It’s been written that the recent song and video by Grammy Award winner Ray Stevens, could be the official anthem of the Tea Party Movement. Stevens is well known as being a comedian, songwriter and patriot has created “We the People”, a hilarious country-western blast at Obamacare.
“We the People” is about Obamacare and the health-care reform bills that have passed both houses of Congress.
The lyrics express a comic, but pointed warning to members of Congress: “You vote Obamacare, we’re going to vote you out of there. We the People have awakened to your tricks. You vote to let this pass, you’re going to be out on your (sound of foghorn).”
I took some time to visit with Ray about the song, his career and what is next for him.
Bev: I am excited to hear new music from you on the radio and also a video. What prompted you to do this one?
Ray: I have always been a conservative and have been outraged for some time by the tactics of the present administration and the people in power in Washington. I thought this little song was timely and in a very simple way was able to get the message out that the tea party people are not a flash in the pan. The majority of America agrees with this song. Last night O’Reilly played a little of it on his show; talked about it and our website crashed because it had so many hits at one time and so did the website at U-Tube.
Bev: That is a pretty good indication that there are a lot of people out there that feel the exact same way.
Bev: What has been the most common response from people when they hear it or see the video; what do you hear most often?
Ray: Everyone has been very gracious, and say “we agree -- right on. Keep doing it and things like that.” Words of encouragement and meanwhile there are some dissenting voices out there. And there always will be. There are always people out there who do not agree with what I consider to be common sense, but that is their right and their privilege. I hope and pray that they one day see the light and see the folly of their thinking; because if we don’t turn this around the result of their thinking will be all too evident and it will come down on all of us.
Not just the Right Wingers but the Lefties too. They have to live in this world as well and I just don’t understand where they are coming from.
Bev: Have there been any reactions or responses that have really shocked you or surprises that you did not expect?
Ray: I did not know there was as much of a thirst for this message as there seems to be. I was a little surprised at the speed and the way it has been so successful so fast. But a pleasant surprise.
Bev: How long has it been since you have released a parody or similar project like this?
Ray: I am always recording songs that are what I consider a patriotic point of view politically and another of my latest projects was a song called “Safe At Home” which uses baseball analogy to indicate we all have a God given right to feel safe in our own homes. I recorded this after 911.
I have a song called “Thank You” which is a tip of the hat to the troops for their service.
Bev: Do you produce your own projects as well?
Ray: I have always had my own studio since 1970 right here in Nashville. Recently I bought a bigger one next to my other and remodeled it. I love every minute of it; the equipment is all new, state-of-the-art and it is a real pleasure to record in there. I have been able to make quality records for a long time, but with this new state of the art equipment, I’m in there all the time recording new and exciting projects. I am working on a big project at the moment called “The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music”.
This is going to be a very ambitious undertaking. I am about halfway through it. When I have it complete, there will be 100 songs and hopefully touch on every aspect of recorded comedy music down through the years. I have included recordings by some of the greats. This will be my version, but songs by The Coasters, Spike Jones and Roger Miller; if it was a big successful comedy song it ought to be in there.
Bev: Are you doing this in chronological order?
Ray: I am trying to put everything in sequence time wise.
Bev: This will be a multi- CD set?
Ray: Oh absolutely. You couldn’t get 100 songs on one CD. I do not know how we are going to package it yet. We are working on the packaging right now. It will be several CD’s in a boxed set.
Bev: Let’s go back to your current song; you utilized YouTube to release it and your Myspace and website for promotions. What are your thoughts on the new methods being used today?
Ray: Honestly I am not savvy with the internet, but I have people who work with me with me that are and thank God for them. They guide me along these treacherous paths, but I made the record and then we shot a little video just to put on YouTube. That has proved to be so successful that we are doing an album called “We the People”. Several of the songs are dynamite songs and they are along the same lines. One of the songs that I think might be, and I stress the word might, be the follow-up is a song called “Throw the Bums Out”.
Bev: “Throw the Bums Out” is on the comedy side, not political? Not having to do with the (Obamacare)? Did I follow that right?
Ray: This has to do with Congress.
Bev: The full CD will be patriotic sort of songs. Are they comedy? Serious? A combination of both?
Ray: A combination of both but leaning toward the comedy side.
Bev: Obviously that is how most people know you; but you also have some serious stuff out there that you have done. Do you find that you enjoy one more than the other? Do you have a preference to record comedy or do you get more satisfaction out of the songs that have a very serious meaning?
Ray: I like both. In a comedy song you do not have to use your vocal abilities as much as you do on a serious song. “Everything is Beautiful” was a big hit for me in 1970 and won me a Grammy for Male Vocalist of the Year. You get to perform more as a vocalist on serious songs than you do with songs like “The Streak. Both are very satisfying and I really enjoy all kinds of music.
Bev: As far as where you are today with everything you do in the music business; what is your favorite part of your involvement within the music community is today? You have achieved so much in the time frame of the music industry.
Ray: I enjoy it all! I enjoy recording, I enjoy arranging, I enjoy the orchestra, and I enjoy performing. We still travel and do concerts. We will probably do 100 concerts this year 2010.
Bev: Do you have any songs that are your personal favorite?
Ray: No, I try not to pick favorites.
Bev: Same with your video? None was a special favorite to create?
Ray: This last one was done on the very very cheap. We just did it to get it on YouTube immediately. We shot it on a green screen then posted in stills of congress in session, stills of the white house, stills of this that and the other.
Bev: Are you doing performances in the Nashville area or are you out traveling and doing most of it in other areas?
Ray: Hopefully we are scheduling shows in Nashville, but we have not nailed any down at this point. At this point we are just booked out of town. But I have lived here since 1962 and I love this town and I love to perform here. I am looking forward to booking some concerts here.
Bev: I understand you have recently completed a TV pilot, can you tell me some about that?
Ray: We just shot three 30 minute episodes of a pilot for a TV sitcom that we are shopping right
now to the networks. It is about a retirement home for entertainers called “We Ain’t Dead Yet”. It is quite funny. We have some great people in it. Of course being here in Nashville we have access to an endless list of guests who would really make the show a lot of fun and lend a lot of credibility to the concept.
Bev: Can you elaborate on the guest stars in the pilot?
Ray: Oh sure. Some of the regulars besides myself include Louise Mandrell, Phil Everly, George "Goober" Lindsay, Ralph Emery, George Jones and Bobby Bare were each on one episode.
Bev: Ray, it has been a pleasure talking to you. I look forward to the future music and I love what you have out now with “We the People”. I look forward to you doing a show here in Nashville so I can come out and see you.
Ray: That would be great Bev. Thank you for your interest in my music and the video, come on out, we would love to have you.
For more information on Ray Stevens visit www.raystevens.com or follow him on Twitter at raystevensmusic
Transcribed by Darlene McPherson