Ray Davies

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Otis Westinghouse
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Ray Davies

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sun May 16, 2004 7:25 pm

Anyone over here see that very nice Ray Davies documentary on ITV tonight? Couldn't quite work out why he was recording duet versions of Kinks classics among other stuff for a new solo LP, but it was a great programme. He was so likeable, and very smart and interesting too. I've always admired The Kinks/RD from afar, never really got further than admiring lots of their songs, especially Waterloo Sunset, but it was nice to get more of a sense of chronology and how it fitted together.

And of course EC was there making lots of positive noises, as well as Bowie, Weller, Geldof, Difford and others. In fact, this was one of the most enjoyable parts, they all had such unbounded love and admiration for the man, that it was a very moving tribute, without getting sycophantic. Ray's voice still sounds fantastic. Wish I'd seen him on his one-man tour.

I'll have to get some Kinks in the house. Original studio LPs or a Besty Of?

One thing I do have which is priceless is some video footage of Ray at Glastonbury (maybe from the same year as Radiohead, '97, but could be later), and when he sings Waterloo Sunset, the camera holds on the face of a guy in the audience for a few seconds, and his eyes are closed tight and he's singing along and really feeling every word of it intensely. He is truly in paradise. It's one of the best pieces of crowd/fan footage I've ever seen.
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Postby DrJ » Sun May 16, 2004 8:43 pm

There's a great two-cd Ultimate Collection, that's good.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 10-4267831

For me this year has been soundtracked by the albums Lola Vs. The Moneygoround, Arthur and Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. There's a three cd version of the latter coming out in June. Yay.

As I recall, I believe our moderator Mr.Bluechair will be happy to back me up on these choices.

This is a very good tribute album with Ron Sexsmith and a brilliant track by Fountains of Wayne:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 10-4267831

I enjoyed the documentary because it's nice to see and hear these songs on the TV, but you could figure out pretty quickly the arc/angle the show would follow. Hits => Clever Songs => English Songs => Went to America => Remaining 5% of show devoted to last 75% of career. Ho hum.

It's 2.45am and I've just watched The Importance of Being Morrissey doc on Ch4, that was excellent. Great footage of Moz in a strip club, showing Nancy Sinatra round his house and driving his convertable Jag around. Such a funny guy. Remimds me of the day I stalked him outside a bookshop, ahhhh....

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Postby selfmademug » Sun May 16, 2004 9:58 pm

DrJ wrote:There's a great two-cd Ultimate Collection, that's good.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 10-4267831



That looks quite good. By quick count, I only know 16 of those songs (11 on the first disc). Will have to add it to my shortlist, cause they're a band I'd really like to know better.

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Postby PlaythingOrPet » Mon May 17, 2004 4:17 am

The docu was lovely. I'd go for the Best Of DrJ points out, Otis - 'tis v.good. You can usually find it in HMV in the 3 for £20 offers they have.

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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Mon May 17, 2004 4:39 am

Ta, Dr J and POP, that looks like the real thing. All the hits I know, plus the three essential known-to-me-only-as-covers (David Watts, Stop Your Sobbing, Where Have All The Good TImes Gone?). The tribute LP looks good too, especially as Ron is on it! I wish it was someone other than Damon doing Waterloo Sunset. I have a tape with him doing it (on The White Room, if anyone remembers that), and although it's a nice way of him honouring the immense debt to the Kinks that Blur have, it shows up his limitations against Ray's.

The Kinks seem to be a band where a best of is the best place to start, rather than a couple of treasured LPs. More of a singles band than an LPs, like, ironically, The Pretenders. True or bullshit? Or is it just that if you get into the best of enough, you will then seek out the originals? What wold the connoisseur's rate as their finest LPs?

