's Convention album reached the Top-5 on the Country Album chart and the single reached the Country Top-10. When Ray opened up his Branson, Missouri theater in 1991 he'd incorporate the motorcycle into his performance of the song. You can see this on the 1993 home video, Ray Stevens Live!, and you can also get a glimpse of the motorcycle in the 1995 music video of the song, available on You Tube. 
No other release from Ray during his RCA period would match or top the massive popularity of "Shriner's Convention" but don't let that stop you from seeking out his 1981 and 1982 albums. One of the songs from the 1980 album was titled "Rita's Letter". It's an offbeat little story about a man who sends a letter to a former wife (her second husband) and tells her all about his new directions and how he's discovered the true meanings of life, etc. etc. In the letter he suggests that they should reunite since he'd be back in town. He eventually shows up at her front door...and she reacts as any typical woman would upon seeing the man who dumped her for selfish reasons. 
When I first heard the song I thought of the episode of Three's Company when Chrissy wants to run off and join a commune and is easily manipulated out of her money by a sleazy Guru.

May 19, 2012

Ray Stevens and Arabian Gold...

Howdy Ray Stevens fans! We're coming up on the official Golden Anniversary of "Ahab the Arab" and it's debut on the pop charts. It hit during the last week of June in 1962. I started off 2012 by doing a blog about "Ahab the Arab" and it's impact on Ray's career and his business companies. For those who want to read it you can click the blog entry title here: Ray Stevens and Ahab, a Golden Anniversary. I covered a lot of ground in the blog and so that's why I provided the link...I don't want to re-hash everything but I'll say a few things about the song nonetheless. The single became a Gold record and a Top-5 pop hit in America during the summer of '62. Unlike so many other blogs, though, I do not belittle or show contempt for the recording. It's a very humorous song and a career making hit for Ray Stevens. Political correctness and other pressure groups through the decades have routinely griped and complained about this song...decades of repeated accusations that it's racist or ethnically offensive have become accepted as 100% fact in spite of the songwriter's intentions. That songwriter, of course, is Ray Stevens, who shouldn't have to explain the song's inspiration anymore...especially not to those who've done everything they can to twist the song's true origins into something other than what Ray envisioned when he wrote it. "Ahab the Arab" was covered by a couple of other artists...and Ray himself has re-recorded the song a few times. The complete version ran longer than a typical pop Mercury trimmed the song to fit a more radio friendly length. The missing verse was included in the 1995 music video that Ray filmed. I imagine that a few of the fans who weren't aware of the complete version of the song assumed that Ray added that extra verse just for the music video.

I first heard the complete version of the song in the early '90s when my grandparent's bought me a cassette of Ray's titled Funny Man that Mercury Records had released in 1989. That cassette also has "Just One of Life's Little Tragedies" and "The Deodorant Song"...a couple of songs that I refer to as two major discoveries for this Ray Stevens fan as I was just starting to build my Ray Stevens music collection. Why do I call them major discoveries? Well, it's because those two songs were brand new to me, even though they had originally been recorded in the early ' that time 30 years ago. The other songs on that 1989 collection I had already heard on Mercury's 1970 release, The Best of Ray Stevens. I first heard "Ahab the Arab" on the 1987 Greatest Hits album from MCA Records...but that, as I later found out, was the 1969 re-recording from the Gitarzan album. The liner notes made no mention of it being a re-recording so when I was really young I genuinely thought the 1969 recording was from 1962. The reason is because the author mentions 1962 as the year the song was released...but didn't mention that the recording on the collection came from 1969. A lot of liner note authors don't go into such detail so it's not like I'm singling it out on just happened that those liner notes accompanied the album that introduced me to "Ahab the Arab" (and seven other songs recorded by Ray Stevens!) for the first time. You can read more about the song in the link I provided near the top of this blog entry.

May 16, 2012

Ray Stevens and the Duckafone...

Welcome to Wednesday...the many Ray Stevens fans out there will certainly get a huge laugh out of this particular video about a Duckafone. Ray and company uploaded it yesterday and so it's not been on-line quite yet a full day and it's gotten close to 1,000 views so far.

