July 31, 2014

Ray Stevens: We The People...4 years Later...

Good late afternoon Ray Stevens fans! It happened to be during the summer of 2010 that Ray's We the People CD became available for purchase all over the internet. It's release date on Amazon was June 8, 2010. It had been available for purchase exclusively on Ray's website store since April of 2010 but it didn't get it's wider release until June.

At the time of the CD's June 2010 release Ray had been experiencing his initial successes on YouTube. He had also been a guest on many political and current events-oriented talk shows on radio and TV. All of it stemmed from the on-line popularity of several music videos. On December 11, 2009 Ray uploaded onto YouTube a music video called "We the People". The video/song dealt with Obamacare...the bill being drafted in Congress overhauling the United States healthcare system. Although the bill's official name is The Affordable Care Act, the nickname Obamacare became it's unofficial moniker. The nickname came from the bill's opponents. The bill became law in early 2010 on a party line vote and ever since then it's been the subject of numerous lawsuits and on-going debates. The actual law itself doesn't really take full effect for several more years but gradual implementation has been going on since 2010 and the more people see it's impact the more unpopular the law is becoming with Independent voters.

The video kicks off with Ray playing a plunger like a guitar (a visual reference to Joe the Plumber). The video's success and everything else that happened for Ray throughout 2010 set the stage for the next several years. He became a frequent performer at several political rallies for Tea Party groups and appeared on several high profile programs on the Fox News Channel multiple times throughout the year. The video, as of July 31st, has gotten 5,101,028 unique views. It obtained more than a million unique views during it's first month on-line.

In March of 2010, a couple of additional music videos surfaced: "Caribou Barbie", a salute to the political opinions of Sarah Palin, debuted on March 11 and a little more than a week later the rallying cry of "Throw the Bums Out!" hit YouTube on March 22. The latter music video has 1,070,046 unique views as of July 31, 2014. The Palin music video has half a million unique views as of July 31, 2014...the exact total is 580,809. You'd think it would've had many more views than that considering the video's subject matter but it never did get the coverage some of his other YouTube videos have gotten. There's millions upon millions of blogs, sites, and video clips of Sarah Palin and those that impersonate her all over the internet and so it's massive competition to say the least. Nevertheless, Ray's video is comical and cute, in places, and it includes impersonator Lori Stegner playing the part of Palin.

On May 13, 2010 Ray released the music video, "Come to the U.S.A." onto YouTube! This one, about illegal immigration and the problems of non-assimilation, has recently caught fire again. It originally hit during the height of the Arizona border security crisis and the controversies that erupted throughout the remainder of 2010-2011 surrounding illegal immigration, deportation, and a Federal Government unwilling to enforce it's immigration laws. In terms of unique views it's his biggest video hit...currently sitting at 8,544,298! A couple of days ago (July 28) the video had 8,499,676. The totals indicate a pick-up of 44,622 unique views in three days time.

A month after the release of "Come to the U.S.A.", the topical "Global Warming Song" hit YouTube on June 29, 2010. It was the fifth music video from a song found on the 2010 We the People CD. The music video's gotten 438,377 unique views. If the topic ever becomes a national issue once again the video should get more attention than it has.

A sixth music video from that 2010 CD surfaced on July 23, 2012 (to date the last music video to come from a song found on We the People). The music video titled "Obama Nation" became another million view hit...as of today it's got 1,095,849 unique views. Sandwiched between that 2012 video release and "The Global Warming Song" in June of 2010 was a Christmas music video in 2010 and other political videos of songs later to be found on the 2012 CD, Spirit of '76. Those particular videos started hitting YouTube in 2011.

Those interested can purchase the 2010 CD on Amazon. There's an Mp3 version also available for those that don't want the CD format. Once you click the link above you can click the Mp3 link on the Amazon page.

But, of course, 2010's "Come to the U.S.A." is the music video receiving a major resurgence at the moment and here it is...

July 28, 2014

Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Part 2...

Hello once again...in less than a month the Ray Stevens Gospel Collection is to hit the market and I can't wait! The release date is August 19th. I just came over from Amazon and they've corrected their product page for the CD and it now shows 'Ray Stevens' as the artist rather than 'Ryan Stevens' and they've also added a track list, too. There had been a track list available on some of the other on-line stores but this is the first I'd seen one on Amazon.

