Ahab the Arab

Ray Stevens

About Ahab the Arab

"Ahab the Arab" is a novelty song written and recorded by Ray Stevens in 1962. In the song, Arab is pronounced "Ay-rab" to rhyme with Ahab. The hero of the story is Clyde the camel and Stevens has made references to Clyde numerous times throughout his career. It followed "Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick-Dissolving Fast-Acting Pleasant-Tasting Green and Purple Pills", becoming his second top 40 hit. It reached number five on Billboard's Hot 100 and number nine on the Billboard R&B chart. It remains one of the best-selling records of Stevens' career. Stevens has recorded the song at least three times and there have also been edited versions. 


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(intro: Arabian flute)

Let me tell you about Ahab the Arab
The sheik of the burning sand
He had emeralds and rubies just drippin' off 'a him
And a ring on every finger of his hand
He wore a big ol' turban wrapped around his head
And a scimitar by his side
And, every evenin', about midnight
He'd jump on his camel named Clyde, and ride

[Spoken] Silently through the night to the sultan's tent where he
would secretly meet up with Fatima of the Seven Veils,
swingingest grade "A" number one US choice dancer in
the sultan's whole harem, 'cause, heh, him and her had
a thing goin', you know, and they'd been carryin' on
for some time now behind the sultan's back and you
could hear him talk to his camel as he rode out across the
dunes, his voice would cut through the still night desert
air and he'd say (imitate Arabic speech and finish with "Sold! American)
which is Arabic for, "Stop, Clyde!" and Clyde'd say, (imitate camel
sound), which is camel for, "What the heck did he say anyway?"

Well, he brought that camel to a screechin' halt (verbal screeching sound)
In the rear of Fatima's tent
Jumped off Clyde, snuck around the corner
And into the tent he went.
There he saw Fatima layin' on a zebra skin rug
[Spoken in falsetto and possibly with female backups] "Rings on her fingers and
bells on her toes and a bone in her nose ho, ho."

[Spoken]   There she was, friends, lyin' there in all her radiant
beauty, eating on a raisin, grape, apricot, pomegranate,
bowl of chittlin's, two bananas, three Hershey bars,
sipping on a RC co-cola listenin' to her transistor,
watchin' the Grand Ole Opry on the tube, readin' a Mad
magazine while she sung, "Does your chewing gum lose
it's flavor?" Yeah, Ahab walked up to her and he say,
(imitate Arabic speech), which is Arabic for "Let's twist
again like we did last summer, baby.!!"  Ha, ha, ha!!
You know what I mean! Whew! She looked up at him from off the rug,
give him one of the sly looks,

She said (suggestive giggles, then outright laughter) "Crazy, crazy, crazy baby!"

('round and around and around and around, and around and around and around)

Yeah, and that's the story 'bout Ahab the Arab
The sheik of the burnin' sand
Ahab the Arab, the swingin' sheik of the burnin' sand

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Ray Stevens

Harry Ray Ragsdale (born January 24, 1939) known by his stage name Ray Stevens is an American country music, pop singer-songwriter. more »

2 fans

Written by: RAY STEVENS


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10 facts about this song

Song Creation
"Ahab the Arab" is a novelty song written and recorded by Ray Stevens in 1962. Stevens wrote the song himself, making it one of his earliest self-authored hits.
Chart Performance
Although it did not top the charts, "Ahab the Arab" did well. It reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100.
Cultural Background
The song tells a comedic, exaggerated story of a Bedouin tribesman and his trusty camel, Clyde.
Due to its use of ethnic stereotypes, "Ahab the Arab" has faced criticism. Its portrayal of Arab culture has been described as offensive and in bad taste.
Live Performances
Despite the controversy, "Ahab the Arab" remains one of Ray Stevens' most popular songs. He often includes it in his live performances, alongside other hits like "The Streak" and "Everything Is Beautiful."
Revised Version
In response to the controversy and changing cultural attitudes towards racial humor, Stevens released a revised version of the song in 2012. This version removed many of the ethnic stereotypes and adjusted the lyrics to be less offensive.
Album Placement
"Ahab the Arab" can be found on Ray Stevens' debut album "1,837 Seconds of Humor", released in 1962.
Style Classification
The song is often categorized as comedy or novelty music. This genre is characterized by its humor and often absurd scenarios or lyrics.
Video Representation
The official video for "Ahab the Arab" features Stevens in comedic Arab costume, further adding to the novelty feel of the song.
Later References
The name of Ahab's camel, Clyde, was later used in another of Stevens' songs, "Gitarzan," as the name of a gorilla. This reference is one way that Stevens has built continuity across his discography.

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