The Kinks always remind me of Carlos, a bizarre student I taught English to in Madrid in 1986. He was facially not dissimilar to Ray Davies, and his hair was styled to look like his hero's in the archive footage from the 60s we saw last night. He was totally obsessed with them. His main interest in learning English was to better understand their lyrics. After a few weeks in my class, he plucked up the courage to ask me a favour: he gave me several pages of incomplete lyrics off one of their LPs (one with no lyrics sheet, obviously), and asked me to fill in the blanks. Some of it was very difficult. Of course now you'd access it all in three seconds via Google, but at the time this was a big deal for him (and me). I remember not being that impressed with the LP, but can't remember which. Good old Carlos, he had an impressive vocabulary, and would often cite the songs where he'd learned words from.
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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Mon May 17, 2004 4:47 am

PS Dr J, hope you're not working this morning! I enjoyed that programme, and with Moz much in mind at the mo', was planning to locate the tape (out of my totally chaotic archive) that I recorded it on when it first went out. Knowing the difficulty of this, and my appalling addiction to not going to bed until two hours after I know I should, I was tempted to stay up too. Thank God I didn't, and I'm at home this morning, wasting the time away here when I should be cleaning the kitchen floor, etc.
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Postby DrJ » Mon May 17, 2004 11:25 am

On a break from work at the mo', actually, so staying up late is an option.

And I see you kicked the Kinks off the Tower of Song... explain yourself!!!

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Postby pophead2k » Mon May 17, 2004 11:29 am

That tribute CD, with Ron Sexsmith, Cracker, etc. is fantastic. I've had it for the past six months or so and I have not tired of it at all. Highlights include Lamb, the Steve Forbert tune and whoever it is doing 'Muswell Hillbillies'. I'm proud to live in Ray's adopted hometown, even if one of us did shoot him. :oops:

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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Mon May 17, 2004 1:40 pm

DrJ wrote:And I see you kicked the Kinks off the Tower of Song... explain yourself

Er, um, well, you see, it was before I saw the docu and had my interest in him increased x 500. It's quite stabdard for people to ditch stuff they don't know, and it had been there a while, and it was probably put there by some bastard who kicked one of my babies out (or was it you? :oops:).

Who shot him and why? What was all that about him being banned from the US for three years? (I missed some of it.)
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Postby DrJ » Mon May 17, 2004 3:39 pm

In the words of A Quick One: You are forgiven.

The specifics of the row between the Kinks and the American Musicians' Union that kept them out for three and a half years escapes me now, it might have been a visa thing, I can't say.

The documentary didn't mention the shooting at all. Ray was shot by one of two muggers in New Orleans when he tried to stop them from running away with Ray's ladyfriend's bag.

Here's a Kinks equivalent of JohnE's EC site:
http://kinks.it.rit.edu/

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Postby El Vez » Mon May 17, 2004 4:04 pm

In regards to the tribute album-

I thought Lambchop knocked it out of the park with their take on Art Lover. Kurt Wagner's voice is an acquired taste but he was PERFECT casting for that particular song. Like some sort of demonic, drugged out lounge singer.

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Postby norman brain » Tue May 18, 2004 6:32 pm

Hey, Otis. If you get a chance, also check out SOMETHING ELSE BY THE KINKS. It's one of their finest albums, and is the original source for "Waterloo Sunset."

I also love the three that Dr. J recommended. There's good stuff from every period. One of my favorite overlooked '70s albums is their MISFITS.

Their catalog is rich. You can have fun discovering hidden treasures for years!

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Postby BlueChair » Tue May 18, 2004 6:39 pm

I am a huge Kinks fan, though my knowledge of the Kinks is limited to the period from 1964 to 1970. I think my favourite album would have to be Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, but Arthur and Something Else are both great albums as well.
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Postby invisible Pole » Fri Feb 03, 2006 12:02 pm

Ray Davies solo album "Other People's Lives" gets rave reviews.
This one's from PopMatters (and EC gets mentioned as well) : http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/revi ... les_lives/

Ray Davies
Other People's Lives

(V2)
Rating: 9 [out of 10]
by Will Layman

This is a brilliant album—a collection of smart, funny, catchy, soulful, touching songs that come from a pen you might have forgotten over the years. But how many rockers can make a chorus of the phrase, “Is there life after breakfast? Yes there is!”?

One: Ray Davies.

