December 31, 2014

Ray Stevens: What's Planned for 2015??

An early New Year's Eve hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens!! As has become the tradition each year I speculate and opine on things to come in the new year as far as the career of Ray Stevens is concerned. Here's hoping that 2015 is the year a couple of much-anticipated projects see the light of day: a Bluegrass CD, a novelty song CD, and Volume Two of the Gospel Collection. If the follow-up to the gospel CD is to be in the near future I assume it'll arrive around Easter but that's just my guess because for all we know Ray could issue Volume Two this coming January...but that doesn't seem likely. Ray has also, at various times throughout 2014, mentioned that he's also working on a CD of non-political comedy songs.  

A lot of us Ray Stevens fans have been aware of a future Bluegrass project from Ray...he's made mention of the project several times over the years (!) and as mentioned in the above greeting here's hoping the project gets a release in 2015. I believe it was early 2013 or it may have been in late 2013 when Ray appeared as a guest on the Grand Ole Opry and made mention of an upcoming Bluegrass project and performed "Pretty Woman" in a Bluegrass arrangement. His music video of "Unchained Melody", in Bluegrass-style, is also a song that's to be on this anticipated release. In early interviews he stated that the CD's title is Melancholy Fescue...but it's hard to tell if that's going to remain the official title or if it's just the working title.

Checking the anniversary calendar for 2015 there's several big projects that reach a milestone this coming year.

First and most importantly is Ray Stevens reaching 76 next month on January 24th.

Starting things off...reaching 45 in 2015 is Ray's monster hit from 1970, "Everything is Beautiful". The single re-defined 'Ray Stevens' in the eyes of the buying public. Even though Ray had long displayed his serious side on many albums and single releases since the late '50s, "Everything is Beautiful" cemented his image as a pop vocalist and pretty much all of Ray's single releases during the 1970s were non-comical (exceptions included a novelty single late in 1970, a comedy LP in 1974, and a couple of out of the blue novelty releases later on that decade). Also, Ray had a major boost in his career thanks to consistent exposure on television. He'd become one of the recurring guests on Andy Williams' television program in 1969...Ray was named the host of Andy's summer program in 1970...and Ray remained a frequent guest on Andy's program through 1971. "Everything is Beautiful" became the summer television program's theme song/music. In America the single had hit #1 for 2 weeks on the pop chart and #1 for 3 weeks on the Adult-Contemporary chart (spanning the months of late May through late June 1970). The single entered the Hot 100 in April 1970 and by it's 9th week it took control of the #1 spot. It vanished from the pop chart after it's 15th chart week but it continued to appear on several international charts. Ironically, the single had it's biggest impact just prior to Ray taking over Andy's television program in late June. The single had already left the Top-10 portion of the pop chart by the time the first episode of Ray's summer program aired. Nevertheless, the exposure of the song each week (theme music) helped sales of the album, Everything is Beautiful, and the single continued to register sales even after the song became a recurrent. The 1970 album hit the Top-40 half of the Billboard 200 in July...the title track and "A Brighter Day" are the only self-written songs on the album. The rest of the recordings are Ray's versions of contemporary pop songs of the era. The summer television program ran from June 20 to August 8.

Other single/album releases from 1970 that are turning 45 in 2015 are: "America, Communicate with Me" and "Sunset Strip", both from Ray's album, Unreal!!!. Each single reached the Top-10 on the Adult-Contemporary chart...but their impact on pop music listeners/consumers didn't duplicate the smashing success of "Everything is Beautiful" (pop music consumers then, much like today, are traditionally the under-40 audience...the advertiser targeted 18-34 age group). 

Oh, before I forget...Andy owned the Barnaby Records label that Ray recorded for during the first half of the 1970s (1970-1975) and Andy's brother, Don, was Ray's manager for many, many years.

Here's a performance of "Everything is Beautiful" from that very summer television program in 1970 as hosted by Ray Stevens...

In December 1970 "Bridget the Midget the Queen of the Blues" hit the music scene. Oh yes, amidst the angst, protest, and unrest of 1970 Ray Stevens hadn't lost his funny bone and this funny bit of comical mayhem emerged as a single. It had it's biggest impact in the early half of 1971...nevertheless, the novelty single entered the charts in late December 1970 so it, too, reaches 45 in 2015.

