Song Of The Day 7/18/2016: Ray Stevens – “Sunset Strip”

The Hidden '70s, Part 1 – There's a lot to dislike about Ray Stevens, studio musician turned songwriter turned comedian turned poptimist turned comedian again turned video marketer turned... oh Christ, now he's a fucking birther. Perhaps you disliked Stevens for his presciently racist novelty hit "Ahab the Arab." Or maybe you cringed at the syrupy dross of "Everything Is Beautiful." Or perhaps you experienced wretching innervations upon commencement of his nope-back-to-novelty-for-you #1 hit "The Streak." Or maybe you start thinking about cemetary plots upon hearing his pseudonymously issued remake of Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" sung entirely in chicken clucks. Well, at least that last one's subtle.

I'm not gonna talk you out of any of that badness 'cause we're all entitled to our feelings. I'll just try to come up with a couple of good things about Ray Stevens. I like his voice. That is, the one he uses when he's not mangling it into cartoonish squawks. "I Need Your Help Barry Manilow" is spot-on and contains some stand-alone gem lines like "My ficus plant has lost its will to live."

Then there's today's song, "Sunset Strip" (#81, 1970). This was culled from Stevens' Unreal!!! album, concocted to showcase his songwriting outside of the novelty genre. Yes, it contains some head-scratchers like "America, Communicate With Me." And I'm not sure whether I like "Sunset Strip" or just can't get the refrain out of my head. Or whether it cops Brian Wilson or Harry Nilsson, or maybe it's just the Association. Or whether, given his religiosity, he really did hold Sunset Strip in high regard as he does here. It's difficult to see anyone wearing such gigantic collars being accepted into the Los Angeles community. I just know this song's affected my life and it hasn't been all bad. Yet.

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