October 7, 2010

Let's Hum some Ray Stevens songs...

I wish I had a chilly steak right about now...or perhaps any variety of soft drinks that Ray mentions in the Dixieland flavored "I'll Be In Atlanta" which is one of the songs that'll have you humming along when you hear it. The song doubles as a clever tribute to Gone With the Wind as Ray name drops several characters from that movie in addition to singing the praises of Atlanta and southern culture in general. It's one of my favorite songs from the Hum It CD...I love the way his voice exudes excitement when he proclaims the area to be the promised land. When he sings the chorus I can picture him in his car driving slow on any number of Atlanta, Georgia streets shouting out how wonderful it is to be there...I think it could make a good music video for tourism in that part of Georgia but I highly doubt such a thing would ever happen. It would be fun to see Ray dressed up in costume as Gone With the Wind characters {males and females} and then see him literally in a car down in Atlanta taking in the scenery.

There are nine other songs on this comedy CD and just about all of them poke fun or skewer some kind of topic or trend. In a rare occurrence, on this CD Ray does a parody. Some may think that all of Ray's songs are parodies but they're actually not. A parody is when one spoofs something that already exists. Song parodies are the most common...movie parodies are also frequent where comedies are built around spoofing a particular genre. Airplane was a spoof of airport disaster films. Get Smart was a spoof on James Bond. In Hum It, Ray spoofs the Johnny Cash hit "Daddy Sang Bass". In Ray's version it's retitled "Mama Sang Bass" and it hilariously tells the story of a couple who bring their work home with them to the extreme. Mama spent her days working on steroids while Daddy worked in a different part of the factory making birth control pills. Somewhere along the way Mama and Daddy began to switch roles through some sort of hormonal breathing and it really started to get embarrassing for the couple while in church sing-a-longs...Mama had developed a deep voice while Daddy sang tenor. Gospel singer, J.D. Sumner, was the guest vocalist portraying Mama. It's one of those songs you have to hear to believe. It's absolutely nuts...in a great way!

I recall when Ray debuted this CD and he performed the song with Sumner...in the performance Sumner was wearing a female wig. Don't quote me but I think the television show they appeared on together was Prime Time Country. That particular program aired from 1996-1999 on The Nashville Network. It had replaced Music City Tonight which had been hosted by stalwarts Crook and Chase since 1993. Tom Wopat and later, Gary Chapman, were the hosts of Prime Time Country.

Ray only performed "Mama Sang Bass" that one time...as well as "Virgil and the Moonshot" but in his other television appearances he'd perform "Too Drunk To Fish" and "My Neighbor". I also recall him performing "It Ain't Over Till It's Over" to close out one of the shows...it has that uptempo sing-a-long feel. "Virgil and the Moonshot" and "Too Drunk To Fish" were made into music videos. The song about Virgil is a spoof of Apollo-13 while the other featured music reminiscent of JAWS at the beginning. "Sunday Morning" is track number five...it, along with the previously mentioned "Mama Sang Bass", currently figures into a new compilation CD from Ray titled A Funny Thing Happened In Church Today which will be released October 12th.

Several people are misinformed about the eye-catching CD cover of Hum It. A lot of people assume that Ray's dressed up as Norman Bates' mother from Psycho. In reality, though, Ray is dressed as Whistler's Mother. The joke is the mother is tired of "whistling" and so she decides to "hum it" instead. The son is pictured as a basketball referee...blowing his whistle. The cover is a spoof of the painting by James McNeill Whistler of his mother while it doubles as a gentle teasing of their last name. Research indicates the painting originated in 1871.

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