Pop songwriting can be so many things—and it usually isn’t. A great pop song is a condensed gem that can swing from love to tragedy in eight bars—or from the horrible to the hilarious, from the hopeful to the wistful. Terrific pop songwriting simultanesouly entertains and reveals, and it does it in the name of increasing your pulse and swishing your hips back and forth. When it’s done right, it’s genius. But how often is that?

Mr. Ray Davies has done it more than almost any other man in rock, and Other People’s Lives is as a good a collection as you’re going to hear in 2006. “You Really Got Me” and “Lola” made Mr. Davies’ band, The Kinks, the rawest and weirdest of the British Invasion bands. When they were a mop-topped garage band, The Kinks were the scrappiest. When they adopted British folkisms, The Kinks did it without preciousness. When Mr. Davies wrote linked song cycles, they were the smartest. And when the 1970s and punk dared him to mature, he found ways confound critics with a minor masterpiece (Sleepwalker, the band’s 1977 Arista debut) and a deeply ironic hit song ("A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” from 1978’s Misfits).

So how can it be that one of the greatest rock songwriters is only now releasing an album of spanking new material?

Well, you could get analytic about it, but Other People’s Lives will quickly end your discussion. Now long-released from commercial expectations or the directive to write for a narrow “Kinks” identity, Mr. Davies is producing crazy, crafted, witty music—the kind of stuff that reminds us that the best rock writers have always just been good songwriters, regardless of style. Like Elvis Costello, Mr. Davies wears his rock persona easily into middle age, while not being afraid to incorporate the odd saxophone or bossa nova coloring. These are great pop songs put across in fantastic performances.

“Things Are Gonna Change” snaps the album open with organ-and-guitar rock built on heaping doses of melody: a great riff, a bitten-off verse, a rising chorus, and a strong bridge. Mr. Davies sings about “the barrier we cross” as “we crawl outside ourselves”—an optimistic song about the “morning after” something that might be 9/11 but is just as likely a smaller problem—yours or mine. The second song starts to bring the album title to life—the first in a series of character-driven songs: “I just had a really bad fall, and this time it was harder to get up than before.’ Mr. Davies cranks his voice into a nasal overdrive, but still harbors optimism—seeing the moment “after the mist clears” even though the narrator is a “sinner waiting at the travelers’ rest seeking refuge from the storm” who is “falling upwards into the great, wide blue”. The song explodes outward with exuberance on a great Fender power chord.

The quaint side of Ray is in evidence too, though. “Next Door Neighbor” is a classic Village Green Preservation Society-esque story that floats on a bed of horns and a jaunty beat. And the humorous Ray is everywhere: “Is There Life After Breakfast?” doles out feel-good advice with tongue in cheek, and “Stand Up Comic” starts with a culture-mocking monologue suggesting that “Shakespeare is the schmooze of the week and anyone who says different is a fuckin’ antique” and “now the clown does a fart and we all fart back . . . and that’s that.” But as much as anything, we get the best Ray of all—the songwriter who can manage to be sweeping and grand without ever seeming to reach too far toward anthem or bullshit. “Creatures of Little Faith” moves inevitably toward its irresistible chorus, but it does so through lyrics detailing a domestic dispute. “All She Wrote” starts with a break-up letter sung over folk-guitar simplicity, then it explodes into a funky rock that dismisses the “few cute lines to get my goat”. “Over My Head” rises up on heartbreak again, the narrator reaching for optimism by letting negativity fly over his head, powered by a wah-guitar groove punched up by grand piano thump. If you heard this stuff coming from a car window in June, you’d want to push the accelerator down, but you’d listen to the lyrics too.

Some critics will surely want to accuse Mr. Davies of reaching too far beyond his style or audience. “Other People’s Lives” has a Latin rock feel, a female background croon, and references to internet-spread scandals. “The Getawa (Lonesome Train)” is, essentially, an alt-country song with a Neil Young twang. But these tracks aren’t betrayals of some patented “Kinks Sound” as much as further demonstration that Mr. Davies has always been more a songwriter than a “rock songwriter”. Whatever window dressing he may find for each song’s proper style, Ray’s British growl and snarly pout tells each story with humor, affection, and conviction.

