Ahab, The Arab

Album: 1,837 Seconds of Humor (1962)
Charted: 5


  • This novelty song is about a "sheik of the burning sands" named Ahab. Every night he hops on his camel named Clyde on his way to see Fatima, who is the best dancer 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, and living happily ever after.
  • Asked by NashvilleGab if he's ever received any criticism for the song, Stevens replied: "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."

    "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."
  • Clyde the camel was named by Stevens after former Drifters lead singer Clyde McPhatter. For several years in the late 1990s and early 2000s Stevens released albums and video entertainment under the label Clyde Records (complete with camel-shaped logo).
  • Stevens originally named his music publishing company after the song, calling it Ahab Music, Inc. He changed the name to Ray Stevens Music in 1977.

Comments: 2

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaOh so want to meet this man. He always makes me laugh. in fact every time I see the Tiny Toon's cartoon about (Istanbul) Constintanoble I call that camel Clyde.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm {01-11-2018}...
    Ray Stevens opened his 'CabaRay Showroom' in Nashville on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018, as it was declared 'Ray Stevens Day' in the city by the Mayor...
    Exactly forty-seven years earlier on January 10th, 1971 Ray Stevens' "Briget the Midget (Queen of the Blues)" was at #54 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, two weeks later it would peak at #50 {for 2 weeks} and it spent ten weeks on the Top 100...
    And on March 28th, 1971 it peaked at #2 {for 3 weeks} on the United Kingdom's Singles chart, for the 3 weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for those 3 weeks was "Hot Love" by T. Rex...
    Between 1961 and 1979 he had twenty-seven records on the Top 100 chart, four* made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, "Everything Is Beautiful" for 2 weeks in 1970 and "The Streak" for 3 weeks in 1974...
    Mr. Stevens, born Harold Ray Ragsdale, will celebrate his 79th birthday in two weeks on January 24th {2018}...
    * Besides his two #1 records, his other two Top 10 records were "Ahab the Arab" {#5 in 1962} and "Gitarzan" {#8 in 1969}.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Graham Parker

Graham ParkerSongwriter Interviews

When Judd Apatow needed under-appreciated rockers for his Knocked Up sequel, he immediately thought of Parker, who just happened to be getting his band The Rumour back together.

Gentle Giant

Gentle GiantSongwriter Interviews

If counterpoint and polyrhythms are your thing, you might love these guys. Even by Progressive Rock standards, they were one of the most intricate bands of the '70s. Then their lead singer gave us Bon Jovi.

Protest Songs

Protest SongsMusic Quiz

How well do you know your protest songs (including the one that went to #1)?

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney Princesses

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney PrincessesSong Writing

From "Some Day My Prince Will Come" to "Let It Go" - how Disney princess songs (and the women who sing them) have evolved.

Sam Phillips

Sam PhillipsSongwriter Interviews

Collaborating with T Bone Burnett, Leslie Phillips changed her name and left her Christian label behind - Robert Plant, who recorded one of her songs on Raising Sand, is a fan.

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"They're Playing My Song

Dean's saga began with "Ariel," a song about falling in love with a Jewish girl from New Jersey.