The Kinks, "A Rock & Roll Fantasy"

>> Friday, September 28, 2012

It just seemed like this was the logical third panel for an almost accidental triptych I started Wednesday and continued with Thursday.  I guess this would be a statement from the middle-aged schlubs as they're approaching middle-age.

I think everybody probably understands this one as Ray Davies talking to his brother and bandmate Dave.  I don't know how accurate that really is; it's probably covered in some biography or interview I haven't read  Everybody knows tensions came to be fraught between the Brothers Davies as the Kinks' career went on and on.  Here's a song, it seems, where Ray is asking his brother not to leave the band, or trying to plead the case for The Kinks kontinuing indefinitely into the future.  If I'm reading the Wikipedia entry correctly, Misfits, the album "A Rock & Roll Fantasy" originally appeared on, this was The Kinks sixteenth studio album in fourteen years; a lot of their peers had pretty much packed it in at that point, or were about to.

Listening to it, I don't know how well "Fantasy" holds up from the other side.  What I mean is, it's a phenomenal song, Ray Davies at his hook-writing best and solidly-framed lyrics, but I'm not completely sure if Davies was saying quite what he might have meant.  I don't know that saying a fan is "spend[ing] his life in a rock & roll fantasy... on the edge of reality" is necessarily doing your fans justice; though, then again, if he knows the world is "closing in", he may not be that deep into a "fantasy" to start with.
I might be overthinking it.  And if I'm not, Davies certainly isn't expressing the contempt for his people that Roger Waters hurls at Pink Floyd fans in The Wall (for that matter, it definitely isn't John Lennon suggesting Beatles fans are "fucking peasants" in "Working Class Hero", though we ought to be clear that Lennon is being more sardonic than vitriolic).  But I would also have to say Davies is being less empathic than Sean Nelson in "Little Round Mirrors", which I think is a song only a fan could have written.  (An interesting question: as much as rockers of Davies', Waters' and Lennon's generation admired American rock and R&B, were they ever fans, seeing as how modern rock fandom didn't really exist until Lennon's outfit basically invented--or at least catalyzed--it?  I think I intentionally phrased that in a way that it answers itself: no.)

While I'm overthinking it, I also can't resist pointing out that there may be something mildly patronizing in Ray Davies shaping his kase for The Kinks around how needy Kinks fans are.  I don't mean that there's anything wrong with looking out for your fans--lots of bands might do more of that--but there's probably a major difference between (for instance) Bruce Springsteen giving his fans the show he'd want to see if he was still out in the mob and Ray Davies suggesting to Dave that even if Dave's right that The Kinks are creatively bankrupt, they still need to keep putting out records because "Dan's" life will be so impoverished without a new Kinks record every year, who knows what he'll do in a life without meaning?
Only, of course, I guess we also have to consider, in light of the previous two panels of our accidental triptych, that maybe Ray's right.
Or a little right, at least.  I have to admit that even though I hadn't bought an R.E.M. album in more than a decade, last year's news that they were throwing in the towel did leave me feeling a little thinner in a Ringbearer kind of way (if you're not grokking the Tolkien reference, I guess you could replace "thinner" with "spiritually sucked-out", maybe).  And there's a certain sorrow in knowing there will never be another Pink Floyd studio record, even if my intellectual mind knows that this is really a very good thing.  So "Dan", if he's out there (and he is, though that may not be his name, or even her gender), probably does feel a little empty contemplating the hiatus The Kinks have been on since the mid-'90s (it's not officially a break-up, it's just Ray and Dave bouncing back and forth between a reunion's "possible" and they just can't stand each other for more than an hour).

I don't know.  But I think--and this is just speculation--I think the real answer on all this, the real final word, is that I just need to take Muswell Hillbillies for a spin this weekend and crank it.  It ain't their rockingest, but it is my favorite.



Wonderboy Friday, September 28, 2012 at 2:08:00 PM EDT  

Dan is out there, I know who he is too.

Wonderboy Friday, September 28, 2012 at 2:08:00 PM EDT  

dan is out there and i know him well.

Tennis Addiction Sport Club Friday, September 28, 2012 at 11:23:00 PM EDT  

This song is about starting over instead of throwing in the towel. It's not about talking his brother into staying, Dave wants to stay. It's not a put down to the fans, it's introspective. He's actually thinking of the fans first which is unusual in this business. He's saying there is no difference between him and the fans. It's about survival, just like most of Ray's songs! Don't compare him to John Lennon, he's not as bitter. And don't compare him to the rest of the "B" team! Everyone should use this song as an example to take stock of themselves and be honest about their life!!

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