This is a great collection of songs from an artist who has not tested our affection with meandering solo material or endless mercenary reunion tours. He’s the real thing: a rocker who’s an artist. And with Other People’s Lives, well, he’s really got you.
------------------------------------------------------

Sounds great! Have to put it on my wish list.
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Postby bobster » Sat Feb 04, 2006 1:34 am

Sounds great. I grew up hearing and more or less loving the Kinks, but mostly by osmosis. For some reason, I've never owned any of their albums. Possibly because a lot of their output during the time I was bying a lot of records was sort of scattershot sounding, but Davies is obviously one of the best talents of his errors and, overall, I think I'd put his songwriting above Jagger-Richards any day.

Sirius has been playing the heck of a "Yours, Truly Confused N. 10" (no idea what the "N.10" part means...something very British, I'm sure) from a recent EP. It's been written that it's a song he wrote for his daughter's punk rock band that was rejected. It's a great little number, with more of that above referenced Latin jazz-pop feel. Really swinging. Great stuff.

What's interesting is that, unless I'm missing something, the lyrics -- in the form of a letter to the editor -- are pretty rightwing, even reactionary, sounding. It sounds to me practically like the British "Okie from Muscokee." Is there sarcasm or irony that I'm missing, or is Ray a big time Tory? When ever I've looked it up online, there's really been no direct statement whether or not these are his actual views. I'd sort of expect the British liberal press to make more of a big deal about this sort of thing.

Certainly, if Elvis switched sides and suddenly starting singing conversative leaning tunes, someone in the Guardian would be taking him to task.

Yours, truly curious,

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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sat Feb 04, 2006 4:25 am

N10 is the London postal code prefix for Muswell Hill, Rayland.

Here are the lyrics:

Dear Sir or Madam, I don't normally write to the press
But the neighbourhood where I grew up is really quite depressed.
Society is crumbling but the media's obsessed with boobs, bums,
Dot com, millionaires, fame, fashion, footsie shares
But people they couldn't care less.

While parliamentary yobbos shout abuse around the house
Do-gooders and reformers lead our nation to defeat.
While murderers and terrorists get compassionate release
You're out now. You're back on the street yeh, back on the street.

That's why I remain yours truly, confused N10.

I close my eyes and lay back and I think of England.
I dream about that green and pleasant land we knew as England.
That throne of kings, that sceptred isle set in a silver sea
Has turned into a laughing stock divided without harmony.

That's why I remain yours truly, confused N10

The burglars have ransacked all the houses in the street
While Mercs and Posches double park with sheer impunity.
When towed away the ponces plead to all and sundry
Referee what about me?

So forgive my lack of confidence and total low esteem
But the dog eat dog society has deemed us all has-beens.
While our smiling bland spin doctors slyly lead us down the track
to a stab in the back.

I'm much too terrified to go out at night but the television's boring.
They're vandalising all the cars on the street
but I won't lay down and take defeat.

That's why I remain yours truly, confused N10

Thank you goodnight

Quote from Ray on it here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features ... 62,00.html

"Yours Truly, Confused N10 ("which I actually wrote for my daughter's punk band, and they turned it down") chronicles the arrival of the get-rich-quick society in the area where he was brought up."

There's nothing overtly Tory about it, more just an indictment of the decline of his neighbourhood and nation. The anti-politician/government bits don't equate to being down on Labour and therefore pro-Tory. As the two things become increasigly more similar, someone with genuinely left-wing views would take such a stance, and the 'dog eat dog society' is very much the legacy of the Thsatcher era. The nostalgia for the 'green and pleasant land' is a bit old-fogeyish, but this is the man who wrote 'Village Green Preservation Society' way back when! Not surprised his daughter turned it down, a young punk band wouldn't be singing about being too terrified to go out at night. There's humous and irony in it, and I wouldn't see it as an overly literal statement of Ray's views on everything, but nor would I take it as an indication that he's 'reactionary' as such.
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Postby bobster » Sat Feb 04, 2006 1:54 pm

I think I was largely reacting to:

"Do-gooders and reformers lead our nation to defeat.
While murderers and terrorists get compassionate release "

Who are these terrible do-gooders and reformers who are so destructive to England? Again, in a U.S. context at least, "do-gooder" is always a put down of "bleeding heart liberals." I

As for the killers/terrorists getting compassionate release (which I'm assuming is the equivalent of parole here in the States), there may have been particular incidents that this is referring to, but none I've heard of here.