Reaching 40 in 2015 is Misty. Released in 1975, the Misty album featured Ray's versions of several pop standards delivered in various original arrangements. The album, of course, is named for one of his single releases that year, "Misty". The single's arrangement (most notably piano, fiddle, and iconic steel guitar) earned Ray his second Grammy. Previously, "Misty" had been made popular by Johnny Mathis. His recording featured a much more slower vocal and even slower music. Prior to that, one of the song's composers, Erroll Garner, had an instrumental recording on the market. Johnny Burke wrote lyrics to Erroll's music. Ray turned the song around and gave it an up-tempo, Bluegrass-flavored presentation. This jolt in music arrangement for a song popularly known as a slow ballad sums up the Misty album. The songs that Ray covers are arranged in the opposite of what's popularly familiar. "Misty" became a Top-5 country music hit, a Top-20 pop hit, and a Top-10 hit internationally (music surveys published in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and Austria ranked the song in their Top-10). In addition to "Misty", other single releases from the album include: "Indian Love Call" and "Young Love". Ray included 2 original songs on the album, among the cover songs: The self-written "Sunshine" is a toe-tapping sing-a-long and then there's the romantic "Take Care of Business". It's been said in several publications that the song's writer, Layng Martine, Jr., sought inspiration for it's title by the popular hook line in Ray's 1968 hit "Mr. Businessman". Aside from those similarities there's nothing else in common between the songs. Ray's versions of "Lady of Spain", "Deep Purple", and "Cow-Cow Boogie" are great, too!

Stand back or else risk getting run over by Coy...oh yes, 2015 will mark the 35th anniversary of "The Shriner's Convention", commercially released in early 1980.

One of Ray's Gold albums, I Have Returned, turns 30 in 2015. The album hit the market in the latter half of 1985 and ultimately climbed to #1 in early 1986 on the Billboard Country Album chart. Single releases from that project included: "The Haircut Song", "The Blue Cyclone", and the seasonal "Santa Claus is Watching You". The re-recording of "Santa Claus is Watching You" became Ray's first music video (for more information on that song see my 2014 Christmas day blog post in the archives).

A couple of other recordings from that 1985 album have become popular amongst fans of Ray Stevens and have since been immortalized in music video form: "Hugo the Human Cannonball" and "The Pirate Song". Strangely enough "Kiss a Pig" nor "Punk Country Love" have entered music video territory...but the two songs are hysterical in their own kind of way.

Turning 20 in 2015 is Ray's 1995 direct-to-home video movie, Get Serious!!. This home video movie became the third best selling video project for Ray Stevens during the 1990s (following 1992's Comedy Video Classics and 1993's Ray Stevens Live!). Since the home videos were sold through direct marketing during their initial availability the titles weren't eligible to enter the Billboard sales charts (no retail availability). The 1992 home video entered the Billboard video chart in May of 1992, several months after it's explosive run on television. Get Serious!! seen a retail release in late 1996 (almost a full year after it's direct marketing campaign began) and it entered the Billboard video chart in January 1997 and it remained among the top selling home videos through the fall of 1997.

And so, here's to an upcoming new year...and here's hoping that it'll be filled with a lot of Ray Stevens music!!

December 25, 2014

Ray Stevens Christmas Videos...

Hello one and all to the annual look at the Ray Stevens Christmas Videos. I usually spotlight these particular music videos on Christmas Day or in the days leading up to Christmas. A couple of years ago I dominated December with a lot of Christmas blogs...back then Ray had a brand new Christmas music video that had jumped into the hundred thousand unique view range in a matter of days. That video is located further below. 

One of Ray's earliest Christmas recordings came along in 1962...and in my previous blog post I wrote of this particular song. It's a Christmas comedy classic titled "Santa Claus is Watching You". The song hit in December 1962 and for more than 20 years it was notable for being the only Christmas song in the career of Ray Stevens. The song, aimed at children, deals ith Santa keeping a watchful eye on all children and making sure they're behaving. Lyrically it's your run of the mill sing-a-long Christmas song...but yet it has several detours along the ride. For example...Rudolph can't make the voyage due to being hospitalized after injuring himself doing The Twist. The replacement? None other than Clyde the Camel.