You can pre-order the CD at Amazon or in other on-line stores. I have not read anything indicating that the CD is to be sold in traditional shopping stores...most of Ray's music of the last 10+ years has pretty much been exclusive to the internet and released on his own record label, Clyde Records. This one, however, is being released by the Gaither family on an independent record label. In an earlier interview Ray mentioned that the Gaither company would largely be responsible for the marketing and publicity. There are 12 performances on the CD. Five of the twelve performances are medleys of 2 songs each. I'm excited about it's upcoming release...I'm sure to be more excited as the calendar flips from July to August and later in the month as I order it. I'm thinking about putting in an Amazon pre-order for the CD next Friday. I initially was going to wait until it became available for purchase on it's official release day, August 19th, but I'm leaning toward placing an order early. Does Amazon ship items ahead of release for those that pre-order in an effort to get the product to the buyer on release day? I've often wondered about that but have never asked about it. If I choose to wait until August 19th and place an order the CD probably wouldn't arrive in the mail for several days. If I place a pre-order next Friday I'll more than likely make mention of it in a blog post. Here's the song list for those that are curious and hadn't taken a look yet...

Swing Down Chariot/Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Shall We Gather at the River/Down By the Riverside

Dry Bones

Farther Along

Have a Little Talk with Myself/Have a Little Talk with Jesus

Old Rugged Cross/Rock of Ages

Old Time Religion/When the Roll is Called Up Yonder

Onward Christian Soldiers

Amazing Grace

Turn Your Radio On

The Preacher and the Bear

If Jesus is a Stranger

Here's the updated Amazon product page for the Gospel Collection CD. As you can see from the song list I provided he's included a comedy recording in the form of "The Preacher and the Bear". This particular song dates back to the early 1900s and it's been recorded by many artists. Ray recorded it for his Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music box set in 2012 and it makes an encore appearance on this gospel CD. I first heard the song as performed by Phil Harris and I've also heard the Jerry Reed recording, too. Ray's recording is just as good.

What are the numbers for the "Come to the U.S.A." YouTube video? I'm glad you asked! In a span of 6 days (July 22 to July 28) the video's gotten 105,879 unique views to bring it's overall total to 8,499,676! It's knocking on the door of 8.5 million.

Ray Stevens: Rayality TV webisode 16...

Hello all...I didn't have much time to be on the computer the last couple of days but in keeping with my tradition I've decided to embed the latest installment of Rayality TV from Ray Stevens...

This particular installment features the Reverend Ray character of fictional P.R.A.Y TV spreading the word about animals running wild in a couple of churches. The music videos spotlighted are "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" and "Smoky Mountain Rattlesnake Retreat".

In other happenings...yes, Ray's 2010 music video about illegal immigration, "Come to the U.S.A.", continues to rack up new unique views. It's approaching 8.5 million at the moment. The detailed total is 8,499,273!

For those that missed it or didn't make it there in person, the Country Music Hall of Fame's website has Ray's July 19th appearance at the Ford Theater embedded on their site. You can see the video and interview by clicking HERE. I don't know how long the video will be on-line, though...so watch it while you can. It runs about an hour.

One of the LP's from Ray Stevens that has never, to date, been issued on CD or become available as an Mp3 is 1969's Have a Little Talk with Myself. It's anyone's guess as to the reasons but it's probably due to the fact that most of the songs on it are Ray's versions of then-current pop songs and maybe some sort of music rights/publishing conflict is keeping that particular LP from making it's conversion to the digital age. The songs, with the exception of the title track that Ray penned, haven't become readily available on compilation projects either and so chances are the only place you're going to hear Ray's versions of "Hey Jude", "Aquarius", "Help", and others is to seek out the LP on eBay. Yes, in case you're asking yourselves, there are songs that have been lifted from the LP that have appeared elsewhere: "Hair", "Games People Play", and "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" have appeared on compilation projects released on Ray Stevens...with "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" (Ray's first single to reach the country music charts) being the most readily available of the three. A lot has been made of Ray's version of that particular song. Ray recorded it first and released it in 1969. In spite of the great performance and production it's a case of public image vs. lyrics. Ray had never cultivated the image of being a hell-raiser or one routinely coping with a hangover. The song became enormous a year later in 1970 by Johnny Cash.

