December 15, 2016

Ray Stevens latest Christmas CD...

Hello all! It's hard to believe that it's only 10 days before Christmas...let me look at the calendar once again...and yes, it's December 15th...and I'm sure most of you are aware that Ray Stevens has a brand new Christmas CD out. The CD is titled Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me and just recently Ray uploaded a promo clip. It in Ray talks about the's not too long, though...36 seconds...

As Ray mentioned you can purchase your copy of the CD at his store. To get there you click this LINK. The link takes you to the product page for the CD. If you're not a member of his other words if you don't have an account with his store, you can register at his site for free and create your profile and account information.

Some of the excellent Christmas songs found on the CD are: "Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me", "Merry Christmas", "Claws (A Cat's Letter to Santa)", "Frosty the Snowman", his cover of Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You", and then there's "Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day".

December 12, 2016

Ray Stevens: Claws (A Cat's Letter to Santa)...

Hello one and all!!! It's been a couple weeks since my previous blog post. A lot of the time happened to be spent at my job. I work in an industry that ships packages/freight all over the globe and so during December, especially, the volume of packages increases a thousand percent and so I've been having to work 6 days a week...leaving me little time for on-line activity. As a result the time I do have at home is spent sleeping...with only half an hour or less available for the internet and so I visit Facebook and other social media sites and seek out anything about Ray Stevens that happens to be new. Peak season at my job should be over by the end of this week...but we shall the meantime...

I came across an article about one of the songs on Ray's current Christmas CD, Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me. The song's called "Claws (A Cat's Letter to Santa)" and I've mentioned it in some of my previous blog posts. The article I came across focuses on it's writers, Tommy Crawford and Taylor Craven, and the story behind the song. It also features comments from Ray, too. You can read the article by clicking this LINK. I echo the thoughts expressed in the article...I, too, hope the song becomes something of a Christmas standard in the same vein as other Christmas novelty songs. There isn't any YouTube music video of this song from Ray but I certainly hope he releases a video for it...the month of December isn't over...but, of course, you can purchase the Mp3 of "Claws (A Cat's Letter to Santa)" from Amazon by clicking HERE.

November 26, 2016

Ray Stevens: Mary and Joseph CD...My Review...

The current Christmas CD from Ray Stevens is wonderful!!! Ray offers us his third Christmas project (following the 1997 release of the all-comical Christmas Through a Different Window and 2009's all-serious Ray Stevens Christmas) and it contains a combination of uptempo, ballad, and comical performances. The title track, his current music video release on YouTube, tells the story of Mary and Joseph making their travels with their baby, Jesus, but from the point of view of the donkey. Not being too familiar with modern-day country music happenings I didn't realize the song had already been recorded by one of it's writers, Jeff Bates, and had been nick-named The Donkey Song. I hadn't heard the Jeff Bates recording but at some point I'll probably listen to it just to see if Ray gave it a different arrangement or whatever. The video's been getting a lot of reaction, so far, on YouTube. It's gotten 12,270 unique views since it's November 16th debut. I'll embed the video at the bottom of this review. There are a couple of Christmas standards on this project as there have been on the previous Christmas projects. This time around Ray provides his recordings of "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer". A couple of recordings previously only found on Ray's 9-CD box set from 2011, The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music, make appearances: "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" and his take on Elmo and Patsy's "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer".

In addition to the title track, "Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me", and some of the uptempo songs he also delivers ballads in the form of "Christmas Bells in the Steeple", "Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day", and "Merry Christmas". The latter a song that's been only available as a music video on YouTube for a couple of years; it marks it's debut on CD with this project. If you're not familiar with the song it calls out political correctness and attacks the belief held by some that saying "Merry Christmas" is somehow offensive and therefore people should only say the generic "happy holidays" or "season's greetings".

One of the songs that I hope doesn't go overlooked is his take on "All I Want for Christmas Is You" because not only is his performance of it so good it provides further evidence (if anybody needed any) that Ray can more or less take any song and make it sound as if he originated it. Yes, the song should be familiar to pop music listeners as it's the same song once recorded by Mariah Carey (she co-wrote it, too). Upon seeing the title of the song listed on the CD I at first thought it to be Ray's version of a Christmas staple by Vince Vance and the Valiants by the same name so I was completely surprised to hear him cover the Mariah Carey song.

Given Ray's reputation among the general audience as being a comical/novelty artist I suspect that the song that'll receive the most attention aside from the title track is "Claws (A Cat's Letter to Santa Claus)". In this performance Ray delivers the story of a cat that's been declawed by his owners, much to the cat's dismay, and the cat offers reasons for his need for claws.

It's a 10 song collection of Christmas songs and it's excellent!!! As you can see from the review I refer to it as a CD but yet it's an Mp3. It's a habit. I still refer to any kind of collection of songs as "albums", for example, even though I may actually be referring to a cassette, CD, or Mp3. The physical copy of the CD hasn't arrived in the mail yet. I purchased it digitally on Amazon, first, because I wanted to hear the songs on release day (back on November 14th) and I've since purchased the physical copy of the CD from the Ray Stevens on-line store at his official website located HERE. You will have to register, for free, and create a username and password and all of that prior to ordering on-line. Obviously I don't think you'll need to do all of that if you prefer to order over the phone.

November 16, 2016

Ray Stevens: Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me...

Hello once more!! For the last several hours the website, Taste of Country, had been the exclusive home to a brand new Ray Stevens video. I'd been busy most of the morning (away from the computer) and only found out about the video half an hour ago during a social media search. Apparently the exclusive window has elapsed and Ray has since uploaded it onto his YouTube channel. The video, which I seen on Taste of Country around noon today, is for "Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me". It's the title track of his brand new Christmas CD of which I made mention of in my previous blog entry. The video is cute and I'm sure it'll become an instant classic. Ray has as much fun with the puppets as you'll be having as you watch the clip. There are moments in the video which look like, to me, he's trying not to bust out laughing. The puppetry is pretty good...I'm sure puppet aficionados and fans of Jim Henson may cringe but, hey, it's a cute video clip. I'm pretty sure Ray isn't trying out for any vacant position on Sesame Street or enjoy the video clip in the spirit of which it's meant to be seen...

Buy your copy of the CD by clicking HERE.

November 13, 2016

Ray Stevens: Upcoming Christmas CD...

Hello one and all...this is going to be super short notice but an upcoming Christmas CD from Ray Stevens is expected to be released tomorrow (November 14th). It's a 10 song collection...7 of the recordings are exclusive to the CD while 3 of the recordings have previously been released. The previously released recordings are "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" and "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" (both recordings from the 2012 Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music) and "Merry Christmas" (originally released as a music video in 2012...first appearance on a CD collection).

The upcoming release is titled Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me. Ray's on-line store has it for sale already and it'll go on sale all over the internet on November 14th. Several days ago I did a music search for Ray Stevens and discovered this upcoming release but I never made mention of it on this blog because I knew very little about it. Ray hadn't even publicized it's upcoming release, either, and so I decided I'd better keep my discovery to myself just in case the release appeared on-line prematurely (such things are known to happen). Amazon's Mp3 store is the place I discovered the project, by the way. The CD's title track comes from the pen of country music artist Jeff Bates. I didn't know this until another Ray Stevens fan pointed it out. There is audio/video of Jeff performing the song but I've deliberately kept myself from viewing it. I want to discover the song through the Ray Stevens recording and then later I'll take a listen to the recording by it's writer.

So, then, just what exactly are the 10 songs on this CD? I've already listed 4 of them (the 3 from 2012 and the previously unreleased title track). The remaining 6 recordings are: "Frosty the Snowman", "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", "All I Want for Christmas Is You", "Christmas Bells (In the Steeple)", "Claws (A Cat's Letter to Santa)", and "Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day". Isn't that cover photo lovely? It's a scene perfect for a Christmas card, and speaking of which, if you order the CD from Ray's on-line music store you'll receive a Christmas card as a free gift. The card spotlights the cover of the CD. I did some research on some of the recordings and I found out that track 9 had been published by Ray's company and previously recorded in the early '60s by Brenda Lee. Much in the way you can seek out the Jeff Bates recording of "Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me", also known as The Donkey Song, you can also find the Brenda Lee recording of "Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day". The awesome thing about this is the fact that Ray published the song but had never recorded it until now. If you happen to have the Brenda Lee recording then you've already been aware for years that Ray's Ahab Music Company published it. It's something I happened to just find out during my research several days ago. For clarification: Ray's main publishing company (he has several) hasn't been called Ahab Music Company since the late '70s. He changed it to Ray Stevens Music, the name it continues to operate under, but songs that originated prior to the change in name have to remain under their original publishing credits. If you see any song credited to Ahab Music Company then those publishing credits occurred prior to 1978. In addition Ray has several record labels. Clyde Records is the main one but lately he's been using the CabaRay Entertainment imprint.

