Hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens! This is going to be a somewhat busy several days given the grand opening of the CabaRay four days away on January 18th. Those of you fortunate enough to attend the grand opening on the 18th or any of the concerts during opening weekend and beyond no doubt will have memories that'll last forever. Are you all excited?? I imagine the fans in attendance will share their experiences on social media so I'll be looking for commentary to spotlight on this blog. In this particular blog entry I decided to put some spotlight on an album that turns 35 this year...the wonderful album, Me.
Fast forward 20 some years to 1983 and Ray finds himself reuniting with Mercury Records for a one album deal featuring Jerry Kennedy as co-producer. At this point in time the biggest recording act for the label and Jerry Kennedy was arguably the country music group, The Statler Brothers, even though he produced almost all of the roster on Mercury's country music division throughout the late '60s and into the early '80s (acts like Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom T. Hall, early recordings by Reba McEntire, Roger Miller...anyone recording country music for Mercury or it's subsidiary labels often featured Jerry Kennedy as producer and sometimes even session musician). Once the CabaRay opens on January 18th you'll be able to see the glorious red leather section of the venue honoring numerous record producers based in Nashville and among those spotlighted is Jerry Kennedy (the other five are Shelby Singleton, Chet Atkins, Fred Foster, Owen Bradley, and Billy Sherrill).
As I pointed out earlier in the blog entry the album officially turns 35 later in the year but I wanted to celebrate it's debut earlier. If you have never heard of Ray's Me album seek it out on eBay. It's been in my Ray Stevens vinyl collection for more than 10 years. I purchased my copy off of eBay and sometimes a cassette copy comes up for sale on eBay, too. Some of the songs from this 1983 album have been re-recorded by Ray for recent projects...so chances are you've heard some of the songs but weren't aware that they originated earlier. Just what are the songs on this album?? Here is a track list...I highlighted in bold the songs that Ray had a hand in writing:
1. Love Will Beat Your Brains Out
2. Mary Lou Nights
3. Special Anniversary
4. Piedmont Park
6. My Dad
8. Piece of Paradise Called Tennessee
9. Kings and Queens
10. Game Show Love
In case you have the album, too, you can glance over all of the technical aspects of the project such as length of each song and the writers credited on tracks 4, 6, and 7 plus the photographer credits, etc. etc. The entire album is serious, in tone, but some have declared "Game Show Love" as a comedy song and there are those that have never heard "Love Will Beat Your Brains Out" but nevertheless erroneously declare it a comedy song, too, based entirely on the title.
In case you've heard rumors for years let me assure you they're true...Ray did in fact appear as a special guest on an episode of The Fall Guy in 1983 titled The Pirates of Nashville. Ray portrayed a character that just happened to be a country music singer and near the end of the episode he performs "Piece of Paradise Called Tennessee" all decked out in the shirt he's wearing on the 1983 Greatest Hits album that RCA issued. The episode originally aired on November 23, 1983 right around the time Me was considered his most recent album. Mercury issued several single releases from the 1983 album...the one that reached the country music charts happened to be "My Dad", one of the songs Ray didn't write. The single peaked on the country charts in early 1984 but well below the radio heavy Top-40 section. It is not the same song that Paul Petersen had a pop hit with even though several internet sites erroneously make that claim. Ray's recording of "My Dad" is a completely different song.