Interesting Questions, Facts and Information
- There are a total of 30 general entries.
Interesting Questions, Facts, and Information
Raindrops Keep Falling From My Head. Ray had just spent a lot of time on a new song, "Sunday Morning Coming Down." It remains an incredible, well-crafted performance. But the single didn't chart very high. Johnny Cash would have the hit.(Ray's version is available on the Rhino and Varese collections mentioned earlier." Incidentally, Ray did cover "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" on the "Everything Is Beautiful" album. I own a copy with a sticker that advertised its presence. This album also has covers of the other songs in this question. They are available on some CD collections, though a little hard to find.
2. Ray won Grammies for "Everything Is Beautiful," and his arrangement of "Misty." He did get a nomination for "Gitarzan." Considering the career revivals of Tony Bennett and Johnny Cash, this number could change in the future.
Dolly Parton. Dolly also spent time at the Monument label. Some written accounts suggest problems. Apparently Ray had tried to record her as a pop singer. She threatened to leave the label, if she couldn't record country. (The source is "The View From Nashville," by Ralph Emery with Patsi Bale Cox.) Judging from her later crossover success, he may have just been before his time. He later appeared on her 70s syndicated program. They dueted on a song he'd produced for her: "Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby."
Unwind. Ray didn't want to be typecast as a novelty singer. So he quit recording for two years. His tenure at Monument Records brought him some attention as a serious singer. Yet there would be more novelty hits too. It is on both the Rhino and Varese collections.
Santa Claus Is Watching You. This song has the camel subbing for Rudolph, who dislocated his hip in a twist contest. It is available on the Rhino collection. The 80s remake has almost entirely different lyrics. It was included in the video "Comedy Video Classics." The camel was nowhere around!
A bathtub. This album appeared in 1963. It was his second album for Mercury Records. "Harry The Hairy Ape" and "Speedball" were on this album. It is currently out of print. I got my copy off ebay.
Clyde. "Ahab The Arab" first appeared in 1962. The Rhino collection includes the original album version. (It's longer than the single.) The Varese collection features a remake done for the 1969 "Gitarzan" album. The camel logo has appeared on many of his recordings. He has also used its name for a record label and video company. Many of his songs were published by Ahab Music.
Sgt. Preston Of The Yukon. This 1959 recording for the NRC label had sold several thousand copies. But it had to be withdrawn when the syndicate who owned the character protested. Ray didn't know that he needed their permission! It is available on the Varese Sarabande album "All-Time Greatest Hits." The song includes a mention of Rin Tin Tin. He did record " "Dudley Doo-Right Of The Highway Patrol" many years later. His first chart appearance was in 1961 with "Jeremiah Peabody's Poly Unsaturated, Quick Dissolving, Fast Acting, Pleasant Tasting, Green and Purple Pills." This song is available on "The Best Of Ray Stevens," Rhino. (The liner notes for these albums were very helpful for this quiz.)
January 24, 1939. The other dates, though not the years, are the birthdays of my parents and yours truly.
Harold Ray Ragsdale. Ray was born in Clarksdale, GA. I have an uncle named Donald Ray. Another uncle is named Andrew. C.W. Kalb is a songwriter who has written many songs for and/or with Ray.
The Fall Guy. Ray played, surprise, a singer. He did sing. But we also got to see some good acting chops. I knew this guy was talented!
(Theme From) The Monkees. Ray cut the song on his 1984 album "He Thinks He's Ray Stevens." (It's also sold as "Mississippi Squirrel Revival.") You should check it out!
Andy Williams. Andy Williams' brother Don managed Ray. This connection led to Ray joining the Barnaby label, which Andy Williams owned. (He started it after buying out the Cadence label, where he once recorded. This included the early Everly Brothers hits.) Also, Ray hosted Andy Williams' summer replacement show on NBC. Cass Elliot was a regular! Who else would love to see it again?
Let It Be. Ray covered "Help," "Hey Jude," and "Fool On The Hill" on his 1969 "Have A Little Talk With Myself" album. He cut "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" and "Something" on his 1970 "Everything Is Beautiful" album. I particularly recommend his versions of "Help" and "Something." Unfortunately, most of these cuts aren't available on CD yet. The original albums do turn up on ebay.
Dr. Demento. That one should have been easy. Dr. Demento has frequently featured Ray's work, even the more obscure early novelty songs, on his program and CD collections. It's almost impossible to have any novelty song anthology without at least one Ray Stevens song.
Bye Bye Love. Was that one tricky or what? S and G have long noted the Everly Brothers' influence on their work. They covered "Bye Bye Love" on their "Bridge Over Troubled Water" album. They later sang "Wake Up, Little Susie" at their Central Park concert. They most recently toured with the Everly Brothers. Ray covered "Bye Bye Love" on his "Losin' Streak" album.
Marie Osmond. B.J. Thomas had a hit with "Mr. Businessman." O.C. Smith scored with "Isn't It Lonely Together?" Captain and Tennille did well with "Can't Stop Dancing." Marie Osmond did cover "Everything Is Beautiful" on her "Paper Roses" album. That appears to be his most covered song.
