Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
I wondered that myself... and only Ray could really tell us
BTW, that stereo mix linked in Mark's post is different to the one I have on my 80s PRT vinyl - particularly in the double-tracking of the vocals on every other line, and the more prominent harmony vocal in the "you make the rainbows..." section. I think I prefer the mix I have without those things.
Interestingly, most of the links for this album have been "official audio" rather than mono or stereo... so I assumed they are the Kinks choices.....?
But it is really interesting to me through the whole thread, the plethora of different mixes, and incorrect pressings, and all that stuff..... I don't pretend to know anything about any of it it is certainly interesting to read about though.
I too can’t believe this song, one of the three definitive stunners on the record for me (the others being Two Sisters and you know which one). What a track ! It shows once again Ray is/was an unmatched master of atmosphere in song. We hear the droning sounds of a storm that never really explode, we see some rays of light here and there trying to fight their way through the heavy thundering dark clouds. But it’s never illustrative, it’s always meant to be felt by the listener.
The phrase “Kiss Me with One Ray of Light from Your Lazy Old Sun” is one of the most beautiful melodic phrases I’ve ever heard by anyone. The melody itself is just as poetic as the words. The a cappella double tracked effect is otherworldly, as is Ray’s nascent ability to sing almost out of tune, in order to enrich the harmonic palette of what he’s singing by suggesting unexpected changes or possibilities that he might (but won’t) use, like singing on a tightrope. Always on the verge of falling, but regaining balance in the most graceful way… It’s something he does out of feeling, not virtuosity (which is different from Indian singers, for instance) and it will be in full use, of course, on many Village Green and Arthur songs.
Anyway, the track is sublime. I think the ascending trumpet is done on a mellotron ? Talking about this instrument makes me think of some great tunes the Moody Blues did in their psychedelic years, like the majestic two parts Have You Heard. Another song comes to mind, of course : Pink Floyd’s Fat Old Sun, a track that, (co?)incidentally, starts by the exact same bells as… Big Black Smoke !
Lazy Old Sun
Another great introduction by Mark. I don’t think Ray was experiencing depression in this period but that wouldn’t prevent him writing a song with someone like that in mind. After all, he excelled in character portraits. Another interpretation of the lyrics is that they are a different reflection of Ray’s fascination with the sun.
I think this is one of the few songs on the album we could carbon date exactly to 1967. It has that 67 psychedelic feel tinged with English whimsy - reminiscent of Syd Barrett at the time. I do love the use of the horn on this song - it adds an unexpected dimension.
I really like Lazy Old Sun - it holds its own against the better psych songs of 1967 and sits perfectly on Something Else.
edit: and kiss me with one ray of light from your lazy old sun is indeed a wonderful line.
Is this the same stereo mix included as a bonus track on the Sanctuary CD, with the sloppily double tracked "Kiss me with one ray of light..."? I regret selling my PRT more and more every day...
Lazy Old Sun
is another masterpiece. Fit to be matched with any classic '67 psychedelia. People have described the song really brilliantly already, I have little to add. This song deserves to be more than a forgotten album track.
It seems to be a song that inspired a lot of folks .....
I believe earlier in the thread someone said the guys from Velvet Underground were very taken by it. Listening today, I hear a few Neutral Milk Hotel similarities... and I'm sure there are more.
It probably isn't radio friendly, but man it is a great track.
Yeah for a song that mentions sunshine so much "Love me til the sun shines" is pretty grimy.
Speaking of which..
"Lazy Old Sun"
This sounds so heavy. I cannot be the only listener who expected a Kinks song called "Lazy Old Sun" to be some bright, jaunty, whimsical thing. Like "No Return" it made my first few listens to SE fairly puzzling. It predicts the likes of "Wicked Annabella" I guess.
Now I think it's a great piece. For such a supposedly 'pop' outfit it's remarkable how many Kinks LP tracks are long-term growers. Once you have a sense of it, it stays with you. Very often the songs that take a while to sit are the ones that endure (cf "Forever Changes").
