Ray Stevens Keeps His ‘Spirit’ Bright After 54 Years in the Music Business
Ray Stevens is a multi-platinum recording artist, songwriter and two-time Grammy winner who is celebrating 54 years in the music business this year. Throughout his career, Stevens has sold over 25 million albums and over four million videos. Now, the 11-time Grammy nominee is back with a new collection of songs titled 'Spirit of '76.' The album's first release is the tongue-and-cheek ditty 'Obama Budget Plan,' which has been blowing up YouTube since the video went live earlier this year.
Taste of Country recently caught up with the funnyman to discuss his new album and the past 54 years in which he has been keeping us laughing!
Can you tell us a little about some of the songs that are featured on the ‘Spirit of ‘76’ album?
It has songs on there that sort of comply with the title. The first song on the album is ‘The Skies Just Ain’t Friendly Anymore,’ and that’s talking about getting stripped searched at the airports before you get on a plane [laughs]. The second song is called ‘Mr. President -- Mr. President [What Are You Going to Do]’ … [in the song] the President says, “Well I’m gonna take off my coat and roll up my sleeves / Turn on the teleprompter and give another speech / Act real cool and talk real soft / Then go out and play another round of golf.” The next song is about illegal immigration. It’s called ‘God Save Arizona.’ It talks about the problems on the southern border. The next song talks about [Obama’s] Cap and Trade … it’s called ‘Cap’n Trade the Pirate.’ He’s going to steal us blind … that’s the plan, anyway.
‘November Storm’ is a song about the election in 2012 that hopefully blows all the bad cats out of Washington, D.C. [laughs]! ‘Mi Casa Su Casa’ is another song about the immigration problem. There’s a song called ‘Grandpa Voted Democrat,’ and of course Grandpa’s been dead for years, and the reason he voted Democrat is because in the song, the Democrats have dug up all the old names and used them as live voters, which I’m told is very common practice, especially around Chicago. The ‘Obama Budget Plan’ talks about counterfeiting. Of course, the government can counterfeit, but if you and I were to do it, as in the song, we get arrested. They’re debasing our currency, and if you write bad checks and end up cheating other people, you go to jail. But the government can just print money until it’s worthless, and they cheat everybody, especially people who are retired.
It doesn’t sound like you’re afraid to hold anything back with this album!
Not a bit. We’ve got to stand up and be counted here, because this is more important than anything. Our freedom is at stake. The government is already into our lives a whole lot more than they should be. If I were President, I’d roll everything back. Everything!
Is that ever in your future, you think?
Heck no [laughs]! Are you kidding [more laughter]?! But I tell you … anybody would be better than Obama! Anybody!
‘Obama Budget Plan’ is the first single off ‘Spirit of '76,’ and the video is blowing up on YouTube. Can you tell us a little bit about the video shoot?
We shot a lot of the video in my video studio, which is down the street from my office here in Nashville. We went to a local print shop that had an old printing press in the basement. We used that to illustrate the printing of the money. That was a lot of fun, and the people at the print shop were a lot of fun. They were very helpful.
What has the feedback been on the new album? Have you been getting a lot of thumbs up on it?
Yes! And if somebody don’t like it, I’m sorry, but I don’t really care if you don’t like it. What’s that old saying … opinions are like rectums … we all have one!
We recently heard that with the addition of ‘Obama Budget Plan,’ your YouTube page is nearing 30K hits?
Yeah! That includes all of the [older videos, as well as] current videos that we’ve been making that have the political aspect to them and the patriotic aspect.
You are in your 54th year of making music in this industry now. How do you keep it fresh after all these years so you don’t get bored with it all?
I love what I do. I made my first record in '57. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of making records and writing songs and singing and being in the music business. I’m not just a singer of funny songs; I am basically, first and foremost, a musician. I’m always recording all styles of music. Like it or not, though, the funny songs always rise to the top most of the time, but that’s OK with me!
So after 54 years of doing this, what is something you still hope to achieve along the way that you haven’t done yet?
I’m open to whatever [laughs]. I haven’t really set any goals. I’m just doing what I like to do.
Watch the Ray Stevens 'Obama Budget Plan' Video