The songs, in order, are: "Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me", "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", "Frosty the Snowman", "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth", "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer", "Claws (A Cat's Letter to Santa)", "All I Want for Christmas is You", "Merry Christmas", "Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day", and "Christmas Bells (In the Steeple)".

You can purchase your copy of Ray's latest CD by clicking HERE.

November 7, 2016

Ray Stevens: Chuckles and Chortles from the Political Portal...

Oh it's me once again!! Yes, this is November 7th...not exactly "election eve" this early in the morning...but the build up to Election Day 2016 should get into full swing later this afternoon/evening. I title this blog entry for the upcoming Election Day tomorrow (November 8th) but there have been millions of people casting ballots for several weeks thanks to early voting. The one and only Ray Stevens cast his vote early.

For those that hadn't been paying too much attention on all things politics there's definitely been a shift in opinion polls. Clinton doesn't exactly have a commanding lead anymore but...

Disturbing could be the best adjective or baffling could be another but the national sampling of likely voters continues to have Clinton leading by a couple percentage points. It's baffling considering the unethical baggage she and her spouse, Bill, carry around from 30+ years in public office and it's disturbing that there are people out there that apparently are going to turn a blind eye to the scandal-plagued Clinton's and vote them back into the White House.

Yes, I choose to use the word "them" because it'll be a third term for the Clinton's. Yeah, I know it isn't technically a third term since it's Hillary as the candidate but come on, it's Bill and Hillary, or, Hillary and Bill, or Billery as they were referred to in the early years of the's a third term regardless.

The topic of voter fraud/voter suppression is often a hot topic and even though it's not entirely likely voter fraud issues are going to play a part in this election cycle it's something that shouldn't be pushed to the side as something that couldn't happen. The action to silence those that bring up the very real issue of election antics is something else that I'd like to comment on. Nationally there's been a big ordeal made concerning Trump's consistent arguments about there being a "rigged system". He's under attack for reminding people to be aware of suspicious activity and report it to the people at the election site. Is there anything sinister about such an alert? I don't think so...but many election board officials think it incites suspicion in the election process, period.

Keeping within the same topic there's a certain YouTube video from Ray Stevens that has crossed into the million unique views stratosphere. "Grandpa Voted Democrat" has gotten 1,025,860 unique views so far and this meteoric rise is, of course, tied into this being election season. The video had been in a resurgence since "rigged system" became part of the election dialogue and on Sunday the video had gotten more than 995,000 views and so it more or less steam rolled into the 1,000,000 plateau rather strongly. 

In an effort to keep things in perspective, though, this YouTube video is 4 years old. Originally meant as a lead-in to the 2012 elections (the video debuted on YouTube on November 3, 2012) this video, as most of his other politically themed releases, have the ability to remain entertaining in spite of the content being topical and in the moment. This can be credited entirely to the natural gifts of Ray Stevens in crafting a song either through the lyrics or the arrangement or, in the case of video, his visual performance. The topicality of the songs seem to remain relevant in nearly any election cycle. The songs/videos that he's released about Obama can easily be applied to Hillary: It's a different person but it's the same unethical agenda. Also...let's not forget that Obama Care is crumbling, if only from a mathematics stand-point, but if Hillary's elected she'll keep it in place and "force it" to work.

From the 2014 election cycle comes this entertaining slice of political comedy, "If You Like Your Plan", as Obama's promises of everyone having health care in the private sector will not see any changes or spikes in premiums and deductibles as a result of Obama Care. Electing Hillary Clinton will most surely continue this path of health insurance destruction. Also not to be forgotten is the fact that the ones that drafted Obama Care in 2009 and the Congress that passed it into law on a party line vote in 2010 designed it to where the most negative aspects of the law wouldn't kick in until 2017...after Obama's vacated the White House and the next President steps in.

October 24, 2016

Ray Stevens: Late 1970s obscurities...

In this brief (?) blog entry I've decided to post an experimental collage I finished about 10 minutes ago. I've been consistently scouring the internet over the last couple of weeks in search of a free website that offers collage making opportunities. A site that I used to rely heavily upon has been off-line for the last several weeks with no signs of returning under a different name and so I've kind of been in a mini-state of upset given the fun I'd been having creating collages on a site that made the creating so easy and less technical. I came across another site and experimented a couple of times. One of those experiments focuses on the 3-CD collection of recordings issued on Ray Stevens back in 1995. The recordings found on those 3 CD's originated in the mid to late '70s during his all too brief stay at Warner Brothers Records (1976-1979).

The reason I've written at length about those recordings over the last 8 years is because of their lack of familiarity...even among fans of Ray (!)...and given the fact that the songs have never been properly respected, appreciated, or presented in any prestigious kind of fashion (aside from those 3 CD's in 1995) I feel it's my unofficial duty to every so often keep those recordings from remaining obscure. So, after that bit of information to set up the focus of this particular blog entry, it's that time again to celebrate the late 1970s obscurities from the highly entertaining Ray Stevens...

1995 3-CD Collection
The 3-CD set first emerged in cassette form in 1995 and for this devoted fan of Ray it was something like the discovery of buried treasure. Some of the readers/visitors of this fan-created blog page probably won't be able to truly understand the sense of shock, amazement, happiness and total feeling of euphoria on the day I came across these cassettes sitting there among some other Ray Stevens cassettes in the music section of the local Wal-Mart just asking for me to purchase them. CD counterparts of the cassettes had also become available but at that particular time in my life (1995) I hadn't yet graduated to a CD player from the cassette player (even though CD's had been available for purchase for nearly 10 years by then). I never purchased a CD player until some point in 1996 or 1997 (!!) and even then I continued to purchase cassette tapes rather than the more expensive CD's (unless something released on Ray happened to be available on CD-only). I didn't start to purchase CD's exclusively until, you guessed it, the point in which cassette tapes began disappearing from retail stores. The names of the cassettes are: Cornball, The Serious Side of Ray Stevens, and Do You Wanna Dance?. The collection goes a long way at spotlighting the various music styles and moods that Ray delivered on a series of studio albums in the late '70s in which each album is dramatically different from the other. Pop, Country, Rhythm and Blues, Comedy, and MOR Adult-Contemporary are all on display. At the time of those releases in 1995 only 2 recordings by Ray from his entire Warner Brothers era had continually appeared on dozens of compilation albums: 1976's "In the Mood" and 1979's "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow".

I remember being frustrated in the mid/late '90s as to the reason 2 songs from that time period continually appeared on compilation albums and yet he had several more hit songs for the label that routinely got overlooked and therefore continued to become unfamiliar to a latter-day fan base that had probably discovered Ray's music in the mid 1980s during his country comedy resurgence. Later on in the early 2000's I had began to wonder why the studio albums he recorded for Warner Brothers had never been fully restored onto CD, either. It's a mystery I'll probably never solve.

Some of the fans of Ray that I often socialize with on-line via social media pretty much share my conclusion that the label doesn't see any sort of profit or demand for the re-release in CD format of those late '70s studio albums and so why bother? I realize this is a minority opinion but I don't necessarily think you need a demand for something to get a re-issue. There are scores of CD/Mp3 projects available in which record companies (major, independent, domestic, and foreign) offer 2 albums on 1 CD of almost any vinyl album from any number of legendary performers...whether the vinyl album featured any hit songs or not doesn't come into the decision making because I've seen CD's of 2 albums on 1 collection featuring albums I'd never heard of even though I'd heard of the singer's. The goal, I thought, was to introduce recordings to music consumers that were born long after vinyl stopped being the dominant form of music distribution and to bring back recordings that in some cases hadn't been in print and had only been available on vinyl for decades.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: I wish any record company that specializes in re-issuing vinyl albums onto CD would take a look at the studio albums Ray Stevens recorded in the late '70s and get those songs in circulation again and introduce this music to his diverse fan base. I have all of these vinyl albums but I'd purchase CD copies in the blink of an eye if they became officially available...

