Ray Stevens performs and tells the stories behind some of his biggest hits, including “Guitarzan,” “Everything is Beautiful,” “Mr. Businessman,” and “The Streak,” during a 2014 Songwriter Session at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Country Music Hall of Fame member also performs snippets of some of his topical and humorous hits, including “Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick-Dissolving, Fast-Acting Pleasant-Tasting Green and Purple Pills,” and “Ahab the Arab.” In a more sentimental segment, Stevens shares “Be Your Own Best Friend” and “Just for the Hell of It” (one of several Ray Stevens songs on the soundtrack to 1981 film “The Cannonball Run”), and “Nashville.”
“I’m a crisis writer—I wrote many of my songs the night before the session,” Stevens says during the performance and interview, before turning his attention to the string section, horns, background vocalists, and rhythm section he’d hired a few days earlier to accompany this performance. “. . . This whole arrangement deal was a crisis.” With the help of arranger Bergen White, Stevens had stayed up nights to prepare charts for the musicians.
In a brief interview, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum senior historian John Rumble asks about Stevens’s start in the music business, his creative process, and the elements essential to a hit song.
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