This is one of my favorite LP covers. It's an image that I've had in my favorites for years. I've never came across the LP in any flea market...it's often for sale on eBay and other on-line auction sites at a less than reasonable selling price. As you can tell, it's a 2-LP set...20 songs altogether. It became available in 1979 on a label called Imperial House and it's filled with songs from Ray spanning the years of 1968 through 1975...and the one exception being his current hit single at the time, 1979's "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow". The LP collection closes with that recording...the only recording representing his four year stay at Warner Brothers (1976-1979) to make the collection. Apparently the collection's purpose was to spotlight early recordings from Ray and deliberately finish it off with his current hit at the time. If I had been putting the project together I would've closed with his 1968 recording of "Isn't it Lonely Together" and had "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow" as track 18 but I understand the reason for closing the collection with the 1979 hit...and it has a big finish and is perfect to close out a collection, too...but the aching and despair heard in Ray's vocals on the 1968 recording could also work as an LP closer, too.

This television performance, from 1979, is great. It lacks some of the instrumentation used in the studio recording, most notably the horn section, but nonetheless it's still fabulous. You might have to raise your volume...the audio isn't as crisp and sharp as it once was. To mirror this 2-LP collection, I'm closing this blog post with "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow"...

July 24, 2014

Ray Stevens: July Songwriter Session Podcast...

Hello one and all...a brief blog post today!

As I mentioned a couple of days ago I stated that I'd post a link to the Ray Stevens interview and performance at the Country Music Hall of Fame's Ford Theater if I come across one. A link has since surfaced in the form of a podcast. The site doesn't offer an embed code and so you'll have to click this Songwriter Session Video LINK instead. Once the page opens you'll see the video and you'll be able to play it rather easily. It runs a little less than 1 hour.

Absolute Publicity has posted a re-cap of the July 19th event including a link to Ray's appearance at the event (the same performance that I linked to above). The article also includes a comment from Oak Ridge Boy Duane Allen, who attended the event. You can read their re-cap HERE

July 23, 2014

Ray Stevens Gospel Collection...

Hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens! Yes, it's an early blog post today...I happened to come from Amazon several minutes ago and noticed that the product page for the Ray Stevens Gospel Collection CD has been updated. The page no contains a picture of the CD...but in the small print it still lists the artist as Ryan Stevens in spite of the CD's title on full display indicating the actual artist. You can see the Amazon page HERE and if you're a member you can place a pre-order if you desire. The CD's release date is August 19, 2014. Amazon doesn't have a song list but you can check the other on-line sites for a song list. In my previous blog post (you can access it off to the right in the archives) I provided links to several on-line retail stores that have the CD and it's track list on their product page. Whichever on-line store you ultimately choose to purchase your copy make sure you look for that CD image. There are several gospel projects already on the market that have been released on Ray Stevens on a variety of different record labels and those projects are filled with the gospel songs he recorded in the early '70s for his Turn Your Radio On album. This project has the Gaither Gospel Series stamp on the top left side of the CD picture sleeve and some of the songs on this upcoming 2014 CD are "Dry Bones", "If Jesus Is a Stranger" and "Onward Christian Soldiers".

"Come to the U.S.A." did indeed vault past the 8.4 million mark in unique views. Yesterday morning the video had 8,393,797 unique views and this morning it has 8,421,039 for a pick up of 27,242.

July 22, 2014

Ray Stevens: July Songwriter Session Pictures...

Good morning all...if you've done a recent Google image search for Ray Stevens then you'll be aware that several new pictures of him have been showing up during the search results. Those pictures come from his July 19th appearance at the Country Music Hall of Fame's Ford Theatre during the Songwriter Session series. There are more than 30 pictures captured from the event...from both backstage, during the performance and interview, and several from the Nashville book signing afterward.

You can see all of those pictures HERE.