The video is a parody of a certain type of television commercial that used to air frequently on a multitude of cable channels...featuring singers performing snippets of songs on-camera from an accompanying album being advertised. Often these albums were released through Heartland Music and were, perhaps by design, compilation albums...usually released on artists and groups that were over the age of 40 who still had popularity with music consumers but weren't dominating the radio airwaves as before. Cynics might refer to the television albums that Heartland Music distributed as nothing more than "glorified compilation packages" but a whole lot of artists and groups from all styles of music found themselves on-camera participating in those commercials.

Ray did a TV commercial for his 1987 project, Get The Best of Ray Stevens, and would later revolutionize the home video industry in the 1990's with his home video television commercials.  Ray's commercials, though, were fast-paced and featured quick snippets of music video content or live performance content depending on which home video was being advertised and so they were a little bit different than a typical Heartland Music production.

The following video clip, however, parodies the Heartland Music album commercials...and as I said you're going to get a huge laugh out of this when you watch it...especially those who remember these kind of commercials and how frequently they'd air. 

May 14, 2012

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 35...

The month of May will always cause celebration among fans of Ray Stevens due to the fact that it was during the month of May, in 1970 and again in 1974, that Ray Stevens reached #1 on the pop chart. Ray hit the top during the last week of May in 1970 with "Everything Is Beautiful". During the middle part of May 1974 he hit #1 with "The Streak". Each song spent multiple weeks at #1...and both sold millions of copies...and both songs have become permanent fixtures at his concerts to this day.

In the case of "Everything Is Beautiful", the song would reach #1 a little more than a month after it's release and would stay at #1 on the Hot 100 for 2 weeks. The song hit #1 on the Adult-Contemporary chart for 3 weeks in late May 1970. It was #1 in Canada and Australia while reaching the Top-10 on the United Kingdom music survey and the Top-5 in Ireland. The single sold more than 3,000,000 copies internationally and was used as the theme song on Ray's summer TV show. Ray had been a frequent guest on the Andy Williams Show since 1969...and when Williams went on vacation in the summer months of 1970 the producers picked Ray to fill-in. The program was officially called Andy Williams Presents Ray Stevens???. There's an article in a 1970 issue of TV Guide that explains the story behind the question marks. The issue often comes up for sale on eBay which is how I ended up with a copy. Bill Bixby and Brandon Cruz from The Courtship of Eddie's Father are on the cover. Search the internet for Ray Stevens + TV Guide and you're bound to come across it. Ray won a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in early 1971. Jake Hess, meanwhile, had recorded a version of the song and he won a Grammy for Best Sacred Performance in 1971. Hess had even released an album titled Everything Is Beautiful in 1970, just as Ray had done. Here's more trivia...on the back of the Hess Album it credits John Ragsdale as the album's music arranger. Ray's brother is John Ragsdale, by the way, and so I'm assuming it's the same guy...if it isn't then it's incredibly coincidental.

"The Streak", on the other hand, literally streaked up the Hot 100 chart. It was at #1 in it's 4th chart week...spending 3 weeks at #1 as a result of that incredible rise to the top. The single was an international hit, too, reaching #1 and the Top-5 on several overseas music surveys. Reportedly "Everything Is Beautiful" sold about 3,000,000 copies internationally while "The Streak" sold in the neighborhood of 5,000,000. "The Streak" became the best-selling novelty single of the entire decade and in a year-end survey it was one of the Top-10 songs of 1974. Not too bad for a single that was supposed to only cash-in on the streaking fad and then disappear from the public's collective memory forever.