1976: Just for the Record (features 10 songs; chart hits include "You Are So Beautiful" and "Honky Tonk Waltz"; Ray's debut album for the label and it's deliberately more country music sounding; although it being primarily a West Coast pop oriented label and not too heavily entrenched in country music it nevertheless took on country music artists in the late '70s with various degrees of success; this album features one of my all-time favorite Ray Stevens recordings, "Gimme a Smile" and then there's the otherworldly "OM" and the sing-a-long toe tapping "Country Licks"; although "In the Mood" is a 1976 release it happened to be a single-only release in December and reached it's peak in February 1977 and therefore it isn't part of this album).

1977: Feel the Music (features 10 songs; chart hits include "Dixie Hummingbird" and "Get Crazy with Me"; not heavily publicized/promoted by the label; his image doesn't even appear on the front of the album cover as it's title called for the illustration of a stereo speaker to demonstrate the literal meaning of feeling the music. Ray performed a couple of the songs found on this album on an episode of television's Pop! Goes the Country and then much later in the early '90s performed "Feel the Music" during a televised award's ceremony; Yes, at that point in time, I thought it happened to be a new song! That's how little I knew of Ray's catalog of music back then as at the time I only had a little less than half a dozen cassette tapes of his).

1978: There Is Something On Your Mind (features 8 songs; 3 of those 8 are medleys which combine brief performances of 3 songs a piece; no chart hits; it's a lovingly put together tribute to early rock music and his beloved Rhythm and Blues influences; Ray records his versions of "One Mint Julep", "Money Honey", "Talk to Me", the comical title track; and in the form of medleys he performs abbreviated versions of songs like "Shake a Hand", "Do You Wanna Dance?", "Since I Met You Baby", and "Sixty Minute Man"; On both the front and back of the album there are liner notes provided by Ray Stevens himself and he offers his feelings and opinions regarding the choices in songs that he selected to cover for the project; It's possibly the most obscure and rarest of his vinyl albums and there's long been information suggesting that the album had never even been released in America and that it only seen commercial release in Canada).

1978: Be Your Own Best Friend (features 9 songs; the title track is the only chart hit from the album; the album's songs feature an overall soothing, mellow feel; the album's photo with a tanned Ray Stevens in white tuxedo and black shirt, seated at a white table, with the stark white background could have some thinking he's relaxing inside the padded cell of a sanitarium given his reputation for nutty, comedy songs but this happened to be his fifth non-comedy album in a row going back to the release of 1975's Misty album; the choice of colors could also be a reflection of the reflective nature of the inspirational title track in which Ray encourages people to believe in themselves rather than striving for acceptance from others; the album features another self-help ode in the form of "With a Smile"...featuring a very soothing delivery, almost a lullaby whisper, to convey the message in the song; In the same soothing vein is "You're Magic" and he transforms the previously recorded "You've Got the Music Inside" of 1973, featuring a more harder vocalization the first time around, into a much more softer presentation to compliment the overall feel of this particular album; the album has it's share of uptempo songs: "Comeback" and "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right", in particular, and the glorious, grandiose opening track, "L'amour", is amazing; this album also features the ballad, "The Feeling's Not Right Again", which became the title of his next release).

1979: The Feeling's Not Right Again (this is largely a compilation album, not a traditional studio album, and it features 10 songs; it features one previously unreleased song and the success of that song happened to be the reason for this album's release in the first place; Ray's surprise hit in the early part of 1979, "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow", inspired the concept of this compilation album; the single-only release featured cover art on it's picture sleeve parodying Barry Manilow cover art from 1974 and so, for the 1979 compilation album, a song Ray recorded the previous year, "The Feeling's Not Right Again", became the title track of this 1979 project; the song's coincidental similarity in title of an earlier song recorded by Manilow called "Tryin' to Get the Feelin' Again" pretty much meant that the cover art for Ray's 1979 album should parody the cover art of Manilow's 1975 album, Tryin' to Get The Feeling; the 1979 album became the final project released by Warner Brothers on Ray Stevens until 1995).

Here's that experimental collage I made reference to at the top of this blog entry...I spotlight the back of those 1995 CD's. I have no idea where in the world those photo's of Ray came from that were featured on the back of the CD's...the information credits the photographers but I've never thought to look them up on the internet to see if they have any of their photo's on-line...

October 9, 2016

Ray Stevens CD Special...

Hello fans of Ray Stevens! I hope those that attended the Ray Stevens Charity Golf Classic over the last couple of days (October 7th and 8th) had a ball...yes, pun intended. A photo emerged on social media from Ray's concert at the Temple Hills country club. It appeared on Twitter from username, The Parkes Companies, on October 7th. The image is a bit blurry but it's definitely Ray Stevens.

Back on October 1st I came across a peculiar CD listed for sale on Amazon. The CD, titled Love Lifted Me, is from Ray Stevens. The reason I use the word, peculiar, is because the CD appeared from out of nowhere. At first I thought that the CD's appearance happened to be a mistake on Amazon's part because October 1st happened to be a Saturday...not typically the day of the week a CD is released to the public. Later on (several days later on October 5th specifically) a video clip emerged on Ray's YouTube channel promoting the CD's release. The CD is available for purchase on Amazon, as mentioned, and it's also available for purchase at Ray's web-store. It's released on his latest imprint, CabaRay Entertainment.

The video clip from Ray promotes a 3-CD special offer of gospel music. Ray Stevens Gospel Collection, Just a Closer Walk with Thee, and Love Lifted Me are being offered in a sale. As a bonus attraction there's to be a signed copy of a CD single of his recent video hit, "Dear America". There isn't any CD single available of the song anywhere's only available for purchase as an Mp3...but in this limited time offer you'll get a CD copy of the song autographed by Ray. The "Dear America" music video, by the way, has gotten 203,935 unique views to date.

As you'll see in the video clip there's something special about the Love Lifted Me collection. Ray explains the idea behind the collection in the video clip. The advertisement, as you'll see, was taped on the set of the #1 television program on RFD-TV, Ray Stevens' Nashville.

Some of the songs you'll hear on the 3 collections are "If Jesus is a Stranger", "The Preacher and the Bear", "Onward Christian Soldiers", "Something's Coming", "Rusty Old Halo", "This Ole House", and more!!

On the concert trail Ray is to appear at The Alabama Theatre on October 15th. You can click HERE to find out more information and purchase tickets.

September 25, 2016

Ray Stevens Charity Golf Classic...

Hello once again...thanks goes out to all of you Ray Stevens fans for helping make "Dear America" a viral video hit. The video's gotten more than 192,000 unique views. Specifically it's at 192,961. I've been keeping track of the video's numbers even though I hadn't posted a blog entry in several days but that bit of information goes without saying...but I decided to say it nonetheless.

On 9/11 the video had 155,332 unique views. It's obtained 37,629 over the last two weeks.

The focal point of this blog entry happens to be an upcoming event...the Ray Stevens Charity Golf Classic. The event is scheduled to take place over a two day period, October 7th and October 8th, at The Temple Hills Country Club in Franklin, Tennessee. Ray and special guests are going to put on a concert on October 7th and then, the following day, the 18-hole golf event is to take place. Ray's been a golf enthusiast for decades but I don't post much, if any, about his golf hobby because it's something he does in his personal/private life and obviously it has no relevance to his music career...until now, that is!

You'll have to register for the event. Given this is September 25th and the event takes place on the 7th and 8th of October I'd call the country club for specific details as far as tickets are concerned. There's a page providing a registration form and a list of donation options to choose from. The Silent Auction, Gala, and Entertainment hosted by Ray Stevens on October 7th is available for a $50.00 option (it's listed fourth from the bottom in the registration options list).

Again, I don't know anything about ticket situation and if the country club mails tickets or if registration to the event and paying on-line is enough to get you inside the country club next month. You can see the registration form by clicking this LINK. As mentioned, if you look through the registration options, you'll come across the section featuring Ray Stevens. I assume if you select that option you'll only be able to gain access to the country club for that particular event and once it's over you'll have to leave.

