If you love country music, you are probably very familiar with the songs of Ray Stevens. Now 82 years old, he has been a stalwart in the country music sector for decades. For the most part, his songs have largely been comical in their nature, with a bit of satire thrown in. However, he has occasionally sung a particular ballad that would bring tears to even the most stoic person’s eyes. If you’re in the mood for a good mix of funny and serious music, it might be a good idea to check out his work.
One thing is certain, you’ll spend half of your time laughing hysterically and the other half of your time pretending that you have something in your eye as you wipe away a tear. If you want to know more about his music, here are ten of his best songs, ranked from number 10 to number one. If you are so inclined, go ahead and click on the YouTube link listed under the title of each song and see what you might have been missing all these years.
10. The Haircut Song (1987)
Like many of his songs, this one has more than its fair share of humor but it also has a tendency to be a bit subversive in the sense that it makes fun of the macho male that has to look like a linebacker, drive the biggest truck in town and have more guns than anyone else. Like many of Stevens’ songs, it has a way of making fun of real things that people are forced to deal with in society, but it does so in a humorous way.
9. Shriner’s Convention (1980)
Again, this is a song that uses humor to make fun of things that are a part of culture in America. In this particular case, it’s all about the Shriner’s Convention, as the title implies. Anyone that’s ever lived in a small town in the United States knows that these types of organizations often organize parades and all kinds of events where people cook a ton of food and everyone else comes out with the idea of supporting the organization. In some cases, the organization in question might be more honorable than the next. This is the song that sort of makes fun of the idea that every man has to belong to one of these organizations in a small town and every woman has to be part of the Ladies Auxiliary so they can cook tons of food for them.
8. Everything Is Beautiful (1970)
This is one of Stevens’ relatively few songs that doesn’t deal with satire. In fact, it’s arguably his most serious song that he ever recorded and just as the title implies, the song itself is also beautiful. In short, the song talks about looking past the differences that people see in each other, whether that involves differences in the color of one’s skin or another person’s socioeconomic status. The song brings to light the fact that everyone is not only beautiful, but also serves a purpose. Furthermore, that beauty should be celebrated as opposed to squashed just because it’s different from someone else’s beauty.
7. The Streak (1974)
This is definitely one of his more comical songs. If you’ve ever heard of a person who takes off their clothes and runs around in public as someone who is “streaking,” then you know where the title comes from. In fact, the entire song deals with various people who live in a small town and are forced to deal with this guy that runs around all over the place without his clothes on, all while being pursued by a reporter because it’s a sleepy little town and that’s the most exciting thing that has happened in years.
6. The Mississippi Squirrel Revival (1984)
This is another song that’s full of satire and it’s absolutely hilarious. In this particular piece of work, Stevens uses satire to sing about a certain organized religion, more specifically the Baptists. Make no mistake about it, he’s not disrespecting God in the song, but he has plenty to say about organized religion in general and Baptists more specifically. The song talks about how this squirrel gets loose at a Revival and runs all over the place terrorizing people, eventually causing their true colors to come out and demonstrating that the overwhelming majority of the people there are not nearly as holy as they would like for everyone else to think they are.
5. Mr. Businessman (1968)
This is one of the more poignant songs Stevens ever performed. In the song, the businessman that is being referred to is someone who seems to be one person in the public eye and someone completely different behind closed doors. He wants to be well-respected in the community so he can get more business, yet he has virtually no sense of morals and would do anything to get ahead, not caring about any of the people that he supposedly loves nor the ones that he steps on along the way. The song goes on to mention that he needs to get his life in order before it’s too late, something that a lot of people could probably identify with at one time or another.
4. Santa Claus Is Watching You (1983)
This was one of his funnier songs, tweaked to be fitting for the Christmas season. At its core, it’s about two people who are having an affair, believing all the while that they’re getting away with it. In a tongue and cheek manner, Stevens goes on to talk about how Santa Claus is watching them, even if they think no one else is. The moral of the story is that even when you think no one knows what you’re doing in the shadows, someone always does. Perhaps you shouldn’t be doing things that you have to do in the shadows in the first place.
3. Along Came Jones (1969)
This is one of his more tame songs, but it’s still funny. There isn’t a deep message attached to this one. In fact, it’s a song about westerns that people watch on television and how they all seem to have the same plot, almost as if they were all really just the same thing being shown over and over again.
2. It’s Me Again, Margaret (1984)
This is a cheeky little song about a guy that’s completely infatuated with a woman in town. He goes to a payphone every night and calls her. It’s a serious subject that is told in a way that it becomes genuinely funny.
1. Ahab, The Arab (1962)
This is a song that would probably be barred today. It talks about an Arab gentleman that fits all the stereotypes that existed of anyone of Middle Eastern descent back then. This is one of those songs that you just have to listen to believe it. Once you hear it, you probably won’t ever forget it, either.
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