Ray Stevens Confronts Current Events and Brings Levity with New Video for ‘Hoochie Coochie Dancer’
Ray Stevens believes people who are “bending to the will” of those seeking control “are doing the world a disservice”
For the last six decades, Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Stevens cultivated an audience with comedic songs about everything from squirrels in church to a naked man running through a supermarket.
Friday he’s back with a 14-track collection of funny tunes. Dubbed “Ain’t Nothin’ Funny Anymore,” the album dives into current topics with playful takes on the border crisis with “Disorder Down on the Border,” the pandemic is acknowledged with “The Quarantine Song” and Stevens shares his thoughts on cancel culture with the title track.
“It’s perfectly legitimate to put out songs that are dealing with current events,” Stevens, 82, said. “I think that people who are bending to the will of the people who want to control everything are doing the world a disservice.”
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However, the album’s lead single is chuckling at much lighter fare. PEOPLE has the video premiere for “Hoochie Coochie Dancer,” which is about a naïve country boy who falls in love with a belly dancer at a carnival.
“He doesn’t realize he’s getting taken advantage of because he’s in love,” said the song’s writer Buddy Kalb, 83. “It’s a little mind movie. We got the carnival atmosphere. It was fun!”
Stevens and Kalb have been collaborators for more than 60 years. When it came time to shoot the video, the men loaded up in the car with a few friends and drove north to Clarksville, Tenneesee, to visit a traveling carnival. Stevens played a few games, carried around a big bear and the cameraman grabbed footage of the Ferris wheel and tilt-a-whirl so he could create the light-hearted atmosphere in the video. Then, they went back to Stevens’ dinner theater the CabaRay Showroom in Nashville, called a belly dancer and filmed the rest in front of a greenscreen on the stage.
“She was a sweet girl,” Stevens said of the dancer, and explained they shot the video in a couple of hours.
“Hoochie Coochie Dancer” is a song Kalb wrote years ago, but Stevens forgot he had it. The men went on a trip together, took a pile of songs to listen to and came across it again.
“I thought wow, that could be a hit,” Stevens said. “I was late getting to the studio to record it, but it turned out terrific.”
Stevens is releasing “Ain’t Nothin’ Funny Anymore” on Curb Records. When [label owner] Mike Curb’s wife said “Hoochie Coochie Dancer” was her favorite song on the album, too, Stevens’ decision was solidified.
“I think she’s got a good ear,” Stevens said of Linda Curb. “I was leaning toward it before she chimed in, but she put the icing on the cake. It’s a good song for any time.”
Kalb thinks the song resonated with Stevens because both men grew up in small towns with carnivals.
“I’m listening to Ray Stevens and trying to know him and what he thinks is funny and what he likes and then trying to come up with material that we would like,” he explained. “It was just funny, I think.”
The video’s been accessed by more than 230,000 people on YouTube since making it’s debut and there’s no telling how many people have watched it more than once. Since YouTube doesn’t count additional plays we’ll never know an actual play count…we’ll only know a unique view count. I liked reading about the making of the music video and how it was put together. I hope Ray does some more music videos. They visually enhance a song’s lyrics.