Trumpet. Ray did one session with Elvis in the 60s. He only cut 2 songs, both originally released as B-sides. (Source: Elvis Presley: A Life In Music, The Complete Recording Sessions) In one article, Ray admitted that he wasn't that proficent on the instrument. He did play a solo on "Spinning Wheel," which appeared on his 1969 "Have A Little Talk With Myself" album.
Merv Griffin. This album first appeared on the Monument label in 1969. It remains one of his best. Besides the title song, he offered 10 more funny numbers. He had a hit with his version of "Along Came Jones." Other songs include: "Mr. Custer," "Alley Oop," and his own "Freddie Feel Good (and his Funky Little Five Piece Band." The remakes of "Ahab the Arab" and "Harry the Hairy Ape" have appeared on many compilation albums. This album was reissued on the Varese Sarabande label. Alas, it didn't include the original liner notes.
Chet Atkins. This great guitar player and producer was a good friend of Ray's. He appeared in two of Ray's videos. The song first appeared in 1987. It led the "Cracking Up" album.
Willard McBain. This song also appeared on his 1984 MCA album. Paul Craft wrote the song. John Ragsdale is Ray's brother. He has worked with Ray on various projects. C.W. Kalb has written many songs for and/or with Ray. The cover of "All-Time Greatest Comedy Hits" shows Ray acting out this part. He puts on the hat, and voila!
Pascagoula. This song first appeared in 1984. It was on his debut MCA album, "He Thinks He's Ray Stevens." This album was reissued on CD. Guess which song was the new title? The other cities are also located in Mississippi. Please watch your pronunciation. There's no ox in Biloxi!
321. One fan used this number for a wonderful web site about Ray Stevens. He had to take it down due to time and health problems. This song first appeared in 1979. It was the title song of Ray's first album on RCA. The back cover had a cartoon retelling of the song. Ray featured the song in his "Get Serious" video. By the way, he's still popular with the Shriners.
Chicken. What would Glenn Miller think of this version? Roy Clark recorded a guitar instrumental version on his 1963 debut album, "The Lightning Fingers of Roy Clark." It's available on CD. Ray's version first appeared under the group Henhouse Five Plus Two. Its first album appearance may be "Get the Best of Ray Stevens," a mail-order collection. You should see his band do the song on the video "More Ray Stevens Live." Talk about a hoot! By the way, this may be Ray's easiest song to harmonize with.
Opera. Don't look Ethel! This song wasn't the only one to address a trend. May it never come back! Some folks come awfully close. The single was first released in 1974. It led the "Boogity Boogity" album. Collectibles released it and his 1973 album "Nashville" on a double CD. Talk about a contrast!
Strawberry and the Shortcakes. This single first appeared in 1970. Its first album appearance was on "Greatest Hits," Barnaby. It later got reissued on the "Boogity Boogity" album. The voices were created via speeding up the tape, ala the Purple People Eater and Chipmunks.
Bill Justis. Justis was a producer and arranger. He started out at Sun Records. You may remember his instrumental hit, "Raunchy." Varese Sarabande has reissued the "Gitarzan" album on CD. It's worth checking out.
Sam Phillips was the founder of Sun Records. Jack Clement was one of his producer. Clement later worked with other artists, such as Charlie Pride and Don Williams. Shelby Singleton was Ray's producer at Mercury Records. In 1969, he purchased the Sun Records catalogue from Sam Phillips. Talk about good timing! Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis were both experiencing new popularity. Singleton benefited by reissuing their Sun recordings.
Trumpet. This song was first released as a single in 1966. That version can be found on "All-Time Greatest Hits," Varese Sarabande. Its first album appearance was on the 1969 "Gitarzan" album. The only apparent difference was the addition of fake applause. This album had the format of a live concert. It got reissued on the 1974 album "Boogity Boogity." Ray has performed this song during some of his TV appearances. Unlike the recording, he only plays the title character.
Fatima. Being a Ray Stevens fan can be hard. One, there are so many overlapping compilations. This is out of his control. Two, he's recorded some songs more than once. Some of his older albums have been reissued on CD. May his whole catalog one day be available!
"Ahab the Arab" has a long history. The original single appeared in 1962 on Mercury Records. A longer version was featured on the "1,837 Seconds of Humor" album. You can find this version on "Best Of," Rhino, "All-Time Hits," Polygram, or "20th Century Masters," Universal. The 1970 "Best Of," Mercury, featured a live version. Even if you can find a copy, I don't recommend it.
Many compilations, including "All-Time Greatest Comedy Hits," use the remake from the 1969 Monument "Gitarzan" album. Ray also redid the song for his "Get Serious" video. The soundtrack can be hard to find. Still another remake made it on his recent "Box Set," Curb. Note: almost all of his hits on this collection are remakes.
Faleena was the Mexican girl from Marty Robbins' "El Paso." She later got a song of her own. The Monkees had a hit with "Valleri." Simon and Garfunkel sang about "Cecilia."