|Single by Ray Stevens|
|from the album Shriners Convention|
|Released||February 12, 1980|
|Ray Stevens singles chronology|
"Shriners Convention" is a country-and-western novelty song written, composed, and performed by Ray Stevens. It is based on Stevens' experiences at an Atlanta hotel where an actual Shriners convention was being held.
It is reported that some real-life Shriners groups are not fond of this song, as it appears to portray Shriners in a poor light. However, many other Shriners have taken the song as a harmless piece of humor, and have even welcomed Stevens's participation in fundraising activities, as Stevens's fame attracts attendees to charity events. It has been suggested that Stevens's presence indicates that Shriners have a sense of humor about themselves, making the group seem more accessible.
The backdrop of the song is the "43rd Annual Convention of the Grand Mystic Royal Order of the Nobles of the Ali Baba Temple of the Shrine."
The main humor of the song involves a one-sided dialogue, via hotel phone, between two members of the Hahira, Georgia, delegation: leader "Illustrious Potentate" (Bubba), and member "Noble Lumpkin" (Coy), who has gone rogue. Stevens voices Bubba, while Coy's voice is unheard, his comments made known only by Bubba's reactions to them. The basic format of these cutaways is similar to those of Shelley Berman and Bob Newhart.
Each verse of the song describes a different aspect of the convention: the parade, the convention banquet, and a ritualistic "secret meeting" (which is implied to be a poker tournament). With each verse, Bubba becomes increasingly upset with Coy's sophomoric actions during the convention. Despite the fact that the Shriners are supposed to be, as Bubba puts it, "pillars of the community," Coy has managed to pull off such hijinks as getting his Harley-Davidson motorcycle into his hotel room and on the high diving board of the hotel swimming pool, hanging out in the pool at 3 a.m. with the cocktail lounge waitresses, and—despite being purportedly married to a "Charlene," who apparently did not accompany Coy to the convention—having one of his girlfriends streaking through their banquet yelling out the "secret code," wearing nothing but Coy's fez. (Coy tried to deny this, only to have Bubba remind him that he was the only member whose fez had "a propeller on top.")
Eventually, after repeated attempts to warn Coy about his behavior, Bubba expels Coy from the delegation. Coy simply revs up his Harley and disconnects the call, after mentioning that he might join the Hells Angels instead.
A video for "Shriners Convention" appears in Stevens's direct-to-video film, Get Serious! The song also ties into the film's plot, wherein a genuine Illustrious Potentate and country sheriff named Bubba, along with his deputy Coy (who in truth somewhat enjoys being mistaken for the Coy of the song) and certain family members and friends, believe that Stevens is deliberately misrepresenting them in his songs. (All of this alludes to another Stevens song, "Dudley Do-Right of the Highway Patrol.")
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles||7|
|U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100||1|
|Canadian RPM Country Tracks||2|
- Music City News. June 1986.
- Editorial of a Canadian Freemason Lodge commenting on negative stereotypes in "Shriners Convention."