November 21, 2008

Ray in the wilderness

In 1986 Ray recorded a trio of songs that took place out in the woods...amongst nature's animals. The above video montage is of "Camp Werthahekahwee". The song is about summer camp but it includes funny lyrics and situations, typical in most Ray Stevens novelty songs. The history of the camp is explained during the song...Ray telling us that it was started by a Chief who stumbled upon an area of land but lost his sense of direction and could never make it back home. An example of some of the funny lyrics are "just a bit northeast of nowhere, founded on a swamp" which is explaining the location of this camp. The chief's name is Dog-Gone-If-I-Know. The song carries a boy scout/summer camp feel...the music sets the mood. The song has a funny twist in the end when Ray goes to pick his son up at the camp.

"The Camping Trip" is a song about a family that goes on a camping trip and the predicaments that soon plague this family. The song is mostly a spoken recording with Ray telling us about the trip...throughout the recording we hear Ray's "thoughts" coinciding with his re-call of the camping trip. This is marked by Ray's voice sounding distant, like we're hearing the thoughts inside his head. A lot of the humor comes from the mundane things everyone does when camping...pitching tents, telling ghost stories, etc. but in this recording those things are told with a twist. For instance, in the song, Ray's wife decides to bring everything with her...creating the image that this family is way out in the wildnerness with no electricity but yet the wife wants to bring curling irons and hair dryers. The price of the camping equipment is also given...well over six thousand dollars...a humorous comment on the over-priced equipment campers take along with them. Disaster soon strikes as campfire sparks drift to a pile of leaves and this starts a fire which consumes just about everything in sight. Then, the fire is put out by a almost flood-like rainstorm hits their camp site. Then, the family is attacked by a bear...they escape, though, with Ray thinking to himself how he was conned into embracing the great outdoors and stating that next summer he'll be going to Hawaii or other tropical locations.

"Smokey Mountain Rattlesnake Retreat" tells the story of a married couple who go out into the woods and sit in during a rattlesnake revival. The couple apparently is not aware that the church uses rattlesnakes and that provides the bulk of the song's story. The wife, Doris, turns out to be a participant in the chaos as she faints but is soon brought back when a huge snake is dropped in her lap. Then, as Ray tells us, Doris becomes a possessed worshiper who comes across as Lash LaRue and she swings a rattlesnake around and around over her head like a rope. The chain of events comes to a head, literally, as she smacks the snake apparently on a church pew and it's head comes off and sails across the room...not only that, Doris tap dances on top of a group of snakes that are crawling on the floor.

These songs are on Ray's 1986 album Surely You Joust and more recently he has re-recorded the second two songs and they appeared on his 2008 album, Hurricane.

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