The single did disappear from the radio airwaves quicker than most popular songs due to it's connection to a fad that increasingly caused embarrassment for those who actually took part in it. The song is so tied to pop culture in 1974 that I defy anyone to write an essay on the music of 1974 and not mention "The Streak" at some point. To omit the song's popularity would be like revisionist history in overload. Still, streaking occasionally pops up here and there even today but it's not dealt with as some sort of silly novelty/prank by society as it was in a streaker will more than likely be shamed and publicly humiliated by reporters and others in the media for doing such a thing. This is why, I think, more and more of the younger people who come across "The Streak" at some point in their lives will find it hard to believe that someone would put out a song that seemingly celebrated, rather than shown contempt for, the act of streaking. In the meantime, smile and sing "The Streak" as you go about your day.

May 13, 2012

Ray Stevens and Television...

In an article I found a few minutes ago via Twitter that was published yesterday, a writer at Examiner put together an article recounting her visit to the offices of Ray Stevens Music in Nashville, TN this past Thursday. The article can be read by clicking the following Ray Stevens article link. The writer of the piece is Donna Nolan-Wilson. In it, she mentions the recent death of George Lindsey, and that the visit took place this past Thursday, the day before the funeral. The article doesn't offer any direct quotes from Ray or any interview-style Q&A's but all in all it's a positive article that promotes Ray's You Tube activity and his 9-CD Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. The article offers a new photo of Ray...decked out in a plaid shirt standing inside his recording studio. The article states that Ray is working on some new political songs...and I for one can't wait to hear them!!

The other day, on Facebook, it was announced that a sketch taped during the early '90s that was cut from the Amazing Rolling Revue television pilot will surface at some point on You Tube. The Amazing Rolling Revue, which I mentioned in a previous blog entry, was released on home video in 1992. The program was meant to be a pilot for a television series but there were no takers.

Ray is no stranger to the visual medium. Sure, today, he's known for his music videos and You Tube but not many people realize, if you've not paid too much attention to his interviews from the past, that there was a time when he pursued appearances on the big screen and the small screen. There was a time when you'd be able to catch him in a cameo role in various television productions...including the daytime drama, Texas, in 1981 where he performed his single at the time, "One More Last Chance". He appeared on The Fall Guy as Webb Covington and a couple of movies in the late '70s featured Ray in cameo appearances: Concrete Cowboys and Murder in Music City. These two films were released in 1979...and both have a country music backdrop...and both feature a cameo role from Ray Stevens. Claude Akins co-starred in both movies which causes confusion for those not aware that there were two separate movies that took place in Tennessee. Jerry Reed and Tom Selleck starred in Concrete Cowboys. Ray performed "Sunshine" in that film, a song from his Misty album from 1975. In the Music City film Ray performed a short song, with Ronnie Milsap, called "It's Only Temporary". Ray wrote the song according to the credits.

There was once a series called Nashville 99 and Ray made an appearance on this program. The show lasted a few episodes and it starred Jerry Reed and...drum roll...Claude Akins! Concrete Cowboys would become a television series. Jerry Reed returned for the series but Selleck's role was took over by Geoffrey Lewis. Akins had been a star in the series, Movin' On, which had a theme song performed by Merle Haggard. Notice all the ties between country music of the late '70s and both the small and big screen? The ultimate marriage between country music and the big screen would happen in 1980...with Urban Cowboy. Marty Robbins once hosted a television program and Ray made an appearance...

Did Ray Stevens ever appear on the television show, Dukes of Hazzard? The answer would be No...but he appeared on a wide variety of television offerings in the meantime.

Now, this sort of thing fits a pattern that was consistent in Ray's career for awhile during that point in time.  He made many appearances on Nashville-based programs...including Pop! Goes the Country and Hee-Haw. The latter appearances started to come in bunches during the 1980' the end of the '80s he had also became a frequent guest co-host on Hee-Haw. He taped so many segments that it wasn't uncommon for an episode to air featuring his performances and then several weeks later an entirely different set of performances could be seen. There were some episodes in which Ray wasn't the headlining guest but that didn't take away from his performances.

