Ray Stevens Says There’s ‘Nothing Racist’ About ‘Ahab the Arab’
Ray Stevens' novelty song 'Ahab the Arab' may have received some bad reviews for political correctness, but the singer says that there was no malicious intent involved in creating the tune.
When asked if he's ever received any criticism for the song, Stevens says, "Yeah, only from screaming liberal idiots. You know, some guy on MSNBC called me a racist; I doubt if he'd ever heard the song."
The song follows a character named Ahab as he hops on his camel Clyde every night to visit Fatima, who is described as one of the best dancers in the Sultan's harem. Ahab's visits with Fatima don't sit well with the Sultan, and the two end up escaping on Clyde, the fastest camel in the desert, and living happily ever after.
"When I was a kid, my mom gave me a book called 'Arabian Nights,' and I wrote the song just from information I learned outta that book. You know, the book talked about Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves and 'open sesame' and, you know, all the fun stuff that is in that book," Stevens says. "And so I thought, I'll write a [song] about this guy, and he's messing around with one of the Sultan's girls in the harem. There's nothing racist about it."
Stevens released the song in 1962, and by July of that year, it was sitting at No. 5 on Billboard's Hot 100 list. The singer's music publishing company was named Ahab Music, Inc., until he changed the name to Ray Stevens Music in 1977.