Monday, June 9, 2008

"I Can Make It Longer If You Like The Style, I Can Change It 'Round And I Really Wanna Be A Paperback Writer..."

Work has commenced for me on this analysis of The Kinks, most of tonight being spent gathering historical details surrounding the prep, recording, and release of the Lola album.

Yeah, it's crucial I get the historical details, because more often than not Ray Davies' mood affected his work - and vice versa if they were on tour (Dave and the rest of the band, too, with the rapid personnel changes between 1976 and 1979 forcing Ray to install a revolving door at their studios. Not really, but you get my drift...), never mind contemporary events in the UK and US being rife with potential song topics in songs like "Low Budget", "A Gallon Of Gas", and the magnificently cynical "Give The People What They Want," commenting on the recession of the late 1970's, the oil shortage of the same era (though its lyrics have been ringing truer by the day since roughly September 2001, it seems...), and violence in the media, respectively.

More important for me though, and I almost lost sight of this until I read Tom Kitts' sublime write-up for the actual song "Lola," is that my critical analysis will be making up the core of this project. Dates and events are finite: The Kinks played at this venue on this date, etc., that's not what this is about - though it is educating me and giving me an even greater insight to the music - this is about analyzing, of debunking when possible and at other times deciphering Ray Davies' career-spanning knack for ambiguous and at times bipolar lyrics.

My favorite example of this is what I consider to be one of the finest lines of prose ever committed to paper, and it stands up just as well to Shakespeare, Poe (both of whom I adore), or any of the Czech masters of poetry:
"I never thought I'd love like this until I met you,
I found something I thought I'd never have.
The only time I feel alive is when I'm with you,
I wonder how long it will last."

- "Something Better Beginning," 1965

Other times, Ray can use his ambiguity for comedic purposes, as evidenced in "Lola":
"Well, I'm not the world's most masculine man,
But I know what I am - I'm glad I'm a man
And so's Lola."

- "Lola," 1970

Is Lola glad? A man? Is Lola glad that "she" is really a he?

Never mind, just sit back and enjoy the song, though take a mental note of what the champagne at the club in Old Soho tastes like, as we'll ruminate on this just a little bit in the near future:

Might as well introduce you to these mugs, since you'll be hearing so much about them for this next chunk of my life.
Ray Davies - Lead vocals, guitar, idol of my youth
Dave Davies - Lead guitar, vocals, the cute one
John Dalton - Bass, backing vocals (1969-1976)
John Gosling - Keyboards, backing vocals, hair (and oddly enough he has a classical background and was a church organist at the time of his joining the band. He currently teaches music somewhere in the UK.) (1970-1978)
Mick Avory - Woefully underrated drummer (1963-1984)

As for the other bassists, keyboardists, and drummer (only one) they've had besides the guys you see here...guess you'll just have to stick around for the next several months before you meet Andy Pyle, Bob Henrit, Gordon Edwards, Pete Quaife, Mark Haley, Ian Gibbons, and Jim Rodford and learn just when they fit into the puzzle, never mind what they look like.

For the record, I had a good weekend, but if you couldn't tell by the time at which I posted this, both the stress of that thing I was talking about at the end of my last post (well, thanks to M@, two things - wink) and having to do real work has resurrected my insomnia. But hey, 90% of this blog was written out of insomnia, so I can't be too harsh on this sleep disorder.

No matter. One thing will be taken care of by week's end, the other...I just don't know. But this Kinks project is a labor of love. Trust me. I'd rather be doing this than prepping some bullshit Master's thesis on film. In fact, I'd rather be doing this - sitting around, thinking and writing about The Kinks - than pretty much anything else.



m@ said...

Your inclusion of the "cast of characters" will be an invaluable tool as I continue reading your work. Thanks again for thinking of we, the unwashed, ignorant masses. And by masses, I mean the two or three of us who read this who may need things like that.

I agree about the prosaic nature of the writings. As you probably know, I've always considered music lyrics to be some of the most inspired poetry around.

Shelley said...

I think Ray is just as cute as Dave, just in different ways.

I remember reading the lyrics to "Lola" several weeks ago and couldn't help but chuckle. I hadn't realized (because I never read the lyrics) that Lola could possibly be a man. Oh that Ray is full of laughs.

As I've said, this project is something you'd do anyways. In fact, you pretty much do it verbally to me everyday.