Cut Study: Ray Stevens “Caribou Barbie”

Ray Stevens- We The People

Disclaimer: The song, “Caribou Barbie,” is a political song with a definite point of view.  This post, however, is NOT political.  The point here is to share the process by which the song got cut.  It appears on Ray’s album, “We The People.”

I was blessed to have written “Caribou Barbie” for Ray Stevens.  Ray is a comedy legend with songs like “The Streak” “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival” and “Everything Is Beautiful.”  Today, I’d like to briefly discuss how we got the song cut and what you might learn from it.

I captured the title in my hook book.

I heard Sarah Palin referred to as “Caribou Barbie” during the 2008 Presidential campaign.  My brother-in-law, Matt Cline, was contemplating a political comedy album, and we thought it would be a good title- even though we didn’t know how to write it.  When McCain / Palin lost, I tucked the title in my hook book, figuring it would never be relevant again.

I had access to the artist’s camp.

Matt was published by Ray Stevens at the time, and we were hoping Ray would do a political album.  When he finally decided to, we started pulling ideas together for it.  If I hadn’t had access to the camp via Matt, I wouldn’t have even heard about the project until it was already finished.

I squeaked my wheel.

I was over at Ray’s office one day, and he was in a meeting.  When Suzi, Ray’s daughter, poked her head out, I offhandedly said, “Hey, I have a song idea for Ray.  It’s about Sarah Palin, and it’s called “Caribou Barbie.”  She laughed and went back into the meeting.  Later that afternoon, I was over in Ray’s parking lot picking up my car when Ray happened to walk outside.  He said, “Hey, I wanna hear ‘Caribou Barbie’.”  I said, “I’ll write it!”

I picked my cowriters strategically.

Since the artist had already said he wanted to hear my idea, I knew it would be easy to find a cowriter.  So, the question was, “who’s best?”  It was an easy call- Matt Cline and Max T. Barnes.  Both these guys wrote for Ray’s publishing company, so he’d have extra incentive to cut it.  They were also dialed in to the project, having songs in the mix already.  Plus, they’re a great hang and really good writers.  I called them up, and we met at Ray’s the next morning.

We wrote the song with the artist in mind.

Obviously, we kept Ray top-of-mind as we wrote the song.  What does Ray want to say?  What’s his musical style?  Is X-Y-Z his brand of humor?  We wrote it and laid down a worktape that day.

We pitched the song directly to the artist.

The next day, Matt and Max played “Caribou Barbie” for Ray.  We were open to his suggestions, but other than a few tweaks Ray made in the studio (including the word ‘jackass’- that wasn’t me), it was pretty much the same.

There you go.  Preparation (hook book) + access (cowriter) + action =  a cut.  Every cut has its own particular details, but I hope my story helps you on your journey.

God Bless,



You can check out “Caribou Barbie” on iTunes by clicking here.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

What did I miss?  Anything you’d like to add or ask?  Leave a comment! (Unless you just want to go on a political rant- that isn’t the point of this blog or post.)


Big shout out to Gord Bamford, who has the #1 country song in Ireland this week (Dec. 2013) with a song we wrote called, “When Your Lips Are So Close.”  It hit #1 in Canada a couple weeks ago, and it’s good to see it making its way across the globe!


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