Speaking of the book...you can purchase your copy on AMAZON. That link takes you to the paperback version. There is a Kindle version available, too. I seldom post a link to the Kindle because I'm biased...I prefer people buy the actual physical copy of the book. Of course, I know that once a person clicks the Amazon link to the paperback copy of Nashville they can easily click the link for the Kindle edition. No matter which format you choose it's a great story/history of Nashville from the experiences of Ray Stevens. The book should start to become available at his on-line store in a couple of months.

In the meantime...

The totals for the illegal immigration music video, "Come to the U.S.A.", have obtained more than 20,000 unique views since my previous blog post yesterday. The total, as of now, is 8,393,797. I'm sure it'll make it into the 8.4 million range some point today.

Around this same time next month Volume One of Ray's gospel CD should be making the headlines among the social media sites. It's to be released on August 19 and the marketing is to be handled by the Gaither company but it should be available at all the on-line music stores. The title of the CD is Ray Stevens Gospel Collection Volume One.

At the moment I've seen it up for Pre-Order on the Best Buy site. You can see their product page HERE. You will need to become a member of their on-line site to place a pre-order. There is also has a product page, but no Pre-Order availability at the moment, at this SITE from Capitol Christian Distribution. A third page I come across offering a Pre-Order of the gospel CD is this one from a site called Family Christian. As is the case with the other music stores, you'll have to register to become a member and create an account at the Family Christian site before purchasing items.

Is Amazon offering a pre-order? Well, if you type "Ray Stevens Gospel Collection" at Amazon a CD shows up in the search results with that title indicating the release is to be August 19, 2014 but inexplicably the site has the artist name listed as 'Ryan Stevens' instead of 'Ray Stevens' even though the name of the CD clearly states it's Ray Stevens. I sent an e-mail to the appropriate department several weeks ago informing them of their spelling mistake but the typo has never been corrected and it still lists the recording artist for the CD as 'Ryan Stevens' even though Ray's name is clearly part of the CD's title. Amazon doesn't have a picture of the CD unlike the other music stores.

You can see for yourselves HERE.

July 21, 2014

Ray Stevens: Rayality TV webisode 15...

Hello all...

Since an installment didn't get posted this past Friday, Ray Stevens and company have posted webisode 15 of Rayality TV on YouTube today rather than wait until this coming Friday. On his Facebook page he comments that there is to be webisode 16 this coming Friday. In this webisode, titled Return of the Blue Cyclone, the conclusion of "The Ballad of the Blue Cyclone" music video is presented as is the music video of "Ahab the Arab". I hope more clips from his We ain't Dead Yet sitcom continue to appear (the scenes that take place at The Encore retirement home are lifted from that short-lived on-line series).

But until then...here's webisode 15 of Rayality TV...

I can only identify a couple of people in the bar fight scene in the music video. Aside from Ray there's his friend, Buddy Kalb, as The Blue Cyclone and seated at the tables are the Julio dummy from the "Sex Symbols" song (a 1987 recording by Ray found on his Crackin' Up album), and John Ragsdale (Ray's brother, seated next to the blond woman). I'm sure I'd recognize the names of the others because there are a lot of names associated with Ray's career whose faces I'd not even recognize if I'd see them.

Meanwhile, Ray's 2010 music video, "Come to the U.S.A.", continues to climb in numbers. At the moment it's at 8.3 million unique views. The total at the moment being 8,368,497. This is up almost half a million from a couple of weeks ago...I remember mentioning in a recent blog post that the video had 7.9 million unique views and now it's in the 8.3 range. I may go back and look up that blog post and report a more detailed number of increased unique views that have accumulated in the last couple of weeks. I have a feeling it's at least an increase of more than 300,000.

July 19, 2014

Ray Stevens: July 2014 Songwriter Session Re-Cap...

Good Saturday afternoon all the fans of Ray Stevens! About half an hour ago I finished listening to the live stream of Ray's interview/performance at the Ford Theater inside the Country Music Hall of Fame. I made mention of this upcoming event in several of my previous blog entries and made mention that it would be streamed on-line for those that couldn't appear in person.