In Pop! Goes the Country I think a major reason for his numerous appearances had to do with his friendship with it's host, Ralph Emery. He also made appearances after Tom T. Hall took over as host in 1979...but for the longest time Ralph's television programs were certain to feature Ray Stevens at some point or another. While Hee-Haw became the show that Ray appeared on the most in the 1980's...with a close second being the Ralph Emery hosted Nashville Now...the program that Ray appeared on the most in the '70s was without question Pop! Goes the Country with a close second being his appearances in the early '70s on Andy Williams' program. When Jerry Reed was asked to host a country music special in 1979 Ray Stevens was among the guests. Ray performed an abbreviated version of "Freddy Feelgood" before launching into his current single at the time, "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow". In the famed Chet Atkins television special from 1980 Ray performed "Night Games" and "Frog Kissing". The latter was actually a Chet Atkins vocal hit...the recording had been produced by Ray in 1976. The song itself had been written by Buddy Kalb. Ray performed the background harmony in the recording, too.

As early as 1970 Ray was working on the legendary story of Johnny Appleseed...from the few news articles I've come across, apparently, it was suppose to be a stage production of some kind...a lot like the Mark Twain adaptation musicals of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Here is a news archive from June 24, 1970 reprinted by Google detailing Ray's career at that point in time: June 24, 1970 news article. It's from a newspaper called The Bryan Times. The story was written by one named Mel Heimer and it briefly mentions the Johnny Appleseed project.

Ray Stevens and Political Music...

I wrote about this a few blogs ago but I never wrote any follow-up blog entries due to the fact that The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music was brand new and that took up a lot of my blog entries the last several months. The 9-CD box set will reach 3 months old this coming May 28th. It has yet to appear for sale on Amazon but I have a feeling that it won't become available for purchase there anytime soon but then again it may show up for sale there sooner rather than later.

Anyway, the Ray Stevens Book that I wrote about a few blogs ago is titled Let's Get Political. The link will take you to the product page at Ray's web-site. He's advertising what he's calling a Tea Party Special which includes We The  People, The Spirit of '76, and the Let's Get Political book. However, you can still purchase the items separately...and since I already have the CD's that are being offered I obviously purchased the book by itself. I highly recommend the book for those who already have the CD's. I also highly recommend the book for those who discovered Ray Stevens on You Tube and had no idea of who he was beforehand. The book will introduce you to the essays of Ray Stevens and Buddy Kalb as they offer commentary on the songs found on We The People and The Spirit of '76.

The CD's feature an abundance of political and patriotic songs. Before anyone can ask...Ray does realize that there are people who have not been too happy or supportive of his decision to incorporate political feelings into his music but those are the opinions of a minority. In fact, since December 2009, the response has actually been 90% positive. There's a small amount of criticism and flack that comes from a vocal 10% but the fact remains that a majority of Ray's fan-base either share similar feelings or have the exact same feelings about the issues of the day as he does. If anyone thought that Ray was a far-left liberal progressive at any point in time then you were mistaken and it's easy to see why.

You can be a conservative and still want peace, love, and prosperity...but the means in which to achieve it are vastly different based upon political ideology.

A song like "Everything Is Beautiful", released by Ray in 1970, has long been described as a song championing a liberal cause while a more recent song, such as "Thank You", honors the soldiers in the military who voluntarily join the Armed Forces without knowing if they will be sent overseas or not. Extremists on the left side of the political spectrum can say that the 1970 song fits their agenda while extremists on the right can latch onto the sentiments in "Thank You".

However, a general audience should be able to enjoy both songs for what they are...without having to apply a political undertone or overtone in their decisions to like or not like either song. I love a lot of the well-done protest songs of the late '60s but that doesn't make me some sort of anti-war zealot...I like a lot of military songs, too, but that doesn't make me some sort of military zealot. I like several styles of music but Ray Stevens is the one I'm the biggest fan of. Music critics and radio programmers, especially, love to pigeonhole radio listeners into only being tolerable of specific sounds or certain artists, which is why critics labeled Ray's "Everything Is Beautiful" as a sentiment for the liberal point of view...never realizing that anyone, of all political points of view, may enjoy the song as well.