In 1985 Ray re-recorded...actually he re-rote "Santa Claus is Watching You" and changed it from a children's song to a more adult tale. In the 1985 version, aimed at older audiences, Ray sings about infidelity and warns that Santa sees all and is keeping an eye at all times. This particular recording of the song has since become the more familiar and the music video, Ray's first, became a Christmas hit on The Nashville Network during the early years of country music videos. Also, the 1985 recording featured a glorious scat-singing passage. This wasn't the only Christmas recording Ray issued in 1985, though. His services were asked for participation in a various artist project called Tennessee Christmas. Ray's contribution was a Christmas novelty love song titled "Greatest Little Christmas Ever Wuz". The project was released on MCA, the label Ray recorded for during the mid to late 1980s and the album featured exclusively MCA artists.  The 1985 recording of "Santa Claus is Watching You" appeared on his 1985 album, I Have Returned. The only Christmas recording on a non-Christmas project.

The Christmas music in the career of Ray Stevens never really got going in full swing until a project in 1997 came along. At the time Ray was back on MCA Records following a 5-year run on Curb Records (1990-1995). The release of Christmas Through a Different Window in 1997 introduced the music world (and Ray Stevens fans, most importantly) to an entire album of mostly original Christmas novelty songs by the novelty music genre's #1 artist. This project, promoted as Ray's first-ever Christmas album, did manage to make the Country Music album chart in 1997 but it also developed a life of it's own in the years following it's release. Each year since 1997 and running annually until around 2003, this Ray Stevens comedy Christmas album seen an annual re-release and for a couple of years it spawned several series of concerts from Ray in various venues at Opryland (specifically during the late 1990s when the CD was in it's infancy). Often billed as the Ray Stevens Christmas Show, it received a lot of press in and around Nashville and become the most popular attraction in Nashville (outside of the Christmas Lights display). Yes, at the time, commercials for the program ran on The Grand Ole Opry radio show. The concerts weren't entirely Christmas music, neither. His signature classics greeted the crowds, too. Music videos didn't immediately follo the CD's release, though. The music videos to several songs on this 1997 CD didn't start to surface until 2010 (made primarily for YouTube). 

The first music video from the 1997 CD to hit the internet arrived on November 3, 2010 in the form of "Nightmare Before Christmas". The 1997 project, as a whole, skewered political correctness and this song, in particular, hammers the point home in a more direct manner. The other songs are just a little more subtle. "Redneck Christmas" hit the internet on December 22, 2012. The very day it hit the internet another Christmas video from Ray made it's debut...the all new "Merry Christmas" (a song that spotlights the trend of not  saying Merry Christmas and replacing it with Happy Holidays or Season's Greetings). On May 1, 2013 the 1997 CD's opening track, "Guilt For Christmas", emerged as an internet video. 

In 2009, Ray released a brand new Christmas CD. This time around the music included happened to be all-serious. Almost all of the songs are his versions of classic Christmas songs but there's one original, self-penned song entitled "Deck The Halls with Teardrops". The 2009 CD is titled, simply, Ray Stevens Christmas. One song from the 2009 CD has since become a music video...and it arrived on the internet on December 3, 2012...his version of "White Christmas". Ray blended the Elvis, Drifters, and Bing Crosby versions together.  

"Blue Christmas" has a long's famously thought of as an Elvis Presley classic. Most artists that record the song usually keep the arrangement heard on the Elvis recording, too. At some point decades later a comical recording performed by a fictional group going by the name of Seymour Swine and the Squealers became a novelty classic on FM rock radio stations. The singing star is a parody of Porky Pig (complete with stutter). Over time it became part of most radio station's Christmas playlists (on both FM and AM radio). Ray decided to do his take on the stuttering version of "Blue Christmas" in 2012 and it's something to behold...a music video was put together to promote the single-only release. Keep in mind that Ray recorded a serious version of "Blue Christmas" in 2009 for the Ray Stevens Christmas CD and a promo single arrived in 2012 featuring the comical version of "Blue Christmas" backed with the serious version of "Blue Christmas". The music video hit the internet on December 21, 2012...a day before "Redneck Christmas" and "Merry Christmas"...and 18 days after "White Christmas". The Red, White, and Blue Christmas music videos of December 2012 is the big reason Ray's Christmas music dominated my blog posts that month. Since the release of the "Guilt For Christmas" music video in 2013, Ray hasn't posted another Christmas-related video. A couple days ago he re-introduced some of these music videos on his Twitter page. Both 2014 and 2013 have been relatively quiet as far as Christmas music from Ray Stevens is concerned.