Of course, in the U.S., we've had twenty-five years of continuous crack downs, mandatory sentencing (expanded, not reduced, under the "leftist" Clinton) that resulted in minor drug offenders spending decades in prison, so this tends to set my teeth on edge. However, I imagine in the U.K. this might actually happen. Though it's not like Thatcher and John Major never happened.

"Has turned into a laughing stock divided without harmony."

Could be a complaint about lack of civility in political discourse (A justified charge, ofgten. But, where I live, it's usually used by the Right in the U.S. to hammer the left for, say, accusing the President of lying just before they impugn our patriotism and imply we sorta kinda like terrorists. It's basically a call for liberals to retreat and agree with conservatives on everything. U.S. conservatives want a "loyal opposition" that is so loyal, it never opposes!), but could also be about immigration. Also sounds the note of international insecurity that brings to mind many on the U.S. right.\

Songs like this, obviously always in the ear of the listener, in any case. And hey, in any case, a terrific tune.
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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sat Feb 04, 2006 3:51 pm

Yeah, it's reactionary. There have been cases of IRA members released in the name of the Good Friday agreement and the pursuit of peace in Ireland. It is a pretty right-wing stance to denounce it. Anyone know anything about Ray's politics in general?
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Postby King of Confidence » Sat Feb 04, 2006 11:25 pm

I happened to hear 20th Century Man on my ipod last night, and noticed that it wasn't exactly a valentine to progressivism. I don't know anything about his politics per se, but the new song (haven't heard it) seems somewhat of a piece with the disillusioned romantic libertarianism, for lack of a better label, on Muswell Hillbillies.

This is the age of machinery,
A mechanical nightmare,
The wonderful world of technology,
Napalm hydrogen bombs biological warfare,

This is the twentieth century,
But too much aggravation
It's the age of insanity,
What has become of the green pleasant fields of Jerusalem.

Ain't got no ambition, I'm just disillusioned
I'm a twentieth century man but I don't wanna be here.
My mama said she can't understand me
She can't see my motivation
Just give me some security,
I'm a paranoid schizoid product of the twentieth century.

You keep all your smart modern writers
Give me William Shakespeare
You keep all your smart modern painters
I'll take Rembrandt, Titian, Da Vinci and Gainsborough,

Girl we gotta get out of here
We gotta find a solution
I'm a twentieth century man but I don't want to die here.

I was born in a welfare state
Ruled by bureaucracy
Controlled by civil servants
And people dressed in grey
Got no privacy got no liberty
Cos the twentieth century people
Took it all away from me.

Don't wanna get myself shot down
By some trigger happy policeman,
Gotta keep a hold on my sanity
I'm a twentieth century man but I don't wanna die here.

My mama says she can't understand me
She can't see my motivation
Ain't got no security,
I'm a twentieth century man but I don't wanna be here.

This is the twentieth century
But too much aggravation
This is the edge of insanity
I'm a twentieth century man but I don't wanna be here.


Pretty great song though. Got me into the Kinks generally.
I'll put it to you plain and bluntly
I'm worried for my tired country.


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Postby bambooneedle » Sun Feb 05, 2006 12:34 am

Interestingly (at least to me),

...from Wikipedia: 'The Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, at which Davies was called "almost indisputably rock's most literate, witty and insightful songwriter." '.

This puts EC's induction into the RHF in a different light for me. He would have been aware of such pompous pronouncements being uttered.

EC: "Uh, it was a mistake". Sure...

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Postby hollyh » Sun Feb 05, 2006 4:25 am

Yeah, Ray's politics can be confusing. He was raised practically as a Socialist, and sometimes when you're so far left, it looks reactionary. Reactionary is a funny word---Ray is reacting to the abuses of the modern world, but I think his sympathy for the common man cannot be questioned. There's a difference between hating labor unions because they impede corporate self-interest, and hating labor unions because they don't take care of the individual worker the way they promised they would. Ray's would be the latter approach. He's a disappointed idealist, baffled when life turns out to be crap, but still somehow yearning for better things. Now this is a philosophy I can subscribe to.

