The Kinks - Album by Album (song by song)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.

  1. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Ok... yea I guess I can hear that....
    I supposed i have heard so many double time snare tracks over the years that it slipped by me.
    All Down The Line and FJFP like this.
  2. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    So now I have a perpetual fa fa fa fa, and diddlum diddlum diddlum rhythm bounding through my brain
  3. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    David Watts

    This is one of those early stone cold classics. So fun and so hooky, not much for me to add regarding what's been said musically.

    I will share few couple lyrical observations. There are just so many possible layers to this, and it could be dissected many ways and all of them would be worthy of discussion.

    First, this might initially appear to be one of those classic character sketches, and it can certainly serve in that regard. But really, this song is as much about the observer as it is the observed. While the likes of Dedicated Follower of Fashion and Well Respected Man are squarely and emphatically about the person named in the song title, in this case, the titled David Watts is the impetus for the first person to express his response. The singer ends up being the focal point, expressing himself in light of an external input driving his thoughts.

    As noted before, Ray delivers the vocal with great confidence which might belie the idea that the first person singer isn't really that oppressed in the face of this perceived ease of perfection. When I think about this, I think the singer might not be singing so much from his own personal point of view, but rather as a voice for all the ordinary people who live in the shadow of David Watts. Of course the opening line beginning with "I am..." makes it sound exclusively personal, but there's no doubt the presenter is singing for the other 99% of us.

    Another interesting point about this song relative to Ray's other sarcastic character sketches; unlike Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Well Respected Man, House in the Country, or Most Exclusive Residence for Sale where the subject of the song is the obvious object of scorn, here there's no overt disgust with or hatred for David Watts. There's no overt complaint about him being born into privilege or having things handed to him other than that he appears to have won the genetic lottery. I think this is a wonderful twist in Davies's songwriting. That we have a sort of upper crust subject, but no derision is thrown his way... unlike the idle rich or those chasing the idle rich, this guy is just who he is, and that, while near impossible to not inspire jealousy, need not inspire hate.

    So much to this song.... so very much!
  4. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    :D Perhaps supplemented by the occasional “hey” (or “oi” if you’re thinking The Jam).
    croquetlawns, mark winstanley and ARL like this.
  5. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Godaammit it if Ray didn't have to go and spoil the line 'and I have never met The Queen' in 2004 by accepting a CBE!

  6. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Live Dave version from 1997:

  7. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Ray backed by the 88 in about 2010:

  8. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Now this is fantastic! “wish I wish I ha ha ha”
    mark winstanley and ajsmith like this.
  9. palisantrancho

    palisantrancho Forum Resident

    "David Watts"

    The Kinks unleashed! This song opens the gates and gets things off to a quick start. With the galloping march it sounds like we are off to the races. By the end of the song, you will be singing along the first time you hear it. It makes perfect sense for The Jam to bring this song to the punk crowd. It has that driving rhythm and while I was listening this morning I could hear it as a perfect cover for The Ramones, with all the Fa Fa Fa's and especially when it kicks into:

    And when I lie on my pillow at night
    I dream I could fight like David Watts
    Lead the school team to victory
    And take my exams and pass the lot

    It's rock n roll and pop perfection. I'm surprised more bands in the late 70s didn't cover it. The Jam did a fine job, but still can't beat the original.
  10. Adam9

    Adam9 That cat's something I can't explain

    Toronto, Canada
    Actually my first paragraph is accurate as it talks about how "David Watts" kicks off Something Else much like "Let's Spend The Night Together" kicks of Between The Buttons (U.S.).
  11. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    :kilroy: I'm going to go against the grain here and say that like The Beatles' "No Reply," this is a magnificent song, but not the obvious choice for an album opener. I would've given that honor to the LP's other rocker, "Situation Vacant." I base this mainly on the fact that it starts like the beginning of a novel, "Susie and Johnny were lovers..." which to my way of thinking, is a much better opening line for an entire album than "I am a dull and simple lad."

    That being said, I want to point something out about all the comparisons to "Let's Spend The Night Together." Whereas, "David Watts" begins on the tonic, The Stones' hit begins on the dominant, which pulls the ear towards the tonic. This got me thinking about what "David Watts" might sound like if one were to sing the "Fa Fa Fa Fa Fas" over an A7 chord (the dominant) then resolving on the tonic (D) when "I am a dull and simple lad" begins. I tried doing that, and it's sort of interesting. The Bridge utilizes the common gimmick of a round of 4ths beginning on the III7 chord, and it works really well.

