Thank You For The Days – Happy 71st Birthday, Ray Davies
NOTE: This post was originally published in 2011, on Ray’s 67th birthday. I have updated it for his 71st.
And now a quick birthday post about Raymond Douglas Davies, the original Muswell Hillbilly, who was born on 21 June 1944, making him 71 today!
Forever “Ray” to us Kinks fans, this is a man who has cheated death (he was shot in the leg in New Orleans after a botched robbery on the street), and who (with his brother Dave) probably defined UK rock star sibling rivalry for a whole generation, pre-Oasis, anyway.
Quintessentially English, Ray Davies is considered, by musicians and songwriters like myself, to be a master storyteller (lyric-wise) and an expert melodicist. Unlike many of his contemporaries, save for Pete Townshend of The Who, what set Davies apart from his British Invasion compatriots was that, while all of the bands looked to American (and Black) R&B for their predominant influence, Ray (and to some extent Pete) put not just a London accent on it, he put a London essence into it.
Arguably, Ray is descended more directly from the cheeky chappy Music Hall stars of his parents, the George Formby types, but clearly, his decidedly more earthy, worldly approach was more direct and less prone to sexless innuendo. The Kinks were a little dirty, but in that naughty way that Brit bands seem to understand better than North American bands. Of course the Kinks influence continued and continues through later bands like XTC and Blur, while even Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker has more than a touch of the Ray in him.
Here are only a few of my favourite Ray Davies songs with The Kinks. There are plenty more.
Well Respected Man
This next one was used in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore to great effect, and Beck even covered it,
Nothing In This World (Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl)
And yes, how can I not play…
I want to recommend that you read Ray Davies’ book
X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography
X-Ray is part biography and part made-up storytelling. In fact it may be the first autobiography to warrant filing in the Fiction AND Non-Fiction sections.
Anyway, Happy Birthday Ray! I will now post all three episodes of this Kinks documentary from 1994.
The Kinks (Part 1 of 3)
The Kinks (Part 2 of 3)
The Kinks (Part 3 of 3)