Those are just some of the latter-day Christmas productions from Ray from is the classic from 1985...

You can purchase the Mp3 digital copies of both of Ray's Christmas projects at Amazon... 

Ray Stevens Comedy Christmas Mp3

Ray Stevens Serious Christmas Mp3

December 24, 2014

Ray Stevens: United Kingdom CD Import...

Hello to all the Ray Stevens fans!! As you can tell Ray's been on a's typical during the final weeks of the year, though, for most artists to take a lengthy Christmas break. As 2014 nears it's end I decided to publish a blog entry about a CD that I finally got around to ordering a couple of days ago. I made a blog post about this CD back in April...yes, that's the month that it became available! I finally have it in my possession and I'm glad I do because a lot of those early Ray Stevens songs are so obscure. Through my contact with other fans of Ray Stevens I have heard these early recordings before...and I couldn't wait to get this CD once I became aware of it's existence back in the spring. Does this collection have anything that I hadn't heard? Technically, no! However, since this CD is an import from the United Kingdom I discovered that "Ahab the Arab" must have had an alternate lyric for radio stations in Europe. I knew of the song having a radio edit and knew of the longer version, too. I have the radio edit and the longer version...each appear on various compilation CD's issued by Mercury and their subsidiaries but was I surprised at what I heard during Track 19 of this CD, the radio edit of "Ahab the Arab". Gone is the reference to R.O.C cola and MAD magazine and in their place is a reference to a pistachio milkshake and Fatima's reading a nameless magazine. The Arabic chant is a lot more exaggerated than before, too. Hearing this slightly altered lyric caught me by surprise, as I mentioned. I could have heard this before, though, but you'd think I'd remember hearing it!? One of the unique things about the CD is that it features the radio edit as Track 19 and the full length version as Track 25.

The back of the CD features a track list, credits, and an image of Ray that appeared on his 1962 single, "Santa Claus is Watching You". That song appears on this CD, too, as track 23. Much like the previous commentary, this song also had a radio edit. The CD features the unedited copy, clocking in at 3 minutes, 15 seconds. The edited copy is a little more than 2 minutes in length (its not on the CD). The first 15 songs on this 31 track collection come from the years, 1957-1960. Since several of those songs were originally released as A-side/B-side vinyl singles, the 15 tracks that lead off the collection are in actuality only a handful of single releases. 6 vinyl singles (1 song per side) adds up to 12 songs...and so doing the math the first 15 tracks works out to something like 7 vinyl singles total and one additional song added in. If you're a casual fan of Ray's then this collection is a revelation for you. If you are only aware of his latter-day comical songs or his political music videos then this collection is a revelation for you. These recordings come from a time when Ray Stevens was heavily into pop music and R and B. His pop crooning and rocking R and B delivery (on songs like "Tingle", "Chickie-Chickie-Wah-Wah", "School", "Cat Pants", "That's What She Means to Me", and others) reveal the teenage idol material that he could convincingly sing...during the time the first 15 tracks of this CD were recorded Ray indeed was a teenager...he turned 20 in January 1959 (meaning that he was all of 18 and 19 during the first 8 recordings on this collection).

When you hear Ray say that music is his whole life and that it's all he's ever done...he isn't joking around.

Most of the remaining 16 tracks (11 of them, at least) come from his debut album for Mercury. The album, titled 1837 Seconds of Humor, features the Top-40 recordings "Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills" and "Ahab the Arab", plus the Hot 100 entry, "Furthermore". A fourth single release, "Scratch My Back", didn't reach the charts but it's nonetheless is this entire 31 track collection. There are several songs from his 1963 album, This is Ray Stevens, sprinkled throughout.