He performed at the venue with a band...usually he chooses to use a click track and have the music piped in as he sings over top of it...but having the band there added a certain something to the performances. Having said that, I don't mind it if he uses a band or not...but there's an aesthetic difference certainly.

The program was a combination interview and performance...I earlier assumed that the interview would largely be about his book but as it turned out the event had limited interview and more music. Also, the program ran longer than advertised. I had expected it to run roughly 40-45 minutes but it ended up running an hour.

Ray performed medley's of several of his signature hits: "Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills", "Ahab the Arab", "Gitarzan", "Everything Is Beautiful", and "The Streak".

During an interview segment Ray spoke a lot about the structure of songwriting and explained that, for him, it starts out as a series of thoughts and ideas and later on it becomes transformed into a rhyming series of lyrics after he's already thought of the idea of the song. Ray was asked about inspiration and if he has different approaches to writing a comedy song verses a serious song. He explained that the process remains the same regardless of the song's presentation. Ray also mentioned that public image taught him the reason "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" was a huge hit for Johnny Cash in 1970 in spite of the fact that the same song, as recorded by Ray in 1969, didn't do as great commercially.

Ray's version is still a masterpiece of production skills and a stellar recording regardless of who had the commercial hit.

Ray mentioned that several of his bigger hits were put together in crisis mode...in other words, written to meet some sort of deadline or a last minute scramble at a recording session. He recalled that he played on three recording sessions in the same day and each recording went on to become hits: "Walk on By" by Leroy Van Dyke; "Wooden Heart" by Joe Dowell; and his own recording, "Ahab the Arab".

At several points in the program he mentioned Shelby Singleton (the man Ray credits with bringing him to Nashville from Atlanta, Georgia) and Bill Lowery (the man that helped Ray and several others establish a career in music in the late '50s). Yes, Ray did speak some about his book, Nashville. He's probably signing copies of the book at the Hall of Fame as of this writing.

The songs that Ray performed in their entirety were: "Mr. Businessman", "Be Your Own Best Friend", "Just For the Hell of It", and the closer, "Nashville". The second and third song listed happened to be a surprise. I had never, ever seen him perform those songs on TV or at the 2 concerts I happened to attend...so seeing and hearing him perform those songs was a treat.

As I had hoped, the Hall of Fame special was wonderful to see and I'm glad that it was available for on-line streaming! I have no idea if there will be an archive video of this event posted in the future or not. If it does I'll embed the video in a future blog post.

In the meantime you can purchase Ray's memoir, Nashville, at Amazon. It's in paperback and Kindle format.

July 16, 2014

Ray Stevens and the Topical Comedy...

Hello fans of Ray Stevens! If you've been reading much of the posts about Ray over on the social network sites you'll undoubtedly be aware that his illegal immigration mega-hit music video, "Come to the U.S.A." , has grabbed a lot of new viewers. The video had long since been a fixture on various sites and blogs that favor border security but in the last several days/weeks the refugee problem has sort of put some new life into this familiar music video. The music video, originally, came about during the early months of the illegal immigration battle and the eventual court case between the state of Arizona and the Federal Government several years ago.

It's important to point out, though, that there's a slight difference between a refugee and an illegal immigrant. A refugee is typically defined as someone that flees their country due to circumstances beyond their control. There has to be proof that a crisis is going on in order to classify one as a refugee. An illegal immigrant is typically defined as someone that flees their home country for their own personal reasons rather than any real threat taking place in their home country. Also, illegal immigration usually carries a sense of secrecy due to the fact that the immigrants are residing in America illegally and didn't get proper paperwork. Unfortunately, though, too many refugee's pose the same problem as too many illegal immigrants and it ends up being a societal and economic mess.

Both the humorous "Come to the U.S.A." (which has seen an obvious spike in unique views and has 7.9 million to date) and the pointed "God Save Arizona" are two songs from Ray Stevens that go in two very different directions. As you can see, "Come to the U.S.A." uses humor and sarcasm to point out the preposterous policies on illegal immigration in America compared to the illegal immigration policies of other nations around the globe.

"God Save Arizona" (1,013,997 unique views) is the complete opposite. It is very direct and pointed in it's message regarding the Federal Government and it's oppressive dealings with the State of Arizona on the issue of border security.


