April 20, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry Eleven...

Hello all...it's a very early Monday morning but I felt like getting the week started with a blog entry featuring some updates on the current music video from Ray Stevens, "Taylor Swift is Stalking Me". As of this moment the video's gotten 136,300 unique views...this is a pick-up of 9,737 additional discoveries since my previous posting of the numbers. 

As I mentioned in my previous blog post Ray performed the song at the Opry this past Saturday night along with "Hearts Made of Stone" (it's the second time he performed the Taylor song). Each of those songs are on his current comedy CD, Here We Go Again!, and that particular release can be purchased through various on-line stores such as AMAZON. That link takes you to the CD's product page.

In the meantime how many people out there have a lot of Ray Stevens in your personal collections? I have a lot of his songs in one format or another (LP's, 45's, cassettes, CD's, and Mp3) and I've got several magazines that either have articles about him or feature interviews with him...some of those magazines have Ray on the cover which is an added plus. I have VHS tapes and DVDs of his music videos and I have some of his television appearances from The Nashville Network on VHS (appearances from the mid-late 1990s). A long held desire of mine had been to gain possession of every television appearance/performance Ray Stevens ever did. That happened to be a goal of mine during my teen years...as I've long since been an adult I've realized such a goal is highly unobtainable but at least I can say I have all of Ray's studio albums in one format or another. Starting with the release of 1,837 Seconds of Humor in 1962 and ending, for the moment, with the 2015 release of Here We Go Again!.

The one format that I don't have any of Ray's songs is 8-track...I don't even have any 8-track cartridges anymore nor do I possess an 8-track player. I've posted about 8-tracks before and the nostalgia factor that accompanies them but I don't think I'd enjoy listening to an 8-track nowadays...a lot of the ones my grandparent's had featured songs broken in multiple parts (lots of fade in and fade outs). I've become too accustomed to hearing songs in their entirety with no interruption...there's also the fact that an 8-track can malfunction easier than a cassette. 

Any mechanism that has a reel of tape is vulnerable to technical glitches but through experience the 8-track seemed to be more vulnerable to the reel of tape being ate...and pulling an 8-track out of it's slot after something like that happens can damage the actual player. In the meantime check out Here We Go Again! from Ray Stevens...the latest offering from the Clown Prince of Country Music...

April 19, 2015

Ray Stevens: April 18th Opry re-cap...

Hello once more...as promised in my previous blog entry here's a brief re-cap of the Ray Stevens guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry yesterday evening. In my blog entry from yesterday I erroneously stated that the Opry's host during Ray's appearance was going to be Jim Ed Brown. Unless I had been thinking of him earlier in the day or happened to see a picture of him, or, had actually seen his name listed in close proximity to Ray's I never would've posted the wrong information but something told my brain to type Jim Ed and that's what I happened to do but in actuality the host of the Opry segment that Ray appeared on happened to be the family group, The Whites. The half hour segment featured songs by them and a couple of songs by a gospel artist named Chris August...and then it came time for Ray Stevens!

Ray came out and spoke about his current Here We Go Again! comedy CD. He mentioned that his previous guest appearance at the Opry took place only a couple of weeks ago and that he performed a certain song that night...and due to demand he performed it once more...the song being "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me". He followed-up the performance with "Hearts Made of Stone" (!).
The live performance doesn't have the echo effect that the studio recording has and I was completely surprised that he chose that particular song to spotlight considering some of the other songs on the CD have more of a country flavor but I'm glad he performed the song, though. At least I can say I heard him perform the song in case he never performs it again. In case you missed the April 18th performance you can check the Opry's Archive page. At the moment the page is updated through April 14th (this past Tuesday Night Opry broadcast). You'll have to periodically keep checking the Opry Archive Page to see when they upload the April 18th broadcast. I'll also do the same and of course I'll post a link to the April 18th broadcast in a future blog post. Remember, though, the link I'll be posting in a future blog is for the complete broadcast...it isn't going to be a link to only the segment Ray Stevens appears on. The first segment is hosted by Jeannie Seely. 