As ever Mark and others have done a sterling job looking at the lyric. I confess most of these words are new to me, if I don't hear them immediately (or there's not a story in there) I don't usually bother looking them up. As with a few songs it's only improved with a little understanding.
Anyone else think it's too short? That amazing outro could go on forever.. love the trumpet and (Rasa's?) angelic vocals cutting through the gloom. This could have ended the record (the Immediate CD smartly ends with an alt outtake) but I guess that might have seemed a bit outré even in 1967.
Even as a not-really audiophile I think the Kinks records suffer sometimes from such murky, almost slapdash production. Yes I love the swampiness and so on, but imagine how this track could have sounded.
Yes indeed. And that goes for more than one song on the album. Ray didn’t like to go over 3 minutes.
There’s a thought - what if George Martin had produced the Kinks? There would have been more classical musicians doing sessions for a start!
You are so right. Coincidentally, Spotify went straight from Lazy Old Sun to Alone Again Or when I just asked it to play LOS.
Lazy Old Sun
I enjoyed this song more than most on the album so far (and that's not to say I haven't enjoyed the others!). Lovely sound to it, in particular the 'wooobly' bits. I can't say a lot without giving it a few more listens, and I look forward to doing so.
Lazy Old Sun....
.... is nothing like lazing on a sunny afternoon!
Once again, Ray and the group prove they could master any genre/mood, and even create their own variants in the process. I don't think of this as heavy psychedelia, but it is psychedelia and it certainly is heavy!
Great drum work! And I love it when Ray goes a capella at the end of the verse. Ray doesn't have a strong technical voice and it's completely exposed here which should be a recipe for musical disaster, but this works so very well!
This song has no business being as good as it is. Another triumph.
Possibly the all-time least insightful assessment made by noted Kinks liner note author John Mendelssohn appeared in his 1985 biography of the band, "The Kinks Kronikles," when he wrote:
"...worst of all there is "Lazy Old Sun," which is to The Kinks what "Blue Jay Way" was to The Beatles--the single most unlistenable track in their recording history..."
I need to know what type of crack he was smoking when he wrote that so I can stay away from it. I find "Lazy Old Sun" among the most admirably daring songs they ever attempted and pulled off. For me, it's the highlight of an album chock full o' highlights. And he also missed the mark on Blue Jay Way by several street blocks.
I can only assume he listened to it once, perhaps twice.... and that isn't really acceptable for a good critic... if there is such a thing lol
I completely understand someone not getting this on the first couple of listens...
Initially my response was, well that's weird.... but I have listened to a lot of weirdo music, according to friends and family at least ... but it requires what I think of as a proper listen, and when it gets that, man does it open doors.
It sure isn't You Really Got Me or Dedicated Follower Of Fashion. It isn't a pop song in any traditional sense of the word, but that's what makes great albums great... to me at least.
Since I got my groove back, and started listening to music properly again, there have been many revelations, and this era of Kinks tracks is turning out to be another... possibly the most profound for me, because I loved the band anyway, but never noticed how deep the waters run.
Lazy Old Sun
I've only just recently discovered this song as I only knew of about 3-4 songs off this album prior to exploring it the past few weeks. This is one of those that takes several listens to truly appreciate. For the first may be 4 or 5 listens, I didn't get it. It seemed noisy, murky, meandering, and (to me) didn't have much of a regular song structure to it. Just an atmosphere or soundscape. But more listens went by and I started to get into it. Listening while reading along with the lyrics makes it stick a bit more. The "When I'm dead and gone, your light will shine eternally" line certainly puts our lives in perspective to the universe.
I agree the "kiss me with one ray of light from your lazy old sun" is melodic highlight of the entire album, and the acapella focus on it is superb. But I think this is the line that turns the song into a metaphor for a relationship, because of the "from your lazy old sun". It's a similar theme to "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray". Your love turns my darkness into light, you part the clouds of depression (sometimes), etc.