Don't forget, this coming Saturday, Ray Stevens is going to take part in a Songwriter Session at the Country Music Hall of Fame. A couple of days ago I made mention of this in a blog post and I included detailed information surrounding the event. Here's the LINK to my previous blog entry.

July 14, 2014

Ray Stevens: The Nashville Memoir, Part Four...

Hello fans of Ray Stevens! I come today bringing a couple of items I came across over the weekend. The first one is a video clip of Ray's performance of "Nashville" at last month's CMA Music Fest. He performed on the Durango Stage and I published a blog about it last month. There is a point in the song here he clears his throat off-mike and I only make mention of it because it affects some of his enunciation seconds later. I originally heard Ray's performances by way of a streaming audio link and so I assumed he had a sore throat but from seeing the performance for the first time I realize he had simply cleared his throat but hadn't cleared it all the way by the time he resumed singing the song.

The other item also concerns Nashville...this time it's the memoir from Ray Stevens that's already sold out of it's first printing. Vintage Vinyl News, an on-line site, published a story/interview with Ray and he discusses the book and other aspects of his career. You can read more of the story HERE. In a little more than a month from today (August 19th to be exact) a gospel CD from Ray is to be released. It is part one of a 2 volume set. The official title is Gospel Collection, Volume One. There's no information surrounding the time table for the release of Volume Two...but Volume One is sure to be great. Ray mentions in the interview that he used a lot of production for the project...in his words "the whole nine yards...". I'm sure you all can't wait to hear it, too!!

One of Ray's classic music videos, "It's Me Again, Margaret", taped in 1992 for inclusion on the 8 music video project Comedy Video Classics, hit YouTube on this day in 2009. It's become one of the latest in a string of music videos from Ray that have obtained at least 1,000,000 unique views. As of this writing it's gotten 1,000,980 unique views. If you hadn't visited his YouTube channel, Ray had long since uploaded his music video library onto his channel. A lot of the music videos that had been exclusive to home video had their re-launch on YouTube on July 14, 2009. As far as the YouTube numbers go for Ray's music videos from Comedy Video Classics, "It's Me Again, Margaret" follows "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" and "The Streak" into the million view stratosphere. In fact, "The Streak" has 3.5 million and "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" has 3.9 million, nearing 4 million as I type this. The other five music videos from Comedy Video Classics are either a little above half a million or just below.

"Surfin' U.S.S.R.", a late comer to YouTube, has 21,883 unique views. It was launched onto YouTube in June 2013 but it's not the first time it had been uploaded by Ray. I don't know the full story but I believe he had some sort of interference in keeping that music video available on YouTube later in 2009. For several years the video had been unavailable to see...even though it remained listed on his channel as an active music video. It originally became available for YouTube viewing in July 2009 but, as mentioned, for several years after it's premiere it became unavailable (greatly impacting it's numbers, of course!). The music video itself, from 1988, appeared on Comedy Video Classics as one of the four previously released music videos. The other three: 1985's "Santa Claus is Watching You", 1990's "Help Me Make It Through the Night", and 1990's "Sittin' Up with the Dead". For those that didn't realize it, Comedy Video Classics consisted of four music videos previously released (from 1985, 1988, and 1990) and four brand new music videos: "The Streak", "Mississippi Squirrel Revival", "It's Me Again, Margaret", and "Everything Is Beautiful".

Also, don't forget...click the Amazon LINK to order your copy of Ray Stevens' Nashville.

July 11, 2014

Ray Stevens: Rayality TV webisode 14...

It's Friday and in the world of Ray Stevens that means another installment of Rayality TV. There wasn't an installment last Friday and so if you've been wondering if you missed one of my blog entries or if I forgot to publish a blog containing the installment the answer is no. Ray's been busy behind the scenes doing appearances for his memoir, Nashville, and he happened to attend a funeral for one of his music industry friends (Don Light).

In today's installment you'll see the limited animation music video of "The Moonlight Special" and another favorite, The Duck-a-Fone.

The spoofs of Alice Cooper and Jerry Lee always make me laugh out loud as does the hysterical duck calling infomercial spoof.