Anybody wanting to know much more in-detail information should call 1-615-646-4785. Once you call ask about the Ray Stevens concert that's to take place and how you'll be able to see the event. They're open today (Sunday) and so if you're seriously thinking of attending the event next month I'd call today and get ticket information as soon as possible.

September 19, 2016

Ray Stevens talks of "Dear America"...

Hello once again! In my usual effort to try and track down any goings-on in the career of Ray Stevens and place it here on my fan-created blog for you all to see I come across a link that happened to have been posted several days ago containing a call-in interview from Ray. The actual interview took place on September 9th (the Friday before 9/11) and so it's an in-the-moment reflection of the "Dear America" music video which had debuted on-line on September 6th. So, this interview takes place right in the middle of the video's impact (it had obtained more than 100,000 unique views in little time).

The program featuring Ray as one of the guests happened to be The Rusty Humphries Rebellion on the USA Radio Network.

I came across a link to the program on social media several days ago (via a site called Western Journalism) but I didn't click the link because the description happened to be vague. Thinking it to be a link to a story about the creation of "Dear America" highlighting the brief YouTube video clip of Ray in the studio singing and talking about the song's creation I thought that the article wouldn't be covering anything that I hadn't already shared with you and so I never bothered clicking the link. However...just out of curiosity I clicked the link about an hour ago and was surprised to learn that the link features something of a transcript of an interview Ray gave back on September 9th...not only a transcript, of sorts, but there also happens to be an audio clip available. The clip provided is a little more than 21 minutes in length and Ray's interview leads off the clip. The segment lasts a little more than 9 minutes followed by the playing of "Dear America". The playback volume featured in that particular audio clip on the Western Journalism site is kind of lo. Fortunately I did some searching and ventured to the official USA Network site and they have an audio clip of the entire program and it's volume is much better by comparison.

You can listen to the program by clicking HERE. Since it's the full program (49 minutes) it'll feature the other guests, too. Ray's portion of the program begins at the 22 minute, 31 second mark. Earlier I mentioned that the interview took place on September 9th. That's the date provided on the Western Journalism site...but yet the date provided on the USA Network site states it's from September 14th. This could be an example of date of interview verses the date it was posted on-line. The reason I say that is because at the start of the program the host makes mention of first guest, Ann Coulter, and remarks about the controversy from "a couple days ago". He's referring to a celebrity roast of Rob Lowe from September 5th...and so from that bit of information it's safe to assume that September 9th is the day of the broadcast featuring Ray Stevens.

The "Dear America" music video picked up 32,332 additional unique views during the last 8 days. On 9/11 the video had 155,248 unique views and at the moment the total is 187,580.

September 11, 2016

Ray Stevens featured on Rare Country...

Hello once's nearing the 12pm hour on this 15th anniversary of 9/11. A time line of events on that day is broken into specific detail on a variety of websites all over the internet. The first hijacked plane hit the North Toer of the World Trade Center at 8:46am Eastern; the second hijacked plane hit the South Toer of the World Trade Center at 9:03am Eastern; the third hijacked plane hit the Pentagon at 9:37am Eastern; and the fourth hijacked plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania at 10:03am Eastern. As I touched on in my previous blog entry the fourth plane crashed during a struggle that took place as several passengers attempted to subdue the hijackers.

A couple days ago, back on September 9th, a website called Rare Country published an article promoting Ray's current 9/11 remembrance, "Dear America". You can read that article by clicking HERE. It's a nice overview of the song and it's creation. The article includes an embed of the music video. As you read their article it includes some commentary from Ray about the video and the choice of delivering the song in an intimate setting rather than using a full-scale, grandiose presentation. This is the only article, so far, to include more of a detailed look at the song and offers additional commentary from Ray on the immediate success of the video.

There have been all sorts of on-line publicity for "Dear America"...several radio station websites have shared the video, too. It seems like most on-line sites, with the exception of The Boot, picked up on the video on September 9th. The Boot had the exclusive debut of the video on September 6th followed by it's debut on Ray's YouTube channel not long afterward. One of the recurring themes in most, if not all, of the articles being published about Ray concerning "Dear America" is the writer's surprise of him 'being serious'. A couple of the articles I came across lead off with their opinion that Ray's supposed to be a funny man and their hearing him being serious is "unusual".

Naturally this sort of astonished response comes from casual music listeners that maybe only know of Ray Stevens for comical, non-serious material or just know of his image and his name but don't really know much about his music or career but yet associate his name with comedy nevertheless. All of this reminds of late 2009, early so many people back then were startled to hear Ray singing a song called "We The People" via a YouTube music video. It startled many people because of their inability to come to the realization that 'funny man' Ray Stevens does have a serious, thought-provoking side which had been displayed on numerous recordings dating back to the '60s. It's funny, though, that 6 years later people are still baffled over the idea that Ray Stevens can be serious when he chooses to.

Never forget 9/11!

Ray Stevens and Patriotism...

Hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens! Today marks the 15th Anniversary of 9/11...the day in American history on September 11, 2001 in which terrorists, under the guidance and influence of Osama bin Laden, attacked our nation. Reportedly 19 hijackers took over a total of 4 airplanes...2 of those planes crashed into the World Trade Center...1 plane crashed into a section of the Pentagon...and a third, reportedly headed toward Washington, D.C. and presumably the White House or the U.S. Capitol, crashed in a field in a rural area of Pennsylvania. That particular crash happened as a result of several passengers and flight crew planning to overtake the hijackers. Phone messages from passengers to friends and family and the flight voice recorders indicate such a plan taking shape. In the struggle with the 4 armed terrorists on-board the plane crashed into the field. Recordings indicate that the passengers had hoped, should the plane crash, that it would do so prior to it's intended target.

A couple months ago I posted a blog entry about the various military songs from Ray Stevens as a celebration of Independence Day. Those that have been long time visitors of this fan-created blog should be very familiar with the music of Ray Stevens and his career. If you've never seen this blog before you can search the Archive section over on the right hand side of the page and browse through my various blog entries about Ray Stevens. This blog dates back to 2008!

Ray's initial music contribution to 9/11 happened back in 2001. Late in 2001 Ray emerged with the single, "Osama Yo' Mama". The song, released originally as a single-only backed with "Hello Mama", became a popular hit. In country music it managed to rise into the airplay-driven Top-50 but country radio station programmers, at some point, must have had a change of heart concerning the song and it all but vanished from playlists. Ironically the single remained a top seller for half a year (into the summer of 2002). In the early part of 2002 a music video of the song emerged as did a full length CD from Curb Records (his first project released through Curb Records since 1996). The album featured the same cover art as the CD single and to distinguish the single release from the full length CD of music the phrase The Album was superimposed behind the illustration of Ray as Uncle seen below...

Later, in 2004, Ray released the all-serious CD, Thank You. The song has an emotional music video. It's on Ray's YouTube channel. Thank You came along, if my memory serves me correctly, as a result of the emergence of anti-America sentiment and anti-Military protests from American citizens. In the 3 years since 9/11 there had been this simmering anger by a loud, vocal minority of American citizens over America's military presence all over the Middle East and in their minds the War on Terror had shifted from going after Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban (those responsible and those that harbored the 9/11 hijackers) and had spread into Iraq, Iran, and other places. In essence the conflict, as critics seen it, expanded to include ANY country that supported terrorism and anti-American culture.

However, instead of going over material I covered a couple of months ago in the Independence Day edition of my blog, this particular blog entry, for the most part, is my attempt to set the record straight about a certain accusation that comes up every time there's a remembrance of 9/11. The accusation is profiting. There are perhaps hundreds of thousands of people that see any kind of remembrance/memorial of 9/11 as a potential to "profit off tragedy". Such claims are usually unfounded but emotionally charged nevertheless. There have been several on-line accusations made, ever since the Ray Stevens "Dear America" music video made it's debut on September 6th, that the song is an "awful display of profiting off a tragedy" or "just in time for 9/11, it's time to cash-in on a tragedy". I'm not making those remarks up. You can find such ignorant comments and more like those if you visit YouTube or other on-line pages that have embedded the video.  As I've remarked for years that's the reason I don't provide links to YouTube music videos and I prefer to embed them on my blog page instead. I don't want to provide a link to any video that features or has the potential to feature combative, vile comments.

