The song The Kinks’ Ray Davies wants played at his funeral

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It was the 1960s, and it was clear that a cultural revolution was taking place in the world. The Kinks from Muswell Hill then burst onto the scene, heralding the arrival of heavy metal with a vivified sound and songs about, well, cricket, lovely sunsets, and quenching cups of coffee. It was obvious that Ray Davies and his pals were responding to their own detractors with that original piece.

His parents, not the cool students seeking to control culture, were the ones making those criticisms. Davies recalls, “Unlike many other rockers, I always cared what my parents thought of my music, I was writing songs for older people.”

Now that Davies is older, he has recently given some thought to the music that has shaped his life. When asked by the Los Angeles Times which song, heaven forbid, he wanted to be played at his burial, he selected “Days.”

The song has a fitting sense of closure. Davies compares this to the turbulent times The Kinks had, yet he still found himself maturely making sense of the situation and gratefully remembering the good old days. In 2004, he observed, “Pop musicians aren’t meant to go on forever. And around this time, whenever I finished a session, I thought maybe this is the last record I’d ever make. That’s why it has this strange emotion to it. Fortunately, though the Kinks went on to make other records.”

And so Davies sang in humility, “I’m thinking of the days / I won’t forget a single day, believe me.” Given the circumstances, the song came without a hitch and was subsequently distributed as a single with the same appearance of ease. Davies said, “The song has grown in intensity over the years. I didn’t think much about the song when I wrote it. Sometimes songs occur like that. You don’t think about it, but it’s built up quite a lot of mystique over the years. It certainly left me. It belongs to the world now.”

The music of The Kinks is characterized by this kind of transcendence. Due to its uniqueness, it still sounds modern now, more than fifty years later. According to Noel Gallagher, their impact played forward as follows:

“The Kinks, like The Who, are one of those quintessentially great English singles bands but I’ve listened to this album so many times and I just f***** love it. It’s obviously such a big influence on Damon Albarn’s writing. You know the song ‘Big Sky’? ‘Big sky, too big to cry.’ You can almost hear someone shouting ‘Parklife!’ at the end of it, do you know what I mean?”

Therefore, it would appear that Davies choosing one of his own is appropriate if funerals are all about legacy. However, he added, “But that’s only if I have to pick one of my songs. If not, I choose ‘SOS’ by ABBA.” Which, unfortunately, is a fairly similar tune when the glaring variations in production are removed.

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