May 18, 2009

Ray Stevens: 35th Anniversary of The Streak

35 years ago today, "The Streak" was #1 for the first of three weeks. The interesting thing was the single made it's debut barely a month earlier, in April 1974. It reached the #1 spot in it's fifth week...leap-frogging over a lot of singles in the process in one of the quickest climbs to the top.

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The single was all about the fad of running around with no clothes on. The fad most often happened on college campuses across the country but it also leaked it's way into everyday life, including streakers who'd streak just for the hell of it...some streaked for peer popularity on a dare...that sort of thing. The fad became notorious and streakers started to be a fixture on the daily newscasts...Ray got the idea of the song weeks before it became a national fad and ultimately released the song he wrote and it became the biggest single of his career.

A quick synopsis of the song is in order: Ray plays the part of an Action News reporter who wants to get the reaction of the average man on the street about the chaos taking place. Ray plays the part of the man on the street, as well. The reporter coincidentally runs into the same man three times in the song...prompting the by-stander to give his reaction and thoughts about the streaking event he witnessed. The by-stander's wife, Ethel, is never heard from in the song but he constantly warns his wife not to look when the streaker runs by. The catch-phrase "Don't look, Ethel!!" was born in this song.

Ray, as he performed "The Streak" in 1988. At the time of the performance he was enjoying a successful streak of hit comedy albums on the MCA label and thanks to a rather lengthy list of compilation albums issued from all sorts of record labels, his career continued to thrive as his older songs continued to be readily available...and in a testimony to the popularity of the song in his career "The Streak" was selected as the lead-off track on his Platinum selling 1987 album, Greatest Hits and his Gold selling 1990 album, His All-Time Greatest Comic Hits among many other compilation albums issued after 1975.

Ray continues to perform the song in concert...delivering the song almost exactly the way it's been delivered in concert the last 35 years with maybe a subtle lyric change here and there. The yellow CAT hat has become a permanent feature in the song...and anytime you see Ray in a CAT hat while he's on stage chances are he's singing "The Streak".

In recent years he's wore the hat in a lot of publicity pictures...for the cover picture of his 1991 album, #1 With a Bullet, Ray is wearing the CAT hat as well as for Comedy Video Classics a year later.

The song has spawned several catch-phrases: "yeah, I did" is the greeting given by the man on the street in all three occasions. "pardon me sir, did you see what happened?" is the phrase said by the reporter in all three encounters. "don't look, Ethel!!" is the phrase said by the man on the street afraid his wife is going to see obscene images. "boogity-boogity" is the phrase heard in the song's chorus and at other places in the song. Boogity-Boogity is also the name of the album that "The Streak" appeared on in 1974. The album's title is written in smaller print in the clouds of dust on the album cover. A lot of people mistakenly refer to this album's title as "Woosh" because it's written so prominently in big letters...but the actual album name is Boogity-Boogity.

Before you can ask if the album is available on CD or MP3, the answer is YES. The album was released on CD back in 2005 and then late last year it was re-released on CD as part of the "Only The Best of Ray Stevens" collection I wrote about in a previous blog entry.

6 comments:

  1. Hey, I stumbled across your blog accidentally while looking for information on Ray's new album....I am a longtime Ray Stevens fan myself and appreciate the information in this blog. It's just always good to meet a fellow fan.

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  2. Glad you like the blog...in my opening entry written months ago back in October 2008 the reason I started my fan blog of Ray was due to a lot of the blog's and other things on-line about Ray which consisted of inaccuracies and brief information so I purposely fill this blog page with just about as much information on Ray as possible.

    I've noticed some of my blog entries have been lifted and posted elsewhere by others but I have no control over that.

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  3. Can anyone tell me who the actress is that is Ethel in The Streak? She looks familiar.
    Bianca

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  4. I wish I knew the names of a lot of the people who appear in his music video's but I don't happen to know who she is. I know a few of their names but the actress playing "Ethel" in THE STREAK music video is one I don't.

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  5. Enjoyed the page! I was looking for a version of The Streak I heard on the radio in which Ray talks about the complaints he's had of the song's "vulgar" lyrics. And as a result, he's decided to class it up. The song then begins with a whole choir singing the chorus acapella. Any suggestions where to find this version?

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  6. That recording is from 1993. It originally was heard on the home video RAY STEVENS LIVE and it can be found on the CD version of that home video.

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