Anyway, that sort of assumption by critics, for example, paved the way for the splintering of the Top-40 format in the 1980's as every musical style under the sun seemingly got it's own special popularity chart and radio frequency but that's an entirely different discussion!

Are you one of the more than half a million or so that have watched Ray's hilarious "Mr. President - Mr. President" music video? A recently updated total shows that 563,459 people have viewed the video. Multiple views aren't counted and so it's safe to say that the video's been watched over a million times because it's only natural that a music video that people like will be watched multiple times. Even if people only watch a video twice you can multiply the video's current unique view total by 2 and get an estimated total of real-time views. If all 563,459 people were to watch the video just 1 additional time the total would technically be 1.1 million real-time views. If all those people watch the video 6 times throughout the course of a week the total of real-time views would be 3.3 million, etc. etc.

So, yes, while You Tube prevents the tallying of multiple views when they report on a video's view count, in an effort to stop skewed numbers ratcheted up by rabid fan bases, the fact remains that a lot of times, especially for music-related video content, people watch a video more than once so the real-time numbers will never come to light since multiple views aren't counted. Enjoy this clever song and speaks volumes...

Ray Stevens...those early '90s gems...

I've come across several on-line music sites and other web-sites pertaining to discographies, etc. etc. and mostly all of them are inaccurate about a few of the CD's from Ray Stevens. The reviews of a couple of his CD's from the early '90s incorrectly label the projects as compilation, rather than studio, albums. The first CD I came across that has an inaccuracy is titled #1 With a Bullet, from 1991. The review makes it appear that the CD features previously recorded material. Not only does the review make it appear that the CD is a compilation release it also incorrectly states that Ray recorded for Curb Records in the late '80s and early '90s. Ray began his association with Curb in 1990 and remained represented by that label through 1995. He returned to MCA in 1996, after having recorded for them first during the 1984-1989 time frame, and he remained with MCA through 1998. He returned to Curb Records in the following decade, starting in late 2001, and released various projects for the label during the next 3-4 years. His own label, Clyde Records, had been a part of Ray's career dating back to the late '80s but the label didn't have it's first big success until the 1992 release of Comedy Video Classics and from that point onward, his Clyde Records became the major distributive outlet for his home videos and later, DVD's, and now his CD's.

But going back to the CD review of #1 With a Bullet...the review apparently was picked up and shared all over the internet because I've seen quite a few places list this 1991 studio album in the compilation section rather than in the studio album section of web-site discographies. Elsewhere in the write-up, the reviewer laments that fact that the 'compilation' album doesn't contain any of Ray's songs from the '60s and '70s...which is one more example of the confusion that existed by the reviewer in not knowing that the CD was a studio album. The CD's title is based on any artist's hope that their album will hit the #1 spot on the album charts...and the album's cover art depicts the title literally...showing Ray, holding up a giant bullet, with his index finger pointing in the air (referencing, of course, the #1 in the CD's title).

Another CD that's long been publicized on-line as a compilation is 1993's Classic Ray Stevens. This particular CD features 10 songs that were all brand new at the time of release...well, the only cover song on the collection was his version of "The Bricklayer's Song" that had long been associated with Irish artists..but even that was brand new to Ray's career. Anyway, the CD was one of his studio albums for Curb Records but due to it's title you have modern-day reviewers who apparently didn't do their homework because they routinely label the CD as a "collection of previously released songs" when, in reality, all the songs were new to Ray's career at the time. The album's title is based upon the classical music cover art...showing a bust of Ray atop a piano in a Beethoven-like reference. The sheet music at the piano is titled Concerto for Cornball. Nevertheless, Classic Ray Stevens was indeed a studio album and not a compilation of re-recorded songs as referred to in the many reviews of the CD that appear on-line. Basically, each of the reviews make each of the CD's appear as low-budget compilations rather than impeccably produced and recorded studio albums of their day. 1991's #1 With a Bullet and 1993's Classic Ray Stevens are two of Ray's studio albums for Curb Records. His other studio album for the label was his 1990 release, Lend Me Your Ears. Ray issued a couple of music videos for some songs from the 1990 release: "Sittin' Up With the Dead" and "Help Me Make It Through the Night". Those two music videos would later surface on 1992's Comedy Video Classics along side his mid '80s music video of "Santa Claus Is Watching You" and his 1988 music video for "Surfin' U.S.S.R.". Four additional music videos were shot to compile the award winning #1 home video.

