With recent talk of a possible (probable?) Kinks reunion, I feel compelled to share my experience with one of my all-time favorite rock icons, Ray Davies. He is one of the handful of rock artists who has mastered multiple mediums – music, performance, writing – and who brought his own style of defiance and craftsmanship to each one.
My older sister was a Kinks fan, so I had been exposed to their music when I was very young. I recall hearing her play 45’s of “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night”. Good beat and you could dance to them. Some people recall events or people from their early childhood…I remember music.
Perhaps I was a distant fan of the Kinks, or a fan of the familiar, much as I was a Beatles or Jimi Hendrix fan. But I still knew the lyrics to all of their hit songs and sang along when one came on the radio. We all know “Lola” and “Celluloid Heroes”, right? While many of the popular rock bands of the era are forever locked in that time period, Kinks music endures.
But I guess it was because of my idol, Chrissie Hynde’s relationship with Ray Davies that I became interested in learning more about Ray and his music as I came into my own. (See my post about Chrissie below: “She Called the Shots and They Followed”) When they released “To the Bone” (live recording/compilation) in the mid 90’s, I bought the CD set for my older sister who had introduced me to the Kinks, and also bought a copy for myself. I must have listened to that CD hundreds of times, singing along with all of the classics, and learning some songs that were new to me. I decided that “I’m not like Everybody Else” was going to be a theme song for me.
Spring forward twenty years when Ray does a solo tour and he actually stops in my city. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see him live for the first – and probably the only – time in my life. (Although if the recent rumors are true, I may well get another chance!) I was fortunate enough to get front row seats, and Alice Cooper and his wife were sitting right next to me – how cool is that?! I even got to shake Ray’s hand. The show was great – very intimate and he played all of the fan favorites. Of course, the encore was “Lola”, and he brought the opening band back on stage to jam with him. They completely rocked the song, and it was a blast – perhaps even cathartic? – to be dancing and singing along with them. It was a milestone show for me, as Ray Davies was the last rock icon I had on my wish list to see perform live. He was well worth the wait.
Favorite Song: Celluloid Heroes
Favorite Album: To the Bone (yes, it is a compilation, but most of it is live performance)
Favorite Lyrics: “Don’t forget to dance.” and “I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things.”
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