I recently purchased my copy of the July 14th issue of Country Weekly. There's an article about Ray Stevens in that issue...dealing with his book and future projects (like the upcoming gospel CD and the Campin' Buddies film). It should be at many checkout lines in retail stores now.

On July 19 at 11:30am Central time, Ray Stevens is going to be spotlighted during a Songwriter Session at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The activities are to take place at The Ford Theater and the event is going to last 45 minutes. It's an intimate event but for those in the area and may want to attend in person you'll need to read all about the rules and policies.

The event is free to those that are Members of the museum or for those that pay general admission at the venue on that particular day.

If you want to read about the event from the official Country Music Hall of Fame site, click HERE.

**ALERT!!** You'll need to pick up a program pass 2 hours before the start of the event and so make sure you're at the Hall of Fame at the start of the business day. You can always call the Hall of Fame and ask specific information about the event if the information on the site is confusing or whatever.

July 7, 2014

Ray Stevens: Butch Babarian, Yodel Champion...

Hello July and hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens that happen to stop by at some point. As the title of this blog entry indicates I'm going to discuss a little bit about an obscure novelty single from Ray that came along 50 years ago in 1964. Some sources state that "Butch Babarian" came calling in 1963 but I've seen some internet sources claim 1964...but I've always mentioned 1964 as the year it hit because a singles price guide I have has it listed under that year. Since I have more faith in a price guide I'll continue to refer to this song's year of release as 1964. Unfortunately, though, many single releases never had a year of release printed on the label...and so there's always going to be assumption and speculation filling in the gaps of when a single actually hit the market compared to when the song itself happened to be recorded.

Now then...who exactly is this Babarian fellow?? He's a mountain climbing yodeling champion residing in the Swiss Alps. He has a dog named Houston. The song is about Butch's yodeling exercises atop a mountain and the incident that occurs one day as he was yodeling his heart's content in all directions: East, West, North, and South. During his yodel in the southern direction...the incident happens. He's taken to the hospital and is operated on and is given a special device to use from that day forward anytime he climbs a mountain to yodel. Now then...just what served as the inspiration for the character?? None other than Busch Bavarian Beer. An ad campaign for the beer that ran in the late '50s and into the '60s featured heavy use of yodelers, Germans, Austrians, and of course the mountain terrain. Busch beer used to be branded Busch Bavarian. The illustration of the Bavarian Alps still exists on labels of modern-day Busch beer cans and beer bottles but the branding named has long since changed from including Bavarian in the title.

Busch Bavarian Beer

You can hear the Busch Bavarian Beer jingle beginning at the 12 minute, 57 second mark in the video clip. It's a promotional video lasting more than 45 minutes and so, if you're only curious as to the inspiration for Ray's opening to "Butch Babarian" and a glimpse into the reason that the song is set in the sort of climate and locale it's set in, simply jump to the point in the video that I indicated.

The song didn't reach the Hot 100 pop singles chart in spite of the fact that the subject matter and the target of the parody would've been very familiar to people at the time. As far as I know there was very little publicity from the record company surrounding this release...I've researched and came up with nothing remotely close to being a promotional ad for the song. It's very comical and cute...not anything severe or savage. One of the interesting things that I came across is that Mercury Records issued at one least one series of singles in which the label contained an error in the title. The label has the song's title being Butch Babarrian...using the letter 'R' twice in the last name rather than using it just once. I'll post that image later in the blog entry. One of the things I come across as I browse the internet are people that mistakenly refer to the character's last name as 'Barbarian'. It's natural to see "Butch Babarian" and, reading it quickly, misread it as Butch Barbarian. The character's last name is pronounced and spelled 'Babarian' for a reason...to rhyme with Bavarian. Of course, if one has no idea about the Busch Bavarian beer commercials from the past, you'll have no idea of the song's original inspiration. You can hear the song on a couple of compilation projects by Mercury Records that have been issued on Ray Stevens. It's available on the Mercury collection The Best of Ray Stevens and some of the more obscure compilations originating from overseas.

Here's the image featuring the erroneous spelling...click the image for a bigger view...