Ray only recorded three studio albums for Curb Records. The label issued several legitimate compilation projects on Ray during the 1990's: Greatest Hits (1991), 20 Comedy Hits (1995), and Great Gospel Songs (1996). #1 With a Bullet and Lend Me Your Ears, ironically, were both re-issued on CD in 2005...and I believe the 2005 re-issue is where the bulk of the more contemporary reviews of #1 With a Bullet have come from. It was during Ray's association with Curb Records that he became famous for his home video releases and his Branson, Missouri concerts...first as a popular guest at other venues and then as a headliner himself at The Ray Stevens Theatre which was in business for three consecutive seasons: 1991, 1992, and 1993. This activity, the home video productions and the Branson concerts, may have played a big part in why his audio output during the 1990's was low by comparison to the decade before. During 1990 through 1999 Ray Stevens released only five studio albums...3 for Curb Records, 2 for MCA Records...the rest of the time was spent on music video creations and concert engagements. The home video releases from Ray during the 1990's were Amazing Rolling Revue, Comedy Video Classics, Ray Stevens Live!, More Ray Stevens Live!, and the direct-to-home video movie, Get Serious!. It's interesting to note that 1992's Comedy Video Classics was inspired by the success of a similar home video that was sold exclusively at his Branson, Missouri theater. The concept was expanded on in the form of Comedy Video Classics and Ray went on to sell millions of copies of the home video through direct marketing and retail during a very prolific 2 year period, 1992-1994, which saw Ray become a leader in home video sales.  

May 9, 2012

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 34...

On Monday, Ray Stevens released a statement about George Lindsey, who had passed away on Sunday at the age of 83. You can read Ray's message here at Music News Nashville. The statement's been picked up by quite a few news outlets as well as other blog sites and spread around the internet. I found out about Lindsey's death while surfing the internet...when I wrote my early Sunday morning blog publicizing Ray's upcoming appearance that night on a 1972 episode of Hee-Haw I was unaware of Lindsey's death and therefore I made no mention of it in the blog. I don't think the news had really broke when I was putting the Sunday morning blog together. Once I found out about his death I wrote a blog entry about Lindsey in my Animation blog, which doubles as my off-topic blog, where I comment about a lot of other topics not associated with Ray Stevens. You can find that blog address on my profile or you can click This Link and be taken right to the blog.

Ray posted a link to a short review of the Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. That review is Here. Within the write-up there's a link to Amazon...a product page for the's from the Amazon marketplace, though, so it's not been officially released to Amazon as of now. The marketplace, for those unaware, is a seller generated sub-site where people can purchase things from Amazon members and deal directly with the Amazon member rather than the store itself. The seller's asking $150.00 for their copy of the collection.

Did anyone catch Ray Stevens on Hee-Haw this past Sunday? As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, this 1972 episode first aired on RFD-TV in early November of 2011 and so this was your last opportunity to see it. Ray's first performance was "Isn't It Lonely Together?". In the performance he's seated on a stool in casual attire...a red shirt and blue jeans. He's got a beard and the show's resident dog, Beauregard, was shown laying on the floor during the performance. The production was top-notch...several times in the performance they used split-screen camera effects. Later, during the performance of "Gitarzan", the mood is much more festive and upbeat as you can imagine...complete with several Hee-Haw Honeys prancing around behind Ray as he performed the song. He was in the same attire but this time he had the electric guitar with him. Instead of re-writing what I already wrote in a previous blog entry in November 2011 let me just say that it was a great performance!!!