Even though this CD covers some obscure and wonderful recordings from Ray Stevens there are still several more songs reaching for recognition from the dungeons of obscurity (those include songs such as "It's Party Time", "Laughing Over My Grave", "Melt", and his version of "When You wish Upon a Star" just to name a couple.

1. Rang Tang Ding Dong (I'm The Japanese Sandman)
2. Silver Bracelet
3. Cholly Wolly Chang Chang
4. Five More Steps
5. Tingle
6. That's What She Means to Me
7. Chickie Chickie Wah Wah
8. Cat Pants
9. The Clown
10. School
11. High School Yearbook
12. Truly True
13. What would I Do without You
14. Sgt. Preston of the Yukon
15. Who Do you Love
16. Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills
17. Teen Years (1963)
18. Scratch My Back
19. Ahab the Arab (radio single edit)
20. It's Been So Long (1963)
21. Furthermore
22. Saturday Night at the Movies
23. Santa Claus is Watching You (originally released as a single-only)
24. Loved and Lost (1963)
25. Ahab the Arab (longer version)
26. Popeye and Olive Oyl
27. The Rockin' Boppin' waltz
28. PFC Rhythm and Blues Jones
29. The Rock and Roll Show
30. Julius Played the Trumpet
31. A Hermit Named Dave

Those interested can purchase the CD on Amazon by clicking HERE.

December 14, 2014

Ray Stevens: Rayality TV webisode 34...

Once again it's time to take a look at Rayality TV...the 34th installment debuted this past Friday. The clip is from one of Ray's concert DVDs and it's a performance of "It's Me Again, Margaret". If you consider yourself a fan of Ray Stevens at all then you should already be very familiar with this song and, like a lot of his stage performances, you'll be hooked from the beginning. Ray knows how to perform on stage and to deliver every drop of visual comedy into a performance.

This is one of his all-time classics.

Margaret is just one of the various female characters that have become embedded into the collective memories of every Ray Stevens fan. Aside from Margaret we've heard Ray sing about Fatima, obviously, in the 1962 classic "Ahab the Arab". Fatima, a member of the Sultan's harem, is carrying on with Ahab. Most critics, if not all, usually (or deliberately) forget that it's a comical cheating song and it brings scorn and contempt from hypersensitive, politically correct zealots. In my opinion the song's cleverness of blending and mixing various fictional titles together and presenting it in a pop music recording is certainly praise-worthy, fictional stories such as Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, The Thief of Baghdad, The Sheik, The Son of the Sheik...each of those classic stories/films inspired Ray.

In the official music video of "Ahab the Arab" (filmed in 1995), Ray pays homage to the Valentino films, appearing several times in brief silent-movie type footage. It's very noticeable so be on the lookout for it.

Ray's single became a hit in the summer months of 1962. In December that year a brand new movie premiered...titled Lawrence of Arabia. I'm certain that the movie's box-office popularity throughout the early half of 1963 had unexpectedly kept Ray's novelty single as a radio recurrent long after it's original peak in 1962. Ray's single sold more than a million copies...I'd have to say that the sales strength came from much more than airplay exposure alone.

In the 1969 hits "Gitarzan" and "Along Came Jones", Ray told us about Jane and Sweet Sue, respectively. Jane attempted to be the singer in the jungle band...but her mate's overly anxious performances got on her nerves so much she screamed out her catchphrase at the end of her contribution (you readers should know that catchphrase!!). "Gitarzan" sold a million copies. Here's Ray as "Gitarzan" on the picture sleeve that accompanied the 1969 vinyl single...

Sweet Sue, on the other hand, is the classic damsel in distress type...always put in danger but rescued in the nick of time by Jones. Neither participant in "Along Came Jones" have any aspirations of being a singing sensation, though. A Gitarzan album appeared in 1969. A year later Ray had himself another hit comedy recording featuring a fictional female character...can you guess the name of it? If you said Bridget you're absolutely correct!!

