May 26, 2009

Ray Stevens: Gather 'round that Radio...

In this particular blog entry I'm focusing on a specific comedy song from the Ray Stevens 1980 album, Shriner's Convention. The song is the hysterical, outrageous, irreverent, and some even may call it blasphemous: "The Dooright Family". The song at it's basics is simply a spoof of those religious revivals that are commonplace, typically in the deep South, but they're no stranger to other parts of the country. To examine the song even further, if one is inclined to do so, the opinion one has after they hear it is mentioned, people who hear it are either amused or outraged by the satire and humorous goings-on within the song. For instance, the family is in constant competition with each other...they talk over one another...they're very proud of their radio's made clear that the family is on a traveling tour spreading the gospel as they see the country in their lavender bus. In a reference to money, the Dooright's bus comes complete with a shower...big doing's for a deep South gospel family out on the road.

Photobucket There are some very strong personalities amongst the Dooright particular Brother Therman who is notorious for going into manic fire and brimstone-style preaches. Daddy Dooright tries to hold the family together as the chaos ensues all around him. Brother Virgil, the family's deep bass, has one specific job and that's punching Mama Dooright when she goes off into one of her uncontrollable fits of laughter after preaching her sermon on sin and temptation. Rounding out the family are Sister Doris and Sister Dewdrop. Brother Therman has a memorable sermon in the song...speaking out against sin and discotheques in particular...protesting at how people gyrate around. Brother Virgil, thanks to Therman's sermon, decides he wants to check out those discotheques for himself. Therman's in horror while Mama interrupts with her sin and temptation speech...and once again to shut her up, Brother Virgil punches her. This "punch" is heard on the recording...the listener is suppose to imagine Mama being punched and she falls face forward into the piano, which creates a gunshot sound effect. There is a reference to "speaking in tongues" and we hear a woman {Ray} speaking in tongues to comical effect.

Ray portrayed all of the characters in this recording. The dubbed-in laughter and applause was a part of his comedy records for years.

Photobucket In 1995 he re-recorded this song and made a music video of it, changing pieces of the original song in the process. The music video appears on his VHS movie, GET SERIOUS. In the music video, however, Ray only portrays Daddy Dooright while co-stars from the movie portray the other characters, lip-syncing to Ray's recording. In the music video there isn't any reference made to "speaking in tongues". That reference was edited out in favor of an alternate line...but the music video is still hysterical.

Shriner's Convention featured nine songs:

1. Shriner's Convention
2. The Last Laugh
3. Rita's Letter
4. The Watch Song
5. The Dooright Family
6. Hey There
7. Put It In Your Ear
8. You're Never Goin' To Tampa With Me
9. Coin Machine

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