Now, of course, those kinds of comments from faceless critics on the internet I referenced are laced with ignorance but they're also designed to vilify an innocent figure (Ray Stevens) and use the emotions tied to 9/11 to support their argument. I briefly touched on this in my previous blog entry. I think I referred to those that do not like "Dear America" as bitter, cynical, ungrateful "woe is me" losers.

Hundreds of thousands of people have clicked the video, though. In my previous blog entry I posted that "Dear America" had gotten 103,932 unique views. I checked the totals a couple of minutes ago and the video's at 155,248. That's a pickup of 51,316 additional unique views. It's sure to hit the 200,000 mark and rise even higher as the days go by. The more exposure the song gets the more people are reminded to never forget 9/11. 

Click this Dear America link to purchase the Mp3 from Amazon. It's been released on Ray's own label, CabaRay Entertainment. There has not been any information released as to when a full length CD of songs is to be released. I'm guessing that the CD is going to be named after the "Dear America" single and have this be the cover art. At the moment this is, of course, the photo publicizing the single...

September 9, 2016

Ray Stevens: Dear America...A Viral Video Sensation...

Hello one and all!! Hopefully those of you that call yourselves fans of Ray Stevens have taken a moment to either purchase the Mp3 of "Dear America" or have visited YouTube and watched the music video. Posted onto YouTube just 2 days ago it's already generated 103,932 unique views. That number is bound to rise as the days go by. The Boot, Country Rebel, and Wide Open Country have shared the video...helping it reach outside the Ray Stevens fan-base. In so doing the video's also attracted, believe it or not, vicious contempt and anger from those not too happy about America's ideals and it's role in the world, in general, and they apparently are appalled at pro-America sentiment and reflections of 9/11. Such hostility is bad enough but some go even farther by injecting racism into the equation. You can read the vile commentary in the comments section of those sites I made mention of.

If you visit any or all of those sites be sure to search for Ray Stevens, of course. "Dear America" should be the top search result. I'm not reprinting the vile comments here...but they're available for all to see at those sites or you can stop by Ray's Facebook page. The comments made at a couple of those sites are automatically copied to Ray's main Facebook page. It's a shame and a disgrace that there are people out there in this country that hate it so much but, of course, they're reaping the benefits and the freedoms our country provides. Those people that do not like this song are a bunch of bitter, cynical, ungrateful, "woe is me" losers. For those that love the song and it's it is once more...

September 6, 2016

Ray Stevens: Dear America music video....

Hello one and all!!! Today's the day that the brand new song from Ray Stevens becomes available for purchase!!! Like a kid on Christmas morning is the description of my excitement over finally being able to purchase the Mp3 of "Dear America" over on AMAZON this morning!!

Mp3 on Sale Now!!
The music video has just been released, too. It hit the internet literally minutes before I began putting together this blog entry. A country music site called The Boot had the exclusive premiere of the music video and here's a link to their REPORT. The website is one of the few mainstream country music sites that embrace established, legendary performers along side the contemporary country artists of today and The Boot, more than any other, offers articles about Ray Stevens.

A couple minutes after the video made it's exclusive premiere on The Boot, it went live on YouTube! I'm embedding the video here...

I usually don't embed the video's that big but I tried to embed it at a smaller size but it looked too much like a CinemaScope presentation. The appearance above is the best looking embed I could come up with and so that's the one I'm sticking with. I trimmed the video screen measurements found in the embed code from YouTube's default 560 width x 315 height to 455 x 265. I hope you all love the music video as much as I do...and love the song as much as I do!! 

September 5, 2016

Dear America by Ray Stevens...

A quick question to all of you devout fans of Ray Stevens (of which I include myself, too)...can you contain the excitement?? I can't! One more day to go and the upcoming single from Ray Stevens, "Dear America", hits the on-line music stores!! Up until now there's only been the YouTube teaser featuring a snippet of the song and some details about it's creation...but all of this changes tomorrow, September 6th, for it is on this day that the Mp3 download of "Dear America" becomes available for purchase!! Here's that image of Ray once more...
Available September 6, 2016
I'm the one that added that caption underneath the aren't going to see that personal touch anywhere else...and so if you come across this image and see the availability date posted underneath then you'll know that other people on the internet found the image right here on this fan-created blog page. As soon as I purchase "Dear America" tomorrow from Amazon's Mp3 Store I'll, of course, be listening to it several times and then make my official commentary/review of the song on this blog page and then I'll copy/paste my review over onto Amazon's page.

For those of you that hadn't seen the Behind the Scenes teaser video clip currently posted on YouTube here it is...

The single is being released through a brand new imprint, CabaRay Entertainment. This imprint/label is named after Ray's upcoming CabaRay complex...set to open in 2017...a massive entertainment complex which is going to consist of recording studios for audio, television, and video productions and a performance venue for live concerts. So it's almost like a Ray Stevens Universe all under one roof.

I'm sure there's also going to be space reserved for a gift shop, too. I live multiple states away from Tennessee so it's unlikely I'd ever be able to visit the place in person but I'd love to go there...and should the place also contain a gift shop I'd no doubt spend some time in there searching for souvenirs exclusive to the venue.

In the time machine we visit 1976...a sort of hectic year for Ray Stevens. This is the year that seen several changes...the first happened to be the change in record labels. After a lengthy and highly successful run on the Barnaby Records label (1970-1976; a label owned by Andy Williams), Ray moved to the much more mainstream Warner Brothers label following the release of the non-charting single, "Mockingbird Hill", officially the fourth single release from his 1975 Misty album (following "Misty", "Indian Love Call", and "Young Love"). Ray's interpretation of "Mockingbird Hill" is very good and the performance is catchy and memorable once you hear it. My guess is the publicity department at Barnaby Records didn't care to promote the single (given it being Ray's last for the company) and obviously the personnel at Ray's new home, Warner Brothers, weren't about to promote a song on a competing record it more or less didn't have a chance. So why release it in the first place if Barnaby knew going in that Ray was headed for a different label!? Maybe Ray as under contract for one final single release? That's a pretty common occurrence in the music business.

Unfortunately Warner Brothers, at that time, had very little impact or interest in seriously publicizing the artists on their country music roster. Country music legend Buck Owens found this out, too, once he joined the label right around the same time after a lengthy and iconic run with Capitol Records. Having said that, in Ray's case, he did enjoy some success in 1976 after moving to Warner Brothers...largely because the label's publicity department did their job promoting his music. The same couldn't be said for the next couple of years, though, as his single releases hardly gained any notice at radio. It's a shame, too, because if you have the music Ray issued during that time period on Warner Brothers (as I do) you'll be dumbfounded as to how this great music failed to click with listeners and why it's become so overlooked and under-appreciated in the decades that have passed. After the single release on Barnaby of "Mockingbird Hill", Ray issued two singles from his Just for the Record Warner Brothers debut album: "You Are So Beautiful" and "Honky Tonk Waltz". Neither single hit the Hot 100 Pop chart but they both hit the Top-40 of the Country chart...but then, during December 1976, Warner Brothers issued "In the Mood"...a single from Ray in which he chicken clucks the entire performance of the Glen Miller instrumental classic.

Issued as a single-only and released under the pseudonym The Henhouse Five Plus Too the novelty single became a hit recording in the blink of an eye. The single spent several weeks on the Hot 100 and the Country music chart early in 1977 (entering the Top-40 of both charts). In the United Kingdom the single was issued under Ray's name instead of it being issued under the chicken group pseudonym. It became a novelty hit in the United Kingdom, too, as well as in Canada. Even though the various chart placements for this hit didn't rate as high as the chart peaks of "You Are So Beautiful" and "Honky Tonk Waltz", this chicken clucking novelty became one of his best-remembered songs recorded during his Warner Brothers stay. A lot of that, obviously, has to do with the sheer bizarre nature of the recording and the fact that it had international impact, as unbelievable as that seems to those that "take their music seriously". In Ray's memoir, Ray Stevens' Nashville, he remarked that the recording has long since become rise and shine music for many low watt, rural AM radio stations.

September 2, 2016

Ray Stevens...Dear America...