April 18, 2015

Ray Stevens: April 18th...Opry Guest Appearance...

Good late afternoon, early evening!! Ray Stevens is scheduled to make a guest appearance on the Opry tonight at 7:30pm Central, 8:30pm Eastern. This is a rather quick follow-up guest appearance for Ray...he appeared on the Opry last month (in a segment hosted by Larry Gatlin) and performed his current hit, "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me", for the first time.

On tonight's Opry Ray is going to appear in the segment hosted by Jim Ed Brown. He may perform the Taylor song again or he may spotlight something completely different. You can listen to the Opry performance by clicking HERE and then clicking the appropriate listening options once the page opens. I'll post a re-cap either later tonight or tomorrow about Ray's Opry segment.

The music video for Ray's current hit has obtained 134,093 unique views so far.

I came across a recent interview of Ray Stevens...this one appeared on YouTube today and it's conducted by an interviewer named Rabbi Sol Solomon. It appears as part of an internet series called Dave's Gone By. You can hear the interview HERE. I happened to like it...Ray gets a lot of time to discuss various aspects of his career and those he's worked with in the music industry. Near the end the host brings up Ray's 9-CD box set, The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. Some of the other subjects discussed include his current CD, Here We Go Again!, the Ray Stevens' Nashville memoir, political comedy, and the dramatic changes in the music industry and the impact of social media.

April 12, 2015

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry 10...

Hello one and all...I'm back! Since the completion of my previous blog entry baseball season has started and the onslaught of rain and severe weather has prevented me from making too many detailed blogs (for the fear the electric going out in the middle of typing). Also, I'm trying to get used to these new eye glasses...they're not as comfortable as my other pair...I've actually been wearing the other pair more than the new ones.

In addition to that I deliberately wanted the blog entry about the negative impact that the healthcare law has had on my insurance coverage to be the first blog entry visitors see if they happen to access this page via it's main link.

The current music video from Ray Stevens, "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me", has had an increase in discoveries since my previous blog entry on April 5th...jumping from 115,889 to 126,563...a pickup of 10,674 unique views (for those keeping track). As you can see I posted/embedded the music video at the top of the blog entry. The video debuted on February 24th and so you can see that it's fast approaching 2 months of on-line availability...13 days to go.

The song itself can be found on his current CD, Here We Go Again!. The CD can be purchased on-line practically everywhere. Here's a link to the AMAZON product page. Once there you can either purchase the CD or search for the Mp3 copy if that's your personal preferred purchase choice. The CD became available for pre-order in February...it's official release happened on March 23. Since the time of it's release it's appeared on Billboard's Top Comedy Albums chart...debuting in the April 11th edition among the Top-10 best selling comedy releases that week. I looked on Billboard's on-line site a couple of days ago and unfortunately the CD isn't in the Top-10 for the week ending April 18th. It and another comedy project fell off to make room for a couple of debuts.

One of the drawbacks to having a 10 position sales chart is once you have the big opening week sales performance a CD usually settles into it's average sales pace and if it's not among the 10 releases in the comedy genre to sell a certain amount in a given week then it doesn't rank among the top-10 (regardless of any additional sales it obtained). Some of the CD's listed on the comedy survey have been charted for more than 1 year (!). Having said that I don't know if total weeks indicate consecutive or non-consecutive. Considering it's a 10 position chart the turnover rate is astronomical and so I'd guess and say the total number of chart weeks for the CD's on the Top Comedy Albums chart indicate non-consecutive totals. If anybody has any information you can post a comment. In my settings I have it designed so that I can read submitted comments before they're posted. So, if you submit something and I feel that it comes across cohesive and on topic I'll publish those kinds of comments. I don't publish comments that offer links and I definitely refuse to publish any comment that speaks negative toward Ray Stevens.

