Monday, November 9, 2009

Little man's weak and big man's strong

Even when his is pissed off, Ray Davies can be hilarious. And he was very po'd when he wrote many of the songs on Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One. Mostly ticked at big business, especially the record biz (more on that in a minute). Granted there are some warm and lovely songs here, including a beauty written by Dave - Strangers - and Ray's touching but subtle warning to his brother - A Long Way From Home. And of course there is Lola, which resurrected The Kinks career and proved without a doubt that Ray is the king of the 45 rpm single. Too bad that the glory days of top 40 radio were already on the wane.

The success of Ray's little ode to a transvestite resulted in his pithy recount of its effects in Top Of the Pops. His anger reaches even deeper in The Moneygoround, which includes his astute observation:

"Everyone take a little bit here and a little bit there
Do they all deserve money from a song that they've never heard
They don't know the tune and they don't know the words
But they don't give a damn"

The song could have been an ultimate downer if not for the cheery musical hall treatment that turns the anger into one of the funniest songs in the Kinks career.


Holly A Hughes said...

Excellent choice! Ever since I listened to this album the other day, bits of this wicked little song have been echoing in my head.

This song really is laugh-out-loud funny, and yet underneath it all Ray is still stinging. I love the part where he exclaims so woefully, "I thought they were my friends!"

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Another amazing video find Mr. P. (I’ve favorited a zillion Kinks videos but somehow managed not to find ANYTHING you’ve posted so far!), and a pithy analysis that's right on. You’re so right, here the band is hilarious and so … freaking … smart. I wish to god John Fogerty (and even the Beatles) had seen the absurdity of pinning one’s hopes on litigating “right to the end” when even if you get your money you’ll be “too old & grey to spend it.”

A hundred years after Edgar Allen Poe created the “unreliable narrator,” Ray Davies reinvented The Reliable Narrator. In this song as in many others, Ray is everyman: he’s an honest man, he’s getting screwed, and he’s smart enough to know it. He’s completely credible, completely decent, and we’re all rooting for him.

Mister Pleasant said...

Wise words, Who Am. When I think about the four years of hell the Beatles put themselves through with lawsuits and counter-lawsuits and the effect that had on their careers and lives - in the end what good came from it?

Ray Davies even as a young man was the wise old sage of rock'n'roll.