Rasa's vocals again shine here. What she added to the sound of the Kinks in these last two albums cannot be overstated.
Overall, I think the level of psychedelia here is on par with some of the odder tracks on "Smiley Smile" from the Beach Boys. It's not really a flower children trippy track, but with that drone effect and drumming, the song just puts you in a state of mind similar to perhaps rolling a Harry Rag before putting yourself to bed. But it takes some solid investment in numerous listens to get there.
“Kiss me with one ray of light from your lazy old sun” (with the organ swelling at “sun”) is the centerpiece of this psychedelia laden (swathed? engulfed?) track. Aside from that one line, though, my initial take on this song is clearly a lot more muted than everyone else here on the thread.
I’m always open to being favorably swayed, though, and will see where I end up. (Discussion participants are going to need a thesaurus to further the accolades being heaped upon this song!)
I may need to break one out when we get to the next album
I wrote “going to need” but I should have said, “have clearly opened (a thesaurus).” The writing on this thread discussion is first rate.
That’s the double-tracked mono mix in the video.
Original stereo is single-tracked as you point out.
"Lazy Old Sun" is probably the closest the Kinks ever got to full on psychedelia, 1967 British style. There are some great lyrics, including the ones where the narrator notes that the Sun was there long before he was born & will be there long after he dies.
As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the Beach Boys song that reminds me the most of the Kinks is "The Warmth of the Sun", which was written after the JFK assassination. Just as in "Lazy Old Sun", the narrator claims a relationship w/the Sun, whose rays heal him in the aftermath of a failed relationship ("I cried when she said I don't feel the same way"). I can imagine Raywriting & singing this song & it being on Something Else.
As for John Mendelssohn, whatever the merits of his book (which was really the first one about the Kinks that you could get at your local bookstore), he was a superfan of theirs up to the early 70s, so he did probably listened to "Lazy Old Sun" a few times.
Lazy Old Sun
This song proves that the Kinks were just as capable of doing psychedelia as everyone else. Although I think See My Friends and Fancy were already proof enough...
Speaking of Fancy, it seems like that same sliding bass sound can be heard in both tracks.
As others have mentioned, the song's chord progression is really unusual. (It's F E7 Eb7 D7 Db7 C7 for the verses) I think that even those who are unfamiliar with music theory will recognize that most songs don't "look" like that. It's very much in line with Syd Barrett's habit of using descending chromatic lines. That, coupled with the ominous tribal drums and maracas make for probably the most unique (and unsettling) atmosphere of any Kinks track.
Thr trumpets are great too.... particaularly with the interplay between the electric guitar at the end. It's weird that only two tracks on Something Else use brass (the other is Tin Soldier Man). And it's interesting that Lazy Old Sun treats the brass accompaniment as just another instrument. There were so many bands around this time whose music was sonically bogged down by unnecessarily bombastic brass/string arrangements... I think part of the reason this album has aged as well as it has is because Ray knew not to do that.
I think above all though, my favorite musical aspect of this song is Rasa's spectral wailing at the end. I had always thought it was a theremin or something. I'm glad they never overused the effect, but it's a stroke of genius here.
The version (? or maybe it’s a mistake?) on Apple Music has the vocals barely audible, almost completely muted, until “kiss me...lazy old sun” comes blaring out. Then muted again until the next “kiss me....” It makes the drum patterns really stand out and is actually quite interesting as it conjures up images of hippies in striped bell bottoms and frilly tops prancing around a meadow.
One of the bonus tracks on the Village Green box has a version like that. It's a mono mix for a TV program. I assume on the program Ray sang over live. However, I'm unsure if the actual footage exists but the tape that was used does exist.
If not mentioned already, Ray also sings about 'everybody's looking for the sun/son' in Wonderboy. Wonderboy could be a Jesus like figure. The same could be applied to Lazy Old Sun. He may have just been having a bit of fun.
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