Hello once more!! As the calendar hits September the one and only Ray Stevens has offered a look into his next music project. No doubt a lot of you may have already seen the advertisements on his Facebook page and on other social media sites but, of course, I want to hype and promote the upcoming single release, too. This blog entry centers around a song entitled "Dear America". Ray uploaded a brief clip of himself performing a part of the song and that clip is located below...

Although we're hearing only a brief clip it's a safe bet to predict that the entire song is just as compelling. As soon as I heard of this release and seen that publicity photo of Ray highlighting "Dear America" I wanted to start doing cartwheels and black-flips but I realized that would look rather silly and physically impossible and so I'll contain my excitement to the written word. There hasn't been any information beyond the single's release date. The song is only going to be available as a digital download. I imagine a physical CD of songs is going to hit the market and I'm assuming that photo of Ray featured in the video clip is going to be used as the CD's cover...but for now it's being used as a promo picture for "Dear America".

As seen in the video clip you'll be able to purchase the song this coming Tuesday September 6th. I prefer Amazon and so I'm posting this LINK to the product page. At the moment you can pre-order the single. It sells for 99 cents. I'm going to wait until Tuesday to make my purchase but you all can pre-order if you choose to. Ray posted a larger image of the publicity photo for the "Dear America" song and I know the fans of Ray Stevens are going to love seeing here it is in all of it's glory...

Available September 6, 2016

August 14, 2016

Ray Stevens heading to Effingham, IL...

Hello all fans of Ray Stevens!! I've been off-line for awhile due to a change in modems and busy off-line activity. I've gone from a traditional plug-in modem to a wireless modem. I've been on a laptop for nearly 3 years (graduating from a desktop computer) and only recently decided to "go wireless". It took a couple days to get everything up and running due to some unexpected technical issues but everything's working just as before. If you've visited YouTube in the last couple of days you've probably seen some additional video uploads about Ray Stevens. Someone by the name of Suzanne Wright posted video content onto YouTube. I'm assuming it's from the Oklahoma concert back on August 12th. At the moment there's no specifics given of when the performance took place.

I made mention of that Oklahoma concert in a previous blog post and from the looks of the video thousands of people attended.

An upcoming concert in Effingham, IL at the Effingham Performance Center (set to take place in 2 months on October 28th) is being promoted on YouTube. A video promo became available a couple of days ago and I'm embedding it here...

I know that this video, more than likely, is going to be removed once the concert has taken place but for the next 2 months it'll be on-line for all to see. Future discoveries of this blog entry may see a familiar "video not available" or "video removed" alert. The video promo highlights several music video snippets from his direct-to-VHS movie, Get Serious!, as information about the upcoming Effingham concert flashes on the screen. You can read about the concert and purchase concert tickets by visiting the venue's site by clicking HERE. The venue makes use of his most recent CD...once you click the link you'll see what I mean.

Earlier that same month (October 15th) Ray Stevens is to appear in Myrtle Beach, SC at The Alabama Theatre. You can read information and purchase tickets by clicking HERE. Once you click the link you'll see that the venue is using his photo from the first volume of gospel songs (released back in 2014).

July 24, 2016

Ray Stevens Nashville...Number 1 on RFD-TV...

Hello all of you fans of Ray Stevens!! I'm sure by now you've heard the great news that Ray's television program, Ray Stevens' Nashville, is RFD-TV's #1 program. This bit of news came out slowly the latter half of this past week but several on-line sites, including those ran by country music radio stations, have since added it to their news sections. Ray's program debuted on the satellite and cable channel this past November in the 8:30pm Eastern time slot on Saturday night. The series continues to air in this time slot and it airs repeats a couple times during the week. The series is in it's second season of programs. I mention it in that manner because it, like almost all of the other original programs on RFD-TV, have 13-episode production cycles and this is vastly different from the routine production cycles of programs that exist on broadcast television. In broadcast television 26 consecutive first-run episodes ordinarily make up a television season. Those 26 episodes get re-ran in the spring and summer months to total a 52 week calendar year. The programs that air on RFD-TV tend to have 13 first-run episodes per 'season', then there's a re-run period, totaling 26 air-dates. Then 13 additional first-run episodes air, billed as a new season even though it's technically the second half of the existing season, and those episodes then get re-ran. Altogether it adds up to the same 52 week time frame even though the manner in which the episodes make it to the air is vastly different. In broadcast television 26 first-run episodes (plus 26 re-runs) are considered one season but things are a bit different in the world of cable television. I guess by having the episodes airing in this fashion it cuts out the inevitable airing of 26 consecutive re-runs...and so, to eliminate that, the series appears to have a 13 first-run/13 re-run, 13 first-run/13 re-run production cycle.

Sorry to get so technical and confusing but I like to be detailed...

The series, as mentioned, debuted in November of 2015. The actual air-date for the debut is November 7th. Here is a list of episodes that have aired so far...I've listed them in chronological order and listed the guest artist...

1. Steve Wariner (debut episode; November 7, 2015)
2. Don Schlitz
3. Bobby Bare
4. Larry Gatlin
5. Charlie McCoy
6. Bobby Braddock
7. Suzy Bogguss (Christmas episode)
8. Jimmy Fortune
9. Aaron Tippin
10. John Conlee
11. Tanya Tucker and T.G. Sheppard
12. Darryl Worley and Lee Greenwood
13. Suzi Ragsdale and T. Graham Brown
14. Billy Dean
15. James Gregory; the Helen Highwater String Band
16. Bobby Goldsboro
17. Williams and Ree
18. The Bellamy Brothers
19. The Gatlin Brothers
20. Gene Watson
21. Collin Raye
22. Bill Anderson
23. Sylvia
24. Con Hunley
25. Leroy Van Dyke
26. Janie Fricke (this episode is scheduled to air July 30th)

Here's a LINK reporting about Ray's television series hitting #1...becoming the most-watched series among RFD-TV viewers.

July 11, 2016

Something's's Ray Stevens...

Yes, "Something's Coming" to a town near you and it's the one and only Ray Stevens. In a little more than a month from today there is to be a concert by Ray Stevens at the Chocktaw Casino in Pocola, Oklahoma. The concert gets underway at 8pm on August 12th. You can either visit the Casino's website by clicking HERE or by calling Ticket Master directly at 1-800-745-3000. Since it's taking place at a Casino there's strict rules about the audience and carry-in items. You have to 18 years of age or older and you can't bring in any kind of recording equipment. Also, given that it's a Casino performance and not a venue for a general audience of all age groups and less strict rules chances are the appearance isn't going to get much hype; but, if you're an adult and are in the area or are a fan of Ray's and decide you want to make the trip to Pocola, Oklahoma then click the link I embedded or call the number for tickets. The concert is just a little more than a month from today.

In the meantime do any of you have the latest CD from Ray Stevens? I purchased my copy almost a month ago. The CD, Just a Closer Walk with Thee/Gospel Favorites had it's release nearly a month ago on June 17th. If you follow his career as closely as I do then you'll be aware that there has not been any sort of publicity or campaign surrounding this CD...yet. It's a follow-up to his 2014 gospel collection. Back then most of the publicity fell on the shoulders of the Gaither company and various southern gospel outlets. Ray also made the rounds of various gospel television programs but so far there hasn't been the same kind of publicity for this particular CD...maybe you get the sense that I'm impatient...but I'm not. I'm merely anxious to see if Ray is going to promote the CD and perform some of these songs and create awareness for the CD's existence or if this is going to be a CD that gets lost in the shuffle of other projects. In my Amazon review of the CD I pointed out some of the songs that I hope get promoted as single releases. One of those is "Something's Coming". I like that melody and the message and it's a catchy song, too. You can purchase the song on Amazon by clicking HERE. I'd also encourage you, once you're at Amazon, visit the CD's main page...or you can visit it by clicking HERE. Also not to be overlooked is his version of "This Ole House"! This is a great gospel CD from the one and only Ray Stevens!

July 10, 2016

Ray Stevens and a Touch of Silver...