What makes Ray Davies a great songwriter (and yeah, I'd say he's the greatest there is, much as I love Elvis) is that his songs are like perfect little novels, each of them a window into the life of some person, not necessarily Ray himself, but with enormous compassion. He has that novelist's gift for the telling detail that illuminates a whole life (Elvis also has this gift, which is why I love him too).

Other People's Lives (release date Feb 21 in the US, Feb 22 I believe in the UK) is a brilliant album. I have seen Ray live recently, heard a lot of these songs sung live, and it's amazing stuff. The thing is, with Ray Davies music, it gets better upon repeated listening. This stuff is subtle--but as Elvis fans, you've proven you can deal with nuance and wordplay and innuendo. Ray Davies is just more of the same, in spades.

If all you know is the power-chord stuff from the 60s -- You Really Got Me and All Day and All of the Night -- you have no idea what a genius Ray Davies developed into through the years. We US fans were cheated out of several years of the Kinks because of that stupid ban in the late 1960s (they insulted some A&R guys backstage on a US tour) but in the long run it was probably a good thing because the ban kept them from becoming ossified versions of themselves (like the Stones and the Who) and allowed them to develop creatively. I first became seriously hooked back in the early 1970s when Muswell Hillbillies came out -- now there is a brillliant album. But when you look at how many songs Ray Davies has written over the years, and the consistent creative quality of them, it's mind-boggling.

Place to start: The Kinks Kronikles is a great 2-CD compilation of their strongest late 60s work. To the Bone compiles live versions of a lot of their best songs. There's also a CD called I believe Lost & Found that compiles a lot of the best stuff from the 1980s.

Village Green is a great album but it can be a baffling place to start, until you get a bead on Ray's irony. Muswell Hillbillies is fabulous; so is Sleepwalker. Everybody's In Showbiz is good because it's got 2 discs, one with new songs and the other with live material (mostly from Muswell Hillbillies) which gives you a sense of Ray's campy performance style. Stay away from the Preservation albums (Act I and Act II) until you're deeper into Ray's Brechtian gestalt -- they have scared off many a potential Kinks fan, but dedicated Kinks fans love them the best.

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Postby King of Confidence » Sun Feb 05, 2006 4:36 am

Holly, thanks for the post. Very useful.
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I'm worried for my tired country.


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Postby pophead2k » Sun Feb 05, 2006 9:35 am

One of Ray's best lyrics that gets consistently overlooked is for Shangri-La, one of my all time favorite Kinks songs and performances. I don't think any song has ever so beautifully captured that drudgery of day to day life and the class system's effect up on it:

Now that you've found your paradise
This is your Kingdom to command
You can go outside and polish your car
Or sit by the fire in your Shangri-la
Here is your reward for working so hard
Gone are the lavatories in the back yard
Gone are the days when you dreamed of that car
You just want to sit in your Shangri-la

Put on your slippers and sit by the fire
You've reached your top and you just can't get any higher
You're in your place and you know where you are
In your Shangri-la
Sit back in your old rocking chair
You need not worry, you need not care
You can't go anywhere
Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

The little man who gets the train
Got a mortgage hanging over his head
But he's too scared to complain
'Cos he's conditioned that way
Time goes by and he pays off his debts
Got a TV set and a radio
For seven shillings a week
Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

And all the houses in the street have got a name
'Cos all the houses in the street they look the same
Same chimney pots, same little cars, same window panes
The neighbors call to tell you things that you should know
They say their lines, they drink their tea, and then they go
They tell your business in another Shangri-la
The gas bills and the water rates, and payments on the car
Too scared to think about how insecure you are
Life ain't so happy in your little Shangri-la
Shangri-la, Shangri-la la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Put on your slippers and sit by the fire
You've reached your top and you just can't get any higher
You're in your place and you know where you are
In your Shangri-la
Sit back in your old rocking chair
You need not worry, you need not care
You can't go anywhere
Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

By the way, here's a link to the best Kinks site, which has news, lyrics, chords for almost all the songs, etc.:

http://kinks.it.rit.edu/

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bobster
Posts: 2160
Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2003 12:29 am
Location: North Hollywood, CA

Postby bobster » Sun Feb 05, 2006 11:56 pm

My thanks to Hollyh as well. Though I remain maybe wondering if Ray has maybe turned the corner from being dissapointed in the failings of the welfare state to being completely against it and maybe taking on other trappings of the right.