I think I speak for all fans when I say we want to see more Ray Stevens...LOTS more vintage Ray from the '60s, '70s, and '80s especially. I say this because there's not been too much footage of him from those decades. I still look for the day to come where somebody or some company in Nashville or wherever gets copyright clearances or gets the permission of the various copyright holders of his many television appearances and then puts them out on a DVD collection for all the fans to see. I can say, without doing much research, that there are quite a few out there who'd love to see a DVD like that come available. The same holds true, obviously, for his summer TV show from 1970. I've seen performances of Andy Williams from his 1969-1971 variety program...the same exact years that Ray Stevens was a recurring cast-member...but yet any songs or sketches that Ray participated in don't show up. I don't know if that's a decision from Ray or whoever to keep those appearances out of DVD circulation...but all his fans would love to see those performances...especially those fans in my age bracket and younger who weren't even born when the summer TV show was on the air. All we have are a few clips from The Life and Times of Ray Stevens that The Nashville Network aired in the late '90s. The two clips that were shown come from the same 1970 episode...he sang snippets of "Mr. Businessman" and "Everything Is Beautiful". I was born in 1976 and became aware of Ray Stevens in the mid 1980's...but as time went on I researched his music and television appearances and am perhaps one of the MANY who want to see all of his television appearances. But of course, I know that can never be accomplished because a lot of his earliest appearances, I'd say, are lost to time...either taped over or destroyed when it was common practice for television stations and networks to tape over episodes or wipe their tapes for cost cutting reasons...but there were just as many appearances, I assume, that are still on tape and available for re-mastering for the DVD age. I won't hold my breath, of course, but it's something in the back of my mind that someday I'd like to see happen.

May 6, 2012

Ray Stevens On Hee-Haw, Part 6!!!!!!

***Ray Stevens television alert!!!***

Tonight, May 6th 2012 at 8pm Eastern on RFD-TV, Ray Stevens' second appearance on Hee-Haw will be re-ran. 

RFD-TV is currently repeating the 1972-1973 season...this season originally aired for the first time on the channel during the latter half of 2011 through early 2012. 11 weeks ago the channel started airing the '72-'73 season once again. Ray Stevens, ironically, was one of the guests on the season opener performing "Turn Your Radio On" and "Along Came Jones". Dizzy Dean was one of the other guests on that particular episode. Typically what happens when it comes to airing of the reruns of Hee-Haw is a season of reruns will air, in chronological order, and then once those episodes have aired then they're repeated, only once, for the simple concept of filling a 52 week calendar year.

There were 26 episodes per season, airing weekly, during the first 23 seasons of the series (1969-1991) which adds up to 52 air-dates once you factor in the rerun. During the 1992 season there were only 22 episodes produced...enabling the show to have 4 open spots to air whatever rerun from 1992 that it chose.

Anyway, the particular episode that airs on RFD-TV later tonight, which also features Donna Fargo, was the 11th show of the '72-'73 season and so RFD has 15 more episodes remaining to re-air before they jump into the '73-'74 season later this fall. This 11th episode, for those keeping track, aired for the first time on RFD-TV on November 6, 2011. In this episode Ray, with a beard, performs "Gitarzan" and "Isn't It Lonely Together".

May 3, 2012

Ray Stevens and the Tax Code...

Welcome to May...Ray Stevens fans!! A couple of days ago a new upload appeared on You's a perfect solution to the federal tax code...or any tax code...Ray Stevens singing "If Ten Percent Is Good Enough For Jesus". This was taken from the same 2010 concert as a previous video upload, "We The People", which I embedded in a previous blog. The song was written by Hal Coleman, Ken Gibbons, and Roger Searcy and it's a song that has quite a history to it but over the course of the last 3+ years it's obtained an entirely new relevancy than it previously had. Considering there's a White House that insists on raising taxes...on everyone...not on just the so-called 'millionaires and billionaires'. Also, there's the incessant spending billions at the drop of a hat...and yes, massive spending was happening in the previous Administration, too, but not at this kind of pace and not on pipe dream fantasies (like 'green energy', 'electric cars', 'economic equality', 'Solyndra', 'global warming', and other nonsense).