Can it be? It's been 25 years since the release of this comedy album from Ray Stevens? Technically the album hit the stores on June 18, 1991 but I've never actually celebrated album or song milestones on the exact dates...I've only concentrated on the year and that makes 2016 the Silver Anniversary of #1 With a Bullet. This particular release, on Curb/Capitol Records, features the standard 10 songs but the thing that makes this particular project a bit different is that none of the songs were written or co-written by Ray Stevens. Oh, it's definitely a Ray Stevens album to be sure. He's still the producer, arranger, and one of the session musicians (playing piano and synthesizer) but the album was pretty much written by Ray's longtime collaborator, Buddy Kalb (all but one song is credited to Buddy either as sole writer or co-writer). The album, overall, presents a pop-culture mixture of novelty songs...a theme not found on many of Ray's previous series of novelty albums. The first three tracks on the album use current trends for humor. The opener, "Power Tools", is a comical story about a Do-It-Yourself amateur enthralled with the concept of power tools to the point where he fails to realize that although a power tool can make a job go by faster the less you know about the specific tool the more dangerous power tools can be. America seemed to have a love affair with the Do-It-Yourself types...and I should point out that this album was released several months before ABC television debuted the sitcom, Home Improvement, starring Tim Allen.

Track 2 on this album, "Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens"...well, the title is a's a spoof of the animated series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which aired in traditional animated form in the late '80s and into the mid '90s. The turtles become a phenomenon launching movies, action figures, cereal, and comic books. In Ray's recording he sings of a chicken farm in Tennessee in which nuclear water leaked into a chicken coop. Once the eggs hatched the farmer discovered that the four chickens had extreme power and amazing self-defense skills. He named them appropriately: Fricassee, Cordon Blu, Cacciatory, and Stew. For track three the subject shifts to a current trend in country music by 1991 and it happened to be the Hat Act phenomena. "You Gotta Have a Hat" explores the fact that a lot of country music's mega-stars and sex symbols all wore Stetson hats. Ray sang about his plan to become a country music sex symbol by putting on a cowboy hat and driving around Nashville in a fancy car. It's a song that exaggerates the Hat Act trend and comically suggests that all you need to be a success in country music is to wear a hat. During concert performances of the song he'd add some visual comedy to the proceedings by pulling out a gigantic foam hat and wearing it during the performance.

"Tabloid News" is a frenetic performance detailing the big news making the headlines in the fictional National Supermarket Checkout Examiner. It's a funny song and one that gives Ray a lot of opportunity to spotlight his vocal talents and mimicry. Also a treat are the sound effects. "The Sheik of R and B" enables Ray to honor his love for classic rhythm and blues stylists and at the same time the title is a pun on the classic movie, The Sheik of Araby.

"Juanita and the Kids" debuted on this album...a lot of latter day fans of Ray Stevens, specifically those that discovered him by way of YouTube, may only be familiar with the music video. The video was first made available in 2000 and uploaded to YouTube in 2011 but the actual song goes back to this 1991 album. YouTube, obviously, has allowed Ray's catalog of recordings to live on in music video form. The song is about the IRS and in their zeal to audit a taxpayer and potentially collect some money fail to realize that this particular taxpayer has some mental issues...but more troubling is the fact that the IRS and other branches of the Federal Government issued his spouse and children social security cards and legal documents as a formality rather than realizing the kind of spouse and children he actually claims. If you hadn't heard the song I'm not going to mention the convoluted scenario any further. It's something you'll just have to hear for yourselves.

Something that was perhaps intentional or extremely coincidental is the fact that the album's final two songs make mention of Pearl Harbor and the Japanese. 1991 happened to be the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

In "A Little Blue-Haired Lady" Ray sings about the all too common situation of being behind a really slow driver...her maximum speed being 20 miles per hour on an Interstate. Midway through the song there's mention of Roosevelt and the Japanese Ambassador in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese official said that they tried to give warning but...well, you know...

In the closing performance there's the one song that Buddy Kalb didn't have a hand at writing: "Working For the Japanese". In this wonderful song Ray tackles the subject of economics and the trend in U.S. economics at the time. An argument is made that there's too much dependence on foreign products and it's causing America's jobs to be shipped overseas. It's a timeless message but the message often falls on deaf ears because 25 years later the result of foreign product manufacturing has virtually eliminated manual labor in the United States. The song's writer happens to be Ron DeLacy.

#1 With a Bullet got a re-issue on CD in 2005. A lot of on-line retail stores and information sites fail to mention that the CD has an original copyright of 1991 and that it originally was issued on cassette tape. The on-line sites make it appear as if the songs had been recorded in 2005 by not pointing out that the material is actually from 1991. I skipped over a couple of songs on this CD, if you're keeping count, because I didn't want the blog entry to become a more extremely lengthy overview than it already has.

July 3, 2016

Ray Stevens sings of America...

Hello to all the Ray Stevens fans out there. I hesitated, at first, to start my blog entry with one of the late Paul Harvey's catchphrases given this being 4th of July weekend but I didn't. Is it just me or does it feel a bit strange that a July 4th holiday falls on a seems more at home on a Saturday or even a Sunday. It falling on a Monday, of course, extends the weekend for some people but not everyone.

Did anyone catch Ray Stevens on the Grand Ole Opry this past week, either in person or over the radio? He made a guest appearance during the final half hour portion back on Wednesday (June 29th) and sang several songs...he sang "Misty", "Safe at Home", and "The Streak". I listened to it on the radio as I made my way to my workplace.

He posted a video clip of his appearance and it's on his Facebook page. It isn't on YouTube. You can see the appearance by clicking HERE. Make sure you click the X next to the image of the speaker. For some reason the clip automatically starts playing in mute. You'll have to click the X to open up the speaker in order to hear the audio. I say that because there's going to be some people out there that click the video and wonder why they can't hear anything and then assume something's wrong with the upload.

This is just me but I prefer the YouTube style of embedded video clips that don't automatically start playing once they came into screen view. I prefer a person having to click the play arrow before a video begins to play but on Facebook, for some reason, if it isn't a video embed from YouTube then the video starts to automatically play when it comes in view...but on to the main theme of this blog entry...

Throughout the career of Ray Stevens he's recorded or performed several patriotic songs. If you're any kind of serious fan of Ray Stevens then you'll know that a majority of those America/patriotic songs have come within the last 6 years but if you take a glance at some of his albums over the decades you'll find some patriotic stand-alone songs hidden away on LP's. Can you guess what may have been Ray's first ever patriotic song? I'm sure he's recorded or wrote several that weren't released and so I'm only referring to songs that have been commercially released either on albums or as singles and in recent years, on-line video.

Independence Day, or the 4th of July, is largely a time of America celebration and of cook-outs and fireworks. Patriotic, pro-America songs are almost universally accepted as appropriate songs for July 4th. Although Ray has not recorded a song, to my knowledge, dealing in the actual events that led up to Independence Day (July 4, 1776) the fact remains that any song celebrating America's values and ideals or songs about the American flag are sort of lumped into the category of Independence Day songs even if they're not, technically, about the Revolutionary War.

During his involvement/association with Andy Williams (primarily 1969-1971) Ray performed several songs about America on Andy's television series and on the 1970 summer program that Ray hosted for Andy. Although the songs Ray performed were not necessarily dripping in pro-America fervor they were largely middle of the road and filled with the 'everyday person' point of view on the issues of the day (namely the Vietnam War) and they largely side-stepped the contempt and cynicism of the typical protest song of the era. The big song from Ray during this point in time dealing with the issues facing America is "America, Communicate with Me". It's such a great song...excellent recording...a lot of production went into it and it's a great middle of the road message decrying extreme points of view from both political parties and how the concept of one party trying to one-up the other is more or less going to be the nation's undoing.

The song attempted to bridge the gap between two extreme points of view raging on in America. Protests of the Vietnam War had began during the latter half of the Lyndon Johnson administration but it happened to be the Richard Nixon administration that felt the brunt of the protests, sit-in's, anti-war rallies, and the Assassinations of several political figures. Ray Stevens made mention of those assassinations in his recording...but didn't name the victims. As a listener we can safely assume that he's referring to John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr.. Due to the song not taking a strong stance either for or against the Nixon Administration or the Vietnam War it didn't receive a lot of positive publicity among the Top-40 audience and radio disc jockeys of the era. In fact it didn't really receive that much publicity in the printed press...most of it's exposure came via his television performances and the support from Adult-Contemporary radio stations across the country. On the Hot 100 pop chart the single peaked a couple notches short of the Top-40 portion...but the Adult-Contemporary chart (called Easy-Listening in 1970) ranked the song in their Top-20. The song originally could be found on his studio album, Unreal, in which several other topical, social-commentary songs existed: this single's B-side, "Monkey See, Monkey Do", "Can We Get To That", "Come Around", "Loving You on Paper", and "Talking".

