Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Gong for Ray

Ray Davies was awarded a knighthood in the New Year honours. If the name means nothing to you then read no further. For those of us of a certain age, he was the perfect antidote to the (mainly American) manufactured pop singers of the 1960s. Unlike almost all of his contemporaries on either side of the Atlantic, Ray wrote songs about Britain and sang them in an English accent. The Kinks were never as musically brilliant as the Beatles, as exciting as the Who or innovative as the Pink Floyd but they produced a body of work (nearly all written by Ray with some by brother Dave) that spoke directly to me as a teenager growing up in the sixties. Ray would never have written a line like "JoJo left his home in Tucson, Arizona" (Get Back, The Beatles) or droned on about how he missed Massachussets (The BeeGees) or claimed to have met a "gin-soaked, bar room queen in Memphis" (Honky Tonk Women, The Rolling Stones). He sang about people trapped in poverty dreading the knock for the rent (Dead End Street), the fragility and charm of English culture (Village Green Preservation Society LP) and the simple pleasures of seaside holidays, football and beer (Autumn Almanack). His heroes did not find glamour in New York, LA or Paris - they met amidst the crowds outside a tube station (Waterloo Sunset) and his antiheroes chased the moment in vain (Dedicated Follower of Fashion) or found success unbearable (Sunny Afternoon, End of the Season). And who has ever written a love song based on meeting your girl for a cup of tea (Afternoon Tea)? Ray Davies, Sir Ray, did.

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