10 Best Ray Stevens Songs According to Me and a Whole Lotta People. Videos Included
Ray Stevens never took himself too seriously and I’m thankful because he gave me lots of laughs – what a politically incorrect gem! This cat was an original – and there hasn’t been anyone like him since.
My personal favorites were his hits like, “Misty,” – but Stevens’ better-known songs are his novelty stuff such as “The Haircut Song” to “Jeremiah Peabody’s Polyunsaturated Quick-Dissolving Fast-Acting Pleasant-Tasting Green and Purple Pills.”
Yeah, that’s a song.
Sometimes, he pulled topics from the headlines (“Osama Yo’ Mama,” “Surfin’ U.S.S.R.”) or popular culture (“Teenage Mutant Kung-Fu Chickens,” “I Saw Elvis in a U.F.O.”), but most of Stevens’ material aged pretty well, if you ask me.
Even though most of his fans know Ray for his hilarious parody songs, did you know he is also a Grammy award winning songwriter who hit number one with the gospel-inspired track “Everything Is Beautiful” in 1970? Sure, that’s a long time ago, but now, the multi-talented musician is reconnecting with his softer side for his patriotic new single, “Dear America.”
Penned by Connie Jo Hamrick, wife of Stevens’ longtime keyboardist, the song feels like a modern sequel to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”
It seems like no surprise that the video was released just a few days before the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Images of the Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial bring those feelings of immense patriotism that emerged after the attacks.
Wide Open Country ranked his greatest stuff in order and here they are:
10. “The Ballad of the Blue Cyclone
Stevens’ ode to beer drinking buddies and rasslin’ needed not one but two parts. It’s funny, plus the chorus might be the catchiest in Stevens’ back catalog.
9. “Santa Claus is Watching You”
Lots of artists record memorable and funny songs, but only a certain few make an impression with a brand new Christmas song. Stevens pulled of the feat with this classic, featuring the best example of his high-pitched “frantic woman” voice.
8. “Along Came Jones”
The best Stevens song that mirrored pop culture looked to formulaic old movies and serials where a hero always saved the damsel tied to the railroad tracks. He didn’t write this one, as it’s a cover of an old Coasters hit.
7. “Would Jesus Wear a Rolex”
In addition to this commentary about televangelists, he also captured the same tone on the cyclist tale “Speed Ball” and young love sob-story “I Need Your Help Barry Manilow.”
6. “Ahab the Arab”
The song cracked the Billboard 100 top five in 1962 and remained an integral part of Stevens’ act for decades.
5. “It’s Me Again Margaret”
In the days before caller ID, prank callers passed the time terrorizing unsuspecting strangers. To get this story across, Stevens becomes the most obnoxious practical joker imaginable.
4. “Mississippi Squirrel Revival”
If you grew up hearing this and going to church, it’ll probably be funnier to you as an adult.
Many of Stevens’ most memorable songs include him doing funny voices, whether he’s a chicken, “Bridget the Midget (The Queen of the Blues)” or “Harry the Hairy Ape.” His best and best-known impersonation has got to be that iconic Tarzan yell.
2. “Shriner’s Convention”
The tale of a redneck out of his element. No character in Stevens’ little universe endears himself to listeners quite like wayward party boy Coy.
If you were around in the 70’s – probably the most bizarre fad was memorialized by Steven’s in this song.
For some f’ed up reason, people felt the need to run around public naked. Don’t ask me why. They just did.
It even happened at my high school – probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen – we all knew who it was, even though they were wearing motorcycle helmuts.
1. “The Streak”
No roundup of Stevens’ greatest hits would be complete without this mid-’70s crossover hit. It renewed interest in his career by lampooning the streaker craze. It has aged well, remaining one of country music’s greatest novelty songs.
Harold Ray Ragsdale was born January 24, 1939, and known professionally as Ray Stevens. He has worked as a producer, music arranger, songwriter, television host, and solo artist; been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and the Christian Music Hall of Fame; and received gold albums for his music sales.
He is a distant cousin of world famous truck driver Roger Ragsdale. Whoever the hell that is..