Friday, March 05, 2010

YouTube Song of the Day - Carnival Art - Ray's Jesus (1992)

So, this tune is from a college radio tape from mid-1992. On the beaten up cassette on which I recorded this song, I had written down the name as "Raise Jesus" instead of "Ray's Jesus" and I wasn't really sure of the band's name either. "Carnival?" This made tracking down the tune quite difficult. Anyhoo, eventually I figured out the band was probably "Carnival Art," and from there I finally found the song.

The band actually released two major label albums (in 1991 and 1992), as well as an EP in 1992 called "Holy Smokes" from which this tune comes. They also had a few videos, one of which had a brief cameo on Beavis & Butthead once (this is the sort of bizarre tidbit that the internet preserves everywhere), and you can find those videos on YouTube too. "Carnival Art" is pretty much forgotten beyond that, except for the fact that bassist Brian Bell's next band was Weezer, and the "Weezerpedia" is so freakin' thorough that it has decent coverage of this band as well.

The force behind Carnival Art was a guy named Michael P. Tak, aka Michael Petak, who also released a solo album around 1994, after Carnival Art broke up. In the 2000s, Petak has done a lot of work on cartoon shows, as this blogpost and its comments revealed. (He's on IMBD: Michael Petak). One always wonders what happens to old "rock stars," little do you realize they may influence your kid's musical tastes (a good thing in this instance).

Anyway, Ray's Jesus, the song, is a driving two-guitar alt. rock assault, a bit of punk, a bit of twang, with lyrics recasting the story of Jesus among a crazed trailer-trash family.

"Ray was the son of a sanitation architect
Thought he was Jesus or so I was told
Lived in a room with his brother in a discotheque
His name was Judas and his feet were always cold

Mother Mary was card-carrying virgin
A psycho meter maid who worked for the Lord
She said her sons were Immaculate Conception
The doctors say it was a laboratory job."

While the song title may just be a funny pun, I'd like to think its possible that its a tribute to the 1961 film King of Kings, directed by Nicholas Ray. Like the song, King of Kings was a retelling of the Christ tale much different than the Bible version (e.g., Barabbas is Judas's bud). Analysis of the film often refers to the depiction of Jesus as "Ray's Jesus." Nicholas Ray was also director of the 50s teen angst classic Rebel Without A Cause. Whether my theory is accurate or not, I'll stick with it. Better than learning it was just a title they came up with when they were stoned.

Mp3 - Ray's Jesus - Carnival Art

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