A performance by Ray Stevens from his 1970 summer program...he's singing "Save the Country" and is joined by some of his cast-members (namely Mama Cass and Lulu) and then, solo, he sings "America, Communicate with Me"...

The next major recording that Ray did involving America and it's politics and policies came at the end of the 1980s in a stirring performance called "There's a Star Spangled Banner". This is another one of those hidden away songs because the 1989 album it appeared on, Beside Myself, is largely remembered by Ray Stevens fans for the comical songs "I Saw Elvis in a U.F.O.", "I Used to Be Crazy", and "The Woogie Boogie". The album itself presented a blend of serious and comical songs from Ray. Side One consisted of serious ballads and Side Two consisted of comical songs. "There's a Star Spangled Banner" tells the story of an American P.O.W  in Beirut and his optimism that he'll one day be free thanks to his faith in America, the meaning of the Flag, and our Military. Ray re-recorded "There's a Star Spangled Banner" during the Gulf War. The re-recorded version, keeping the same musical arrangement and chorus, features an entirely different set of verses. In the re-recorded version Ray sings about the American flag itself and describes, in song, various historical battles that have taken place. This special re-recording can be found on the 1991 compilation album from Curb Records titled Greatest Hits.

Ray returned to the American military theme for 2004's "Thank You". As you can tell from the year of release this patriotic song came during the early years of Operation Iraqi Freedom which got underway in early 2003 and it lasted until December 2011. Tied into the quest to at long last free Iraq from the Saddam Hussein regime on the belief he had an enormous supply of chemical/biological weapons that he would use on his people was Hussein's overall support of Terrorism (especially terrorism aimed at U.S. interests). The countries that support terrorists, largely in the Middle East, obviously became the target in the American-led coalition...but in the earliest months/years the prime target happened to be a fanatic named Osama bin Laden. Ray Stevens, in fact, satirized bin Laden in a couple of novelty songs...the first being December 2001's "Osama Yo' Mama" (a Gold selling single) and the next being it's sequel, "Hello Mama". "Thank You", in the meantime, honors all branches of the American military. The music video is emotional as one could expect. The song became the title track of a CD that Ray issued in 2004. Ray co-wrote the song with a man named Larry McCoy.

The CD contains a song that Ray wrote called "Let's Roll". The title was inspired by Todd Beamer...a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93 which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 after it had been hijacked by four terrorists. Beamer had been in a conversation on a phone located in the airplane...telling a customer service representative about the hijacking taking place and that he and some other passengers were planning to overtake the hijackers but things ended tragically instead. The last words from Beamer heard by the representative happened to include the "Let's Roll" command to some of his fellow passengers. You can purchase the song as an Mp3 on Amazon by clicking HERE. The song has appeared on 2004's Thank You, 2005's Box Set, and 2010's We The People.

Speaking of that 2010 I mentioned earlier in this blog entry political songs that promote a Pro-America message tend to be lumped in with patriotic songs. In the latter half of 2009 and into the next several years the music of Ray Stevens received a tremendous boost via YouTube. The on-line popularity of a certain music video, "We the People", sent hundreds of thousands of people onto Ray's official website and onto his YouTube channel. Through on-line sharing the music video soon eclipsed a million unique views in a month's time. This kind of viral video experience literally changed the direction of Ray's career overnight. He happened to be winding down and reducing his workload by 2008 and in the pages of his 2014 memoir admitted that he had contemplated retiring altogether from concerts and other personal appearances around the time he sold his Branson, Missouri theater to RFD-TV in 2006. By 2006 his CD releases had also gotten sporadic. During the span of January 2000 to December 2006 Ray Stevens released a grand total of 3 studio albums in that 6 year time frame: 2000's Ear Candy, 2002's Osama Yo' Mama, and 2004's Thank You. One could argue that the 2002 CD wasn't necessarily a traditional studio album because it consisted largely of recordings that had already been released on the 2000 CD. The 2002 CD contained 7 songs that had appeared on Ear Candy in addition to 2001's single release, "Osama Yo' Mama" and it's B-side, "United We Stand". The one song on the 2002 not previously released happened to be "Freudian Slip". To date the 2002 CD is the only place to find that song.

After Ray's video had reached over a million unique views in a month's time he began making appearances on numerous high profile television programs that aired on the Fox News Channel. In the song he name drops personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glen Beck. "We The People" spoke out against Obama-Care (the nickname for the President's health care plan). To show you the power of high profile publicity Ray's website crashed after O'Reilly mentioned Ray's video and played a short snippet of it in a broadcast. Several days later Ray appeared on the program, via video hook-up, and thanked O'Reilly for causing the site to crash because it was a sign of instant heavy traffic in search of Ray's recording/video. The video has gotten more than 5 million unique views.

Highly topical it visually presented itself comically but took aim at Congress very seriously by warning them that if they pass Obama's health care plan then they'll be voted out come the next election cycle. The prophetic lyrics rang true...the 2010 election season seen the rise of the Tea Party movement (a faction of voters fed up with both political parties but sided mostly with the Conservative wing of the Republican party). This movement ultimately led to a dramatic resurgence of Republicans being voted into Congress that November as a direct result of Obama and the Democrat-led Congress shoving Obama-Care down people's throats and voting the bill into law in the middle of the night. The Republican party took over the House of Representatives and nearly took over the Senate. A lot of vulnerable Democrats ended up either losing or deciding to not run or retire rather than face defeat. From 2010 until early 2013 Ray racked up some impressive numbers on the YouTube site...a lot of his older music videos that had nothing to do with patriotism or politics were being discovered by this newer audience that found Ray Stevens as a result of the "We The People" music video and other videos that followed...namely the enormously successful "Come to the U.S.A." which deals with the problems of illegal immigration. To date that video's been seen by more than 9 million!

2011 saw the release of the Spirit of '76. The CD, as you can see in the collage, features a photo of Ray superimposed into a Spirit of '76 painting. The project was largely built around a couple of songs that had become successful music videos on YouTube prior to the CD's release. "God Save Arizona" spoke out against Obama and Eric Holder in their lack of support of Arizona during a highly contentious period of time involving an unusually high number of illegal immigrants crossing into the country from Mexico. Not only did Obama and the Holder justice department refuse to offer support to the state's Governor and various local police departments but ultimately the Holder justice department sued the State of Arizona for not "following Federal law and it's mandates" when it comes to illegal immigration. The sorry state of events inspired "God Save Arizona". A clever tie-in to the U.S.S. Arizona battle ship provides a neat lead-off. One of the songs that didn't become a music video but it nevertheless is a good patriotic song is "My Uncle Sam". It's track five on the CD. It's a song which begins literally about an uncle named Sam in which Ray describes as set in his ways and can often be misunderstood but it turns into a testimonial about how America has grown, evolved, and is still the greatest nation on Earth in spite of flaws that pop up every so often.

Another popular music video, "Obama Budget Plan", hit big during the bitter battle between Obama and his opponents in the House of Representatives and the Senate over the ever increasing budget and federal deficit. The video has gotten more than 4 million views. The Spirit of '76 CD features 11 songs and of those recordings 5 are YouTube music video smash hits: "Obama Budget Plan", "Mr. President - Mr. President", "God Save Arizona", "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore", and "Grandpa Voted Democrat". Song four is about airport security and the T.S.A. and song five is about voter fraud (it became a video right around the November 2012 election cycle).

Just recently Ray performed the National Anthem at the CMA Music Fest. I posted a video of his performance a couple of blogs ago but here's a LINK to the clip. The musical arrangement with the keyboard being the lead instrument is based on the recording he did for the 2010 We The People CD.

It's been a rather lengthy blog entry today but I wanted to try and touch base on nearly all of the major recordings from Ray Stevens that have a patriotic and political overtone. I think I succeeded but later today I'll more or less remember something that slipped my mind and I'll have to edit it into the text at a later date.
Have a Safe Fourth of July!!!