I may have posted this already but this is the CD of Here We Go Again! that I ordered from Amazon. I call it the non-autographed copy. I have a copy that I received in the mail a couple of days before the CD went on sale...it has an autograph by Ray Stevens and a note above his autograph personally thanking me. Also, it goes without saying, but I hope you all watch his latest music video from start to finish. It has a nice shot of Ray at the video's close standing inside his recording studio, grinning, and displaying disbelief that he put together a music video like that (an example of self-deprecation). As I mentioned earlier the music video's approaching it's 2 month 'anniversary' and it's anybody's guess if there's going to be a follow-up music video or not. I hope there's going to be some additional music videos...but marketing is going to be key in my opinion. I still believe that the song, "A Handshake Will Do", has music video written all over it. The kinds of sight gags that could be inserted into a visual production is too irresistible to by-pass. "You Didn't Build That" is another song that, if I happened to be making the decisions, I'd find too tempting to pass up. I hope either or both of those songs become music videos at some point this year. 

April 5, 2015

Ray Stevens: If You Like Your Plan nearing 90,000 views...

Yes, oh yes, it's me once more! It may seem like an eternity but it's only been half a year (!) since I've blogged much about a certain music video from Ray Stevens titled "If You Like Your Plan".

On a personal note my healthcare provider, starting in January 2015, had implemented an out of pocket deductible. In years past I never had to meet any kind of out of pocket deductible in order for my insurance to pay on my prescriptions. However, thanks to Obamacare, I now have to meet a deductible (for individual coverage) and it's already set at a specific amount. It's in the $1,500 range! Some may wonder what my complaint is...it looks like a cheap deductible on the surface, yes?

My prescriptions are through mail-order and they're of the 90-day supply and so I only have to re-fill three to four times a year because each re-fill lasts roughly 3 months. Since there's 12 months in a calendar year and because they've added an out of pocket deductible to my plan I'd pay, in total, a little more than $600 a year...that isn't nowhere near the deductible amount, right?

So, in my situation, I'd be paying for my prescriptions out of pocket all the time because I'd never meet the health insurance's deductible in a calendar year.

Thank you Obama...my healthcare plan changed and I had no say in it whatsoever!!

In one of my last blog entries containing a mention of the music video (from October 2014) it had vaulted past the 30,000 unique view total. The video has continued to find audiences over the last 5 and a half months and currently it's been seen by 88,225 people. This is, of course, a pick-up of more than 50,000 unique views over the course of half a year...

A couple of things to keep in mind is that it had been Ray's first politically-driven comedy music video in more than half a year and so a lot of momentum had cooled down considerably.

"If You Like Your Plan" came from out of nowhere on September 22, 2014...but I find it a timely message...

His previous politically driven music video had been the tale of how "Grandpa Voted Democrat" on November 3, 2012 and so it had been closer to 2 full years between the release of that music video and "If You Like Your Plan" in September 2014.

"Grandpa Voted Democrat", still being discovered, has gotten 602,543 unique views so far.

One of the things that I continue to believe is the reason for "If You Like Your Plan" not reaching the 100,000 level is the lack of strong social media publicity...the video came from out of nowhere but it had been nearly 2 years since the last political comedy video. So, yes, in terms of the internet and the immediacy factor the hiatus of nearly 2 years is an eternity.

He followed "If You Like Your Plan" with another music video, the amazing "Nero Fiddled", a video in which Ray appears with his back to the camera the entire time...sawing away on the fiddle as Rome burns. Photos of political figures in Congress and in entertainment and images of war-torn areas all over the globe appear throughout.

The song's lyrics are amazing, too, and it's a slice of heavy commentary criticizing the policy of the Obama Administration when it comes to the ay in which they prioritize certain issues. The main focus of the song is the criticism of Obama reacting in a lax manner during a time of urgency, for example, or reacting too quickly to a situation before thinking things through. The phrase "Rome burns" is used strictly as a metaphor and it's being used to compare rioting and other chaotic events that had taken place during Obama's time in the Oval Office.

The video's arrival on YouTube, less than a month after "If You Like Your Plan", could have cut into the publicity that the bouncy "If You Like Your Plan" may have enjoyed but in hindsight "Nero Fiddled" didn't exactly capture a large audience (compared to Ray's other music video releases).  It debuted on YouTube on October 10, 2014. It had only been something like a week and a half from the release of "If You Like Your Plan" in late September of 2014 before "Nero Fiddled" premiered.

