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

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