"Bridget the Midget" became a international hit in late 1970/early 1971. The biggest success happened to occur in the United Kingdom. The song tells the story of a fictional tap dancer named Bridget and her back-up group, Strawberry and the Short-Cakes. The hook/gimmick of the novelty song is the sped-up vocalization of Bridget. Ray, in his natural voice, acts as presenter/narrator and at several moments in the recording there's an appearance of a spaced out beatnik/hippie-type patron that offers his enthusiasm about the goings-on.

The most popular female character in a Ray Stevens recording is a 3-way tie, actually. One of those is the previously mentioned Margaret from "It's Me Again, Margaret". The second of the three is Sister Bertha from "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival". That song and the one about Margaret both arrived back-to-back on a 1984 comedy album from Ray called He Thinks He's Ray Stevens (a Platinum selling, Top-5 Album on the country charts). Sister Bertha is the unfortunate soul that had a peculiar thing happen to her during church service.

Sister Bertha wasn't the first religious fictional female character to appear in a Ray Stevens recording. Four years earlier, in 1980, Sister Doris and Sister Dewdrop debuted on "The Dooright Family". Their duty was to sing harmony and bless the hearts of all they see. That song, made into a music video in 1995, debuted on Ray's 1980 Shriner's Convention album.

The third female character in the 3-way tie is none other than Ethel...the legendary wife of the eyewitness of "The Streak", in 1974. She comes in at #1 in the 3-way tie...the reason being is her name is synonymous with streaking thanks to the song's catchphrase heard at various moments, "don't look Ethel!!!". Another reason she's first in the 3-way tie at #1 is because "The Streak" sold more than 5 million copies internationally and because of the comical twist and the end of the song regarding Ethel's future.

Here are some other female characters that have popped up or have been mentioned in numerous recordings from Ray Stevens through the decades...

Sally Smash (pop vocalist in "The Rock and Roll Show", 1962); Sugar Bee (companion of motorcyclist "Speed Ball", 1963);  Heidi Fokes (girlfriend of "Butch Babarian", 1964); Bubble Gum (the lead character in "Bubble Gum the Bubble Dancer", 1964); Mary (title character in "Mary, My Secretary", 1967); Fair Maiden/Damsel (victim in "Sir Thanks-a-Lot", 1969); Mildred Queen (pop vocalist in "The Moonlight Special", 1974); Rita (title character in "Rita's Letter", 1980); Melissa (title character in "Melissa", 1981); Mary Lou Picket (from "Country Boy, Country Club Girl", 1982).

I'll stop there or I'll find myself mentally recalling every studio album from Ray Stevens starting in 1983 and moving forward...thinking of each and every mention of a female's name in a song or in the title of a song and so I'll stop there...but the characters above make up a good enough list.  

December 7, 2014

Ray Stevens: Recent radio station interviews...

Hello all once more! In my previous blog entries I didn't make mention of some of the recent radio interviews that Ray Stevens took part in. In addition to the television appearance on Kentucky's WBKO, Ray also gave some radio interviews to a couple of stations. Each of the interviews focused on his book and the gospel CD.

On December 4th, Ray did a 10 minute-plus call-in to radio station WKSJ in Mobile, Alabama on the Jason Taylor program. You can listen to that HERE.

On December 5th, the same day that Ray made the appearance on WBKO-TV and did the Barnes and Noble book signing, he gave an interview to radio station WGGC. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a podcast or any audio clip of his interview on that particular radio station but I became aware that Ray did an interview for the station this past Friday after seeing mention of it on a social media site and seeing a picture of Ray and the disc jockey that conducted the interview, Greg Almond.

Given that Ray appeared at the Barnes and Noble book store in Bowling Green, KY the radio and TV interviews that took place there featured Ray in-person.

The only call-in interviews that took place were on the Mobile, Alabama station and this one from Louisiana...

KVPI ...This radio station is actually an Oldies it's a little bit unusual to have a Ray Stevens interview on a station programming Oldies music (usually Ray's radio interviews are on Classic Country radio stations, morning programs on Mainstream Country stations, or on Talk Radio stations). Although Ray's career dates back to 1957 and his earliest recordings of pop/teenage love songs could easily find a home on any Oldies format, it's his reputation as a "novelty singer" that's long separated his catalog of love ballads and pop music from those that never strayed too far from the pop/love song formula.

