Happy Birthday, Dave Davies: The Kinks' 10 Best Songs
Kinks guitarist Dave Davies turns 70 years old today, believe it or not. He formed the Kinks with his brother Ray (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), with whom he has had a rocky relationship over the years, back in 1964 in Muswell Hill, North London. Also including drummer Mick Avory and bassist Pete Quaife, the Kinks were briefly a part of the British Invasion of the U.S. along with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits and the Animals; the band’s third single, “You Really Got Me,” released in August 1964, featured loud, distorted guitars and became an international hit.
Altogether the band had five Top 10 singles on the U.S. Billboard chart and 17 Top 20 singles and five Top 10 albums in the UK, selling 50 million albums worldwide. The Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, their first year of eligibility.
Despite all their success, I always felt the Kinks were somewhat overshadowed by their peers the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, especially in America; the band has always been well-respected by other artists, and music historians have acknowledged the Kinks as having been extremely influential in the development of hard rock, heavy metal and punk, with the band being labeled "the original punks" by some. Here’s a look back at some of their best songs.
10. "Till the End of the Day" (1965)
Written by Ray Davies, "Till the End of the Day" is a song celebrating young love, youth and freedom from responsibilities with the lyrics: “You and me we're free/ We do as we please, yeah/ From morning, till the end of the day/ Till the end of the day.” The power chord in the song can’t be beat; the song reached No. 8 on the UK charts and number 50 in the U.S.; founding KISS lead guitarist Ace Frehley is a huge Kinks fan and recorded a version of the song for his covers album Origins, Vol. 1, released in April 2016.
9. "Where Have All the Good Times Gone" (1965)
Released as the B-side to the aforementioned "Till the End of the Day," "Where Have All the Good Times Gone" was the second Kinks song covered by Van Halen after the success of their version of “You Really Got Me” from their fantastic self-titled debut; David Bowie also covered the song on his 1973 album Pin Ups. Davies has said the lyrics were inspired by the older people he met in pubs in Britain who were complaining about high taxes and the lack of high-paying jobs; I can’t help but think that this song’s title could equally be relatable to both Donald Trump supporters and his detractors at different points in time; sorry, couldn’t resist.
8. "A Well Respected Man" (1965)
"A Well Respected Man" is a song about class consciousness in Britain and the conventions of the English middle and upper classes, though Americans could relate to it as well presumably since it reached No. 13 on the U.S. charts. Written by Ray Davies, the lyrics are satirical and comment on the hypocrisy and tedious boredom often present in a 9-to-5 so-called respectable career and conservative lifestyle that many in the West aspire to but ultimately are unsatisfied with.
7. "Tired of Waiting For You" (1965)
Written on a train to the recording studio, with lyrics written at a coffee shop during a break, “Tired of Waiting for You" comments on the romantic and sexual frustrations of a guy getting the brush-off from a girl he is interested in; the song was another hit for the Kinks, reaching No. 6 in the U.S. and No. 1 in the UK.
6. “Destroyer” (1981)
Like every song on our list, “Destroyer” was written by Ray Davies; the lyrics reference the earlier Kinks song “Lola” with the leading man becoming paranoid after taking Lola back to his place. The song also uses the main riff from the band’s 1964 song "All Day and All of the Night." When I was younger I thought the lyric was “paranoia will destroy ya,” but the correct lyric is “paranoia, the destroyer.”
5. “Come Dancing” (1982)
I'm an '80s kid, and this is my personal favorite song by the Kinks. It’s catchy and fun to sing along with, and the video makes me nostalgic for the early days of MTV. Ironically, I don’t dance at all; Ray Davies's older sister, Rene, sadly died of a heart attack in 1957 while dancing at a dance hall, inspiring him to write the song. It's a nostalgic look back at Rene’s days of dancing at clubs in the '50s and does not comment on her death. "Come Dancing" reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, tying with the aforementioned "Tired of Waiting for You" for the Kinks' highest-charting single in the U.S.
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