Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pastor Ray Davies

He always seemed God-haunted to me.

As a music and culture-saturated kid in the 1960s,
his songs resonated with me in ways I was not in touch with,
but was
in tune with.

Throughout every era of his bizarre, ever-morphing kinky band and identity;
laced through some of the most amazing and unforgettable
and some of the most abtuse and forgettable
concept albums and character sketches..

prophetic and pathetic
numinous and naughty
sexual and spiritual
ethereal and eerie

inevitably leaked from his soul.

Sehnsucht and Melancholia.

Social satire you could dance
to...or not.

Serious satire with a wink...or not.

Sometimes throwaway, halfprocessed journal entries.

Whether about The Big Question directly, or about an accidental date with a transvestite ("Lola")

It just came out of the Kinks via singer/lyricist Ray Davies..

..and all most people know is the staccatoriff that may have singlehandedly launched punk rock only twelve years ahead of its time; "You Really Got Me."

Ahead of

their time, indeed. Even as I type, Radiohead's "Airbag" is playing in the next room; its riff, lyric and persona feel very Kinkish. (Both these bands at their best have delivered what Bono keeps threatening U2 will: "punk rock from Venus" with social commentary. And you can dance to it. Kinky!)

is enlightening.

"I've realized how difficult it is to be on your own after being in a group for so long," says Davies, who led the Kinks for thirty-two years. "I want to feel I'm in a band, but I'm not. That's the biggest problem I've had in recent years."

Rolling Stone follows up that quote with:

This is quite a statement, given what Davies went through in 2004, when he was shot by a mugger in New Orleans. The injuries were much worse than reported at the time, and Davies still hasn't fully recovered.

But Frank Lake (Clinical Theology) is right...

emotional/existential/spiritual pain/angst/lament/pain;
especially as channeled into the need/sehnsucht/cry for
("I don't much want to tour, except for the community of Kinks fans. They meet each other at my gigs, which hasn't happened for a long time. That's ic;">the only reason I would want to tour: the community.")

can feel and be far worse a pain than any physical pain we can imagine.
Such stuff bullets your blue sky, and sends you into psalms and hell-on-earth;
and turns your heart and hunger toward connection and collaboration:

is often far " a="" suffering="" than="" any="" physical="" pain="" we="" could="" imagine="" or="">

"Getting shot is easy compared to creating an identity for yourself as a solo artist," Davies says, picking at his baked avocado, which is oozing grease and smelling bad. He's speaking like a depressed person. Minimal volume. Minimal affect. "I don't want to treat musicians like hired help. I encourage a collaborative spirit.."

And on the ride from the restaurant to his home, he laments:

"There aren't any proper pubs in England anymore. They're all gastro-pubs. If you want a decent pint, you have to go to Ireland. The pubs, the churches — all dying institutions."

Uh, yeah.

"Another reason I wanted to move to New Orleans was to escape Tony Blair," says Davies. "I'm a socialist, and Labor is not socialist anymore. The working man is still downtrodden and unheard. And now they're vanishing. Blair came in and it became uncool to be working class. Everybody aspired to be something a little bit better. Nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself, but when you forget your origins — that's bad. That's why I don't fit into this culture anymore. I take the side of the underdog."

Davies sips his tea and thinks.

"I don't justify the guy who shot me," he resumes. "But I kind of understood. Maybe he didn't have such a great life. I don't know."

That itself summarizes one of my seminary life-lessons reading Frank Lake.
Maybe Davies is prepping to be a pastor in is second career; wounded healer indeed...

For example, he'd also be good at bucking the matrix/institution:

"Universal, they've culled the tunes, they've cut out this, and kept that, and I've inherited all this bullshit. So it's the illusion that you can get by without a 9-to-5 job. Most of my time was taken up dealing with corporate people, the bullshit people. And I've had to deal with bullshit for most of my career. Does Bob Dylan have to deal with the same thing? I talk to more lawyers than I do musicians. The reason I don't give up is that I want to be an annoyance to the bean counters for the rest of my life."

And he's already leading the kind of organic, relationship-based, weeklong pastor seminars...uh, excuse me, musician seminars...that our church network does:

A tall middle-aged man in a fat winter jacket shyly approaches Davies at the table. He appears to be a fan, then Davies has a moment of recognition, and they talk warmly for a few minutes, shaking hands when the man departs. "He was one of my songwriting students," says Davies. "I do a songwriting seminar — it's residential, and it lasts a week. I was trying to arrange the exchange of schools between New Orleans and London before I got shot. I was trying to expand it just to get kids writing and feeling good about themselves. Like this guy I just talked to. He's not a student, just someone who took a different route than I did. He's done the day job, he's getting near the end of his career. He's always wanted to be a songwriter, and he decides, 'I'm going to do it.' So he takes the course; he can express something he wants to say, and he feels great at the end of the week. It keeps something in him alive, because the guitar does mean freedom. Everyone deserves that space to dream of freedom...

Then the clincher, that seems to capture Davies' own dilemma and Godstruggle:

... but it gets harder and harder to earn that dream time."

1 comment:

  1. "I'm a socialist, and Labor is not socialist anymore"

    and you are quoting him????????Supporting him????

    that is so wrong on so many levels


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!