In other words, if you play one of his singles from that era (keeping the identity of the singer a secret) and played another song by any number of pop acts from the same time period, chances are a listener would like both recordings...but once you identity 'Ray Stevens' as the singer of one of those songs a listener is more than likely going to deny it being him because it doesn't fit their idea of what Ray Stevens is all about in their mind.

Nevertheless, publicity is publicity, and the interview on KVPI is good, too. In the interview Ray makes mention of an upcoming comedy CD due out at the first of the year (at some point in early 2015).

In the interview he didn't elaborate on the style of comedy taking center stage on the CD...if it's going to be traditional country comedy, irony, satire, social commentary, political humor, mockery, or sarcasm. I doubt it'll be political humor, though, given the extremely topical and timely nature of the subject matter. It's obviously best to hit with political humor in the months leading up to a national election cycle and the midterms closed in early November of this year and it's obviously way too early to release political commentary surrounding it's anyone's guess as to the style of comedy taking center stage on the upcoming CD.

Ray Stevens: The WBKO-TV interview and More...

Hello all the fans of Ray Stevens...and yes, it's December...and it's been a busy couple of days for Ray and also a busy time of the year for myself, too. My birthday rolled around 5 days ago on December 2 and so on that day I had to do the usual birthday stuff (purchase tags for my car/update it's registration). Ray's made a couple of stops in the state of Kentucky recently on a book signing tour. Previously he made an appearance at a Louisville, KY book store.

The most recent stop happened to be in Bowling Green, Kentucky at a Barnes and Noble store a couple of days ago (December 5th). Video footage surfaced of an appearance by Ray on the local WBKO television station prior to the appearance at the book store. The segment is hosted by the station's meteorologist, Chris Allen.

The interview promotes both the memoir, Ray Stevens' Nashville, and Ray's current CD, The Ray Stevens Gospel Collection: Volume One. You can see the video clip HERE. The video playback is nearly full screen...and once you click the link and the video appears you'll have to click the play doesn't start to play automatically like most video clips do.

Also on December 5th, Ray's Nashville book received a mention near the end of the Friday episode of The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel in the Tip of the Day segment. Bill mentioned the book and played a piece of one of Ray's music videos, "The Nightmare Before Christmas". You can see that video clip HERE.

Ray's memoir, the hardback copy, is ranked #92 this hour amongst Amazon's Best Sellers in what I call a subdivided category (Books > Arts and Photography > Music). This indicates that it's selling to a niche audience. The Kindle version is ranked this hour at #16, also in a more complex subdivided category. Take a look at this Best Seller category ranking the Kindle version at #16: Kindle Store > Kindle eBooksBiographies and Memoirs > Arts and Literature > Actors and Entertainers > Comedians. After completing that, it felt like I was writing a combination Math equation-English sentence dissection. 

Here's a link to the KINDLE version of Ray Stevens' Nashville. Keep in mind that the Amazon Best Seller rankings change hourly and so it's highly likely that the ranking isn't going to be among the Top-20 at the moment you're reading this...but click the link anyway in case you hadn't made your purchase of Ray's memoir yet.

Ray Stevens: Rayality TV webisodes 32 and 33...

In the 32nd installment of Rayality TV, originally posted on November 21st, you get to see one of the comedy routines featured in between the songs he sings on the Such a Night DVD. In the performance Ray tells the story of his grandfather and relates several comical tales in the tradition of the phone conversation as he vocally plays out the part of "grandfather", "grandmother", and "himself"...

After taking Thanksgiving week off, Rayality TV re-appeared on December 5th. Installment 33 features the story of "Misty" and a performance of the classic. If you're familiar with Ray's in-concert performance of the song you'll be used to Ray's slipping in a slow passage of the song amidst the usual uptempo delivery. I don't know exactly when he began to incorporate a piece of the slower rendition of "Misty" into his concert performances but I've been familiar with this blended tempo performance for nearly 20 years and so he's performed the song in this manner at least since the mid 1990s. In the original 1975 recording, of course, it's one full uptempo performance.