He wouldn't be the first "angry young man" to go full on conservative in his later years, John Osbourne and Jack Kerouac come to mind and, as we've seen, he's got a sort of retro-tendency anyhow (though I fully sympathise with that and, at times, with the song "20th Century Man" I felt almost could have been written for me, except that most of my favorite things come from that century).

And then there's the shooting in New Orleans. It brings the mind the old U.S. saw that a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.

Regardless, William F. Buckley once defined conservatism as standing athwart history and yelling "stop!" I understand the impulse, and obviously so does Ray.
http://www.forwardtoyesterday.com -- Where "hopelessly dated" is a compliment!

hollyh
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 12:05 am
Location: NYC

Postby hollyh » Mon Feb 06, 2006 2:34 am

No, from all the interviews I've read with Ray over the past year or so, the shooting did not turn him into a bitter conservative. He did write an article (in the London Times? or maybe the Telegraph?) criticizing the current US administration for having failed New Orleans, for underfunding levee maintenance and for letting the infrastructure of the city crumble so badly that it was vulnerable to disaster. And for letting crime take over the poor black neighborhoods. Then he went on to say that the people of New Orleans were so wonderful to him during his long rehabilitation there that he will always have a fond spot in his heart for that city, and he donated proceeds from last November's Thanksgiving Day EP to an arts program for New Orleans public schools. This does not sound like a bitter man.

I think Yours Truly Confused N 10 doesn't 100 percent speak for Ray Davies -- it's like a monologue by a character he has invented, in which he expresses their view of life. Ray has also written a lot of sympathetic songs about drag queens, but that doesn't mean he himself is gay. Anyway, Yours Truly was written a few years back, I believe before the shooting (it doesn't appear on Other People's Lives).

I'm not sure how a satirist can help sounding reactionary at times. If you're going to criticize society, you're going to point out ugly facts of modern life. Tabloid journalism, street crime, government bureaucracy -- these are obvious targets for any satirists. I think Ray Davies' ideal world would be a classless society with no poverty--hardly a conservative vision.

Here are the lyrics from just one of the songs on the new LP:

Next Door Neighbours

Mr. Jones, my next door neighbour
I feel I've known you all my life
I haven't seen you for a while now
How's the family? How's that beautiful wife?
I hope your dreams were not forgotten
And you've become downtrodden

Get your health together
Get your wealth together
Get yourself together
Jones, you were my next door neighbour

Mr. Brown, you're so ambitious
You ran off with an Essex blond
You've broke the bank to keep two women
You're over extended, now it's all gone wrong
Now you're right back where you started
Still, you shouldn't be broken hearted

Get your mind together
We can still climb together
A step out of time together
Brown, your world was turned upside down

I know it's not the same
And everything changes
But behind front doors people think that they can hide
We win and lose, we laugh and cry
Live and learn, at least we try
Oh, give it a try....

Get your style together
Put a smile together
And we'll go miles together
All of my next door neighbours

Mr. Smith, another story
I wonder what became of him?
They say he threw the telly through the window
He went berserk and jacked the whole world in
They say he may have hit rock bottom
Still, he went out with a bang and so he is not forgotten

We had our tiffs together
Our rows and our rifts together
But let's learn to forgive together
Smith, you were my next door neighbour
Jones, you were my next door neighbour
Brown, you were my next door neighbour

This is a song full of sympathy and compassion for the human lot, not a conservative rant against the failings of modern society. Many of the songs on this album are about slogging through life, even when you've been kicked in the teeth, and how you summon up the courage to face it again and again. It's hopeful, in a wry sort of middle-aged way, with a voice tempered by experience. It's a beautiful thing.


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