By the latter half of 2014 Ray had moved on to promoting his gospel CD, titled Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Volume One; and his memoir, Ray Stevens' Nashville. He promoted these projects heavily and so "Nero Fiddled" didn't get much coverage and "If You Like Your Plan" faded a bit as a result of the heavier attention being focused on those 2 projects.

To date neither song has appeared on any CD...yet!  For the time being they're music video exclusives.

Ray may have another political CD on the horizon...but that's just my guess. On his current CD, Here We Go Again!, there's an Obama song on it called "You Didn't Build That". Oh how I'd love to see it transformed into a music video if only for added publicity of the CD! You can purchase the Mp3 single at Amazon by clicking HERE. It's track 9 on the 12 song CD.

For those that read this particular blog entry and don't feel like searching for "Nero Fiddled" or have never even heard of the song/music video until today then click the video embed and watch it...or listen to it...one or the other...

The video's gotten 34,285 unique views and that indicates, to me, that it may be a bit too strong for some but it's an awesome song and video in my opinion. It may have been too strong for social media publicity, too, because very little became of the video's existence after it's initial splash of unique views on debut day. The video begins with a disclaimer and believe it or not the inclusion of a disclaimer actually got some people in a frenzy early on.

I'd seen commentary (long since scrubbed and therefore no longer visible) that blasted Ray for even putting out a video requiring a Viewer Discretion disclaimer. Let me say that the people that have those kinds of comments, in my opinion, have no appreciation for Ray's creativeness or his multiple talents since they want him to limit his output to certain kinds of songs and to never offer anything different...but I'm a different kind of fan.

On this fan created blog page I celebrate all sides of Ray Stevens' career...I don't limit myself to maybe less than a handful of his recordings and ignore everything else he's recorded. So many others do that, though. I've always argued that if you only spotlight a couple of his songs over and over and over the general audience is going to assume that he's only had a couple of hit recordings...but he's placed more than 40 recordings on the charts but yet to focus on 3 or 4 of those 40+ hits does a huge disservice, I think.

His talent goes far beyond camel noises, affected voices, and Tarzan yells and I'm dedicated to making sure that the people that read my blog entries are made well aware of Ray's talents and his variety of music styles and perhaps learn a lot about Ray that they didn't know before coming across my blog page. Although I love his comical talents I also equally enjoy his non-comical recordings, too.

Ray Stevens: The Taylor Swift Music Video, entry 9...

Hello one and all! This Easter Sunday finds me updating this fan created blog page...my previous blog post arrived on March 29th, for those curious, and so it hasn't been a lengthy hiatus (only 5 days). During my 5 day hiatus Ray gave some interviews to some radio programs about his current CD and the music video that's helped promote the CD's availability but yet that isn't the biggest news surrounding the latest CD. I look for more announcements about the accomplishment to trickle out this week, though. It'll no doubt add to the publicity that the music video's already given the CD.

A couple of the radio interviews that Ray participated in included a call to a station in Mississippi billed as Super Talk during a shift hosted by an air personality called J.T. The program's title, The J.T. Show, has archives and those can be found HERE. Search for the April 2nd, first hour, audio link in his program's archive page. It's an illustration of live radio, too, because Ray had to push back his call-in until the last segment. According to the host Ray was suppose to be on earlier during the hour...but never fear, the host plays several Ray Stevens songs throughout to keep listeners enticed.

Secondly there's an interview conducted by Tom Gulley and you can listen to it HERE. In this interview, around the time the conversation glides into music videos, the phone connection goes out but Ray's quickly re-connected and goes about the interview describing the success that music videos have had in his career during the last 20+ years and how the creation of social media has enhanced his ability to reach audiences that otherwise may have never heard of him.

In the meantime the music video for "Taylor Swift is Stalkin' Me" grabbed an additional 12,196 people during the last several days to bring it's unique view total at the moment to 115,889.

For those that hadn't purchased his current CD, Here We Go Again!, you can do so HERE. It takes you to the Amazon product page.