    Interestingly, David Essex had released a similarly themed single a few months earlier, only this time, the singer and the guy he's singing about are in their 20s:

    Finally, I'd just like to say that this is how I would've programmed side 1 of this album:

    Situation Vacant
    Death Of A Clown
    Two Sisters
    Tin Soldier Man
    David Watts
    No Return
    Mr. Pleasant

    Yes, I have substituted "Harry Rag" with "Mr. Pleasant." :disgust: More on that later.
  12. Adam9

    Adam9 That cat's something I can't explain

    Toronto, Canada
    "Susie and Johnny were happy" is the actual lyric but that doesn't diminish your point.
    mark winstanley, FJFP and Zeki like this.
  13. bvb1123

    bvb1123 Rock and Roll Martian

    Cincinnati Ohio
    "David Watts" - a great Kinks' song and an awesome album opener. There's a reason this is one of their most well-known and well-loved songs. It's rockin', rollin', and the lyrics are wonderfully Ray Davies TM written. I've loved this song since I first heard it and still love it now. What an amazing start to my favorite Kinks' album!
  14. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    I just remembered Otis Redding's "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)" from the previous year.
  15. Aftermath

    Aftermath Senior Member

    David Watts
    The unusually strident piano almost seems like a bit of fanfare to simply announce an album underway. (Like the trumpets at the beginning of Magical Mystery Tour, for one). I'll admit there was a David Watts type character at my high school that I was a bit envious of, so I can relate to this one.

    I didn't review Death of A Clown before, so I'll tuck it in here and just say I really hit me as a beautifully sad song. The contrast between Dave's raspy, defeated vocal an Rasa's angelic harmony is a wonderfully curious work of art, and the first real standout for me on this album. Also proof positive that Dave's singing had come a hell of a long way since the likes of Long Tall Shorty (eek!).
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
  16. zipp

    zipp Forum Resident


    A simple and dull Ray Davies or a pure and noble David Watts?

    But we all know Ray isn't simple and dull, so we suspect from the outset that David Watts isn't perfect.

    And it's made pretty obvious that David Watt's success comes from his money. He drinks champagne (he's got enough money to do so), he's met the queen (she's got money) and Ray is jealous of his money (which doesn't belong to him).

    And this Watts is so sure of himself that he can turn down all those fawning girls because he feels superior to them.

    This, of course , drives Ray crazy. Hence this song of pure hate.

    A great, liberating and refreshing opening track.
  17. renderj

    renderj Forum Resident

    This is a great opener, I defy those saying otherwise. The psychedelic intro leads into a Slavic dance party rhythm and then the lyrics discuss (what else!) post-pubescent working class resentment.

    God Save The Kinks!
  18. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Some great points there.
  19. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    And the narrator's "neighborhood" may hose plenty of common folk/girls less well off and/or cultured.
    mark winstanley likes this.
  20. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    Definitely an issue, in a hardcore class system ... Sadly the general rule of thumb would seem to be "marry this woman of good breeding, and just have those lesser girls as ... (insert demeaning term here)"
    All Down The Line likes this.
  21. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    David Watts
    A hard-driving rocker with clever lyrics. In my opinion makes the perfect opening to this album. And it's no surprise the Jam successfully covered it a decade later. As an aside Ray says Paul Weller was wearing a badge that said 'Who the fu ck is David Watts?' when he first met him. Ray said he immediately knew they'd get on well.
  22. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Forum Resident

    Nice and smooth. What can I say? Great way to open the album.
  23. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Massachusetts, USA
    David Watts
    So much to say and not sure I'll be able to get to all of it. I feel like Ray and company really threw all their energy into this one. It's almost like they can't keep up with themselves from the get-go. And oh my...does it get your attention and keep it. This is one of their songs that's maybe not in my Top 10, BUT when you hear it, you realize it's got everRYthing...and then some. and WHY isn't it in my Top 10? Time to rethink?
    Was just talking about this song with the husband and his point was that he's not sure if he's heard sarcasm sung as clearly as in this song. And we both agree that our first introduction to this song was via the Jam's very capable cover. But nothing can beat the original.

    Is that Dave singing "wish I could be" part? it sounds too deep to be him, but I could be wrong.

    and the fun he has with the whole story behind the actual David Watts "gay and fancy free" and how girls try but they can't succeed.

    I have a thing for songs with this much energy. No wonder punks loved them (or didn't mind them).
    Simply brilliant and unlike anything before it. Groundbreaking.
  24. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Senior Member

    Is that a subtle dig at the Fabs?
    Could one on another level see them as the "David Watts" of the pop groups and the intro was a nod?
  25. Martyj

    Martyj Who dares to wake me from my slumber? -- Mr. Flash

    Maryland, USA
    I find even more similarities with the Shel Talmy produced “Friday on my Mind” by The Easybeats. It was in the charts around the time Ray was writing this. It’s inconceivable that he wouldn’t have heard it.

Share This Page