If you know this song, then you surely love this song. Who doesn’t? It would be so easy to take it and its wonderful lyric for granted, as we might so many of Ray Davies’ songs – ‘Waterloo sunset’, ‘Dead End Street’, ‘Big sky’, to name just three – songs which sound like they have existed forever and will go on existing forever. But listen again closely, as if for the first time. Hear a melody which has in it all the melancholic joy of the lyric. Hear those words, as particular as a prayer you’ve said from childhood. Recite them back. Believe them of yourself as if you were Ray Davies and had just written them (whatever or whoever he wrote them about). Remember that one day back in the sixties he had to bring this song into being, that it hasn’t existed forever. Hear in its unfolding how it will go on existing forever, an echo that will outlast the species of creature which created it.
Think of Kirsty MacColl’s wonderful version of it; think of her no longer being with us, and be grateful for still experiencing days. Think of the scene in Until the end of the world, Wim Wenders’ follow-up to Wings of desire, in which it is played and sung along to while Jeanne Moreau’s character lies dying. Think of how you found this single four years ago in a wooden crate in an antiques shop, its record company sleeve dishevelled, the vinyl dirty and more than a little scratched. Think of the lift it gave you to find it, of how you didn’t care one jot about its condition or the glaring mistake of the unnecessary apostrophe in the song’s title on the label. Think of how you only ever played it a few times because of all the scratches. Think of how you play your CD copy to your daughter, who of course doesn’t yet get it, who won’t get it for a good long while, you hope, because she is in among her days and has yet to lose something, anything, anyone. Think of so many things, of how songs like ‘Days’ and ‘This strange effect’ interweave with lives and can bring us to tears and make us smile and sometimes both at the same time for reasons at once hard to fathom and entirely comprehensible to any outside observer. God bless the Kinks. God bless Ray Davies. God bless everyone who loves this song.
These two pages from Pantry For The World are the continuation of the piece comparing and contrasting Momus and McCarthy (which began here), with dollops of Billy Childish, Wings of desire, Jeanette Winterson and Malcolm Lowry thrown in for good measure. Laying my text over an interview with Nick Currie from French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles, this is just about the best laid-out page I ever pasted together. I love the photo of McCarthy, obviously taken around the time they were releasing ‘Get a knife between your teeth’.
But my verdict on The enraged will inherit the earth was extremely harsh – ‘Sitar-y guitar sounds and meek mediocrity’! It’s a much better album than this suggests, and as one of only three McCarthy made, it has to be cherished, though it’s true it’s not quite at the level of their first and third. But it contains some of Malcolm Eden’s most striking lyrics (‘What our boys are fighting for’ neatly aligns soldiering and football hooliganism) and some of his most devastating, unsettling and arch attacks on the liberal left (‘I’m not a patriot but’ skewering those who lent their support for central American ‘freedom fighters’ while simultaneously withholding it from the ‘terrorists’ ‘not far away’ from Britain). And Tim Gane’s melodies are as lovely in essence as Laetitia Sadier would make them on Banking, violence and the inner life today and later with Stereolab.
To continue the compare and contrast theme here in the 21st century, let’s pair one of those lovely Gane melodies in the form of ‘An address to the better off’ with Momus’ Stock, Aitken & Waterman parody ‘Lifestyles of the rich and famous’ from his Don’t stop the night LP. Plus the video of ‘Keep an open mind or else’ for its rarity value.
The second page has Momus’ explanation of who Momus was. En français.
Though he tried, Wim Wenders could never top Wings of desire. Never mind the wonderful German actors – Nick Cave! And Peter Falk! In the same movie!
- McCarthy – An address to the better off
- Momus – Lifestyles of the rich and famous (via UbuWeb Sound)
- McCarthy – Keep an open mind or else