Sunday, November 29, 2009

I bet you danced a good one in your time

Over two years had passed since The Kinks released Low Budget in 1979. Other than the One For the Road live double LP, there would be no new Kinks product until early 1982 with the release of Give The People What They Want. During that span I lost track of the band that had been such an important part of my life during the 60's and 70's. Fresh out of college I started a couple of synchronous but separate careers, one of those being a part time symphony musician. The duality of my professional life spilled over into my personal life, for as often as I listened to a Mahler symphony I was just as likely to put the latest Elvis Costello LP on my turntable. The pop side of my brain was voraciously consuming the great "new" music being produced on both sides of the Atlantic. In the span of a year I completely abandoned the latest output of the ex-Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, and all the other bands of my youth. In their stead came the Talking Heads, Pretenders, The Clash, Devo, B-52s, Madness, and a couple of dozen other bands of that period.

I was very aware of the Kinks' new found success with State of Confusion in 1983, as Come Dancing was all over MTV and the radio. And I was happy for them, but at the same time saddened that it just did not connect for me. I had become like a caffeine junky needing the latest fix of new wave outlandishness to keep my interest. There would be no more Kinks vinyl added to my collection after Low Budget. And in terms of my current Kinks blog project I have also come to the chronological end, although I will eventually go back to cover the first four US LPs that I skipped at the beginning of the month.

Years after the release of SOC I discovered a song that - believe it or not - had escaped my notice. This song had sneaked under my radar but once I heard it I was instantly addicted. Don't Forget to Dance may be the most touching song in the Ray Davies songbook. Who else would write a song about an lonely aging woman, the story told from Ray's vantage point, encouraging her to dance so that she can forget her loneliness and remember a time when she felt vital?

"But that's no reason to just stop living. That's no excuse to just give in to a sad and lonely heart."

And the line that just sends a quiver through my heart, as a retort to the younger apemen who taunt her for her age:

"And when they ask me how you dance, I say that you dance real close."

There is nothing in the synth-addled background that would identify this as a Kinks' song, but dammit the synths and the background vocals and Ray's lilting lead vocal and the percussion 101 drumming coalesce into a sum much greater than its parts.


tbrough said...

There's not only that one, but the rending sadness of "Property."

"we never needed them, but they've outlasted us."

Brings a tear to my eye every time.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Never heard this one before, Mr. P! Many thanks for the introduction! The concept of seeing old folks as interesting -- and as people who might just possibly have been young once themselves -- makes more sense to me with each passing year ... funny how that happens :-)

The EC-McCartney masterpiece Veronica is another fine example.

Holly A Hughes said...

Any video that features Ray Davies in a pencil mustache has to be a winner. Although I must say, I wanted the camera to linger on young singer Ray, in his white DJ, wiggling his butt...

Indeed, this song is a beauty -- the perfect complement to Come Dancing. But as tbrough said, you definitely should take a listen to Property; that's a real heartbreaker as well. That Ray Davies, he has a lot of soul.