Ray Davies

By Stephanie Zacharek


Salon Staff
August 24, 2000 11:29PM (UTC)

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Stephanie Zacharek's article on Ray Davies is quite simply one of the best pieces on the singer/songwriter I have ever come across, and believe me, I have read a lot on the man. The article takes a serious look at Davies' music and his persona and offers the kind of criticism and praise I wish most journalists would strive to match. Zacharek's opinion echoes my own: It is so easy to recognize what music was uninspired and what Ray Davies songs one can roll oneself up in like a warm blanket and stay comforted and protected forever. Thanks again for a great article, which makes me feel that at least one person in the music press actually gets it.

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-- Anthony Bosco

Thank you for taking the time to point out the greatness of Ray Davies and the Kinks. I have always loved their songs, but have only just begun to collect them on CD. The best part about your article is that you failed to mention any of the songs or albums that I cannot stop singing along to. It really illustrates the true depth of Davies and the band as artists -- that you and I can both be such devoted fans, and barely cross paths.

-- Daniel Murphy

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Stephanie Zacharek does a good job of praising Ray Davies' better days while avoiding, for the most part, the obsessive fanaticism of the average Kink chronicler.

It may be dismal to declare that his best work is behind him, but so it is for Van Morrison, Jagger and Richards, Pete Townshend, Paul Simon and most other pop singer/songwriters over the age of 50. Most of them seem to run out of interesting things to write and play about. But, of course, every now and then they surprise you, as Paul McCartney did a few years ago with "Flaming Pie."

How the British press could leave him out of a Top 100 Brit list is beyond me. Perhaps Davies' melancholy nostalgia, staked out at such a young age, still troubles the shallow pop ear, and his "Storyteller" shows play primarily to the true believers.

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Still, his 25 best songs would stand strongly among all his contemporaries, British and American, and will always surprise and delight the unsuspecting first-time listener, as well as someone returning to "Big Sky," "This Time Tomorrow," "Rosie ..." "Better Things" and, truly, "Waterloo Sunset."

-- Dan Oppenheimer

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Stephanie Zacharek's article was generally excellent, but I was surprised that she failed to mention a key linchpin reference contained in the song, "Waterloo Sunset," about which she otherwise waxed eloquent.

The "Terry and Julie" she refers to from the lyric are Terence Stamp and Julie Christie, stars of the film, "Far From the Madding Crowd," which was current around the time the song was composed. One might suppose that some of the thematic and cinematic detail Zacharek refers to was at least thusly inspired.

All of which is not to take away the slightest bit of complexity, artistry and poetry reflected in "Waterloo Sunset" discussed by Zacharek. She's certainly right to go on about it, and about Davies.

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-- Jim Bickhart

There was no "altercation" between the Kinks and U.S. concert promoters. The Kinks were made to be scapegoats by those who were contemptuous toward popular British groups. In Sacramento, Calif., one promoter accused the Kinks of failure to appear in concert, when, in fact, there was no commitment, or booking. The book "X-Ray" provides some detail, as does a mid-'80s biography, "The Kinks."

During the mid- to late 1960s, the Kinks were banned from touring the U.S. and they received no airplay after "Mr. Pleasant." Ultimately, the Kinks were made to sign an apology/agreement for something that had never occurred in the first place! After said document was signed, permission was granted to the Kinks to tour the U.S. in 1969.

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-- Joseph G. Jimenez


Salon Staff

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