Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Apr 4, 2021.
Don't worry your post is thanks enough.
Any chance the Sherlock Holmes “English speaking vernacular” is a pun, as in English people speaking in vernacular? Also then a detour from our expectation of a word for club or society?
And chiming in, Days and The Village Green Preservation Society are two of my three (possibly four) very favorite Kinks songs, and I stand a fan of their work from Kinks through To the Bone (and after for solo work). With Ray’s brilliance and the band’s sympathetic and enthusiastic playing a given, Rasa and Nicky Hopkins are the special sauce here. My biggest problem with Andrew Sandoval’s gallant remix of the song VGPS isn’t that the overdubs fall out of sync, but that the last verse/reprise of the first verse is not as otherworldly in its haunting blend of voices and echo.
As a working week starts back up, I guess I'd better get back to chiming in properly!
The title track from this album was one that immediately drew me in when the arm dropped on that PRT LP. What I don't think has been mentioned here is how flat out lovely the melody is. It swings by in an easy, breezy manner, the sort that wouldn't startle if heard on the village green, or from the bandstand on the common. I always loved the lyrics right from the get-go, and have always been right there with the sentiments of the whole project, though as a child who grew up a dedicated Beano reader, having a Dandy character but not a Beano one upsets me greatly. You were so close Ray!
In short, a fantastic opening cut that sets up the album perfectly, though I do have to agree it doesn't perform as strongly out of context.
Eventually. But it took moving to another part of the country years later to find a local chapter. These days it’s online, much like this thread.
"Do You Remember Walter?"
Single by the Kinks
from the album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
A-side "The Village Green Preservation Society"
Released November 1968 (US)
Songwriter(s) Ray Davies
Producer(s) Ray Davies
On the Kinks' nostalgic Village Green album, frontman Ray Davies warmly reminisces about his years growing up in a small English town, but on this track he realizes you can never really go home again. Places change and dreams fade. People grow up and grow apart, and all you have left are the memories. He particularly remembers his childhood friend Walter and how they would sneak cigarettes and talk about sailing away to big adventures beyond their small town. He wonders what became of Walter, if he shares the same fond memories of their friendship or if he even remembers him at all.
"'Do You Remember Walter' was inspired by a close friend of mine who met me once I'd had success, and we didn't really know each other any more," Davies explained to biographer Nick Hasted. "But the Village Green itself could be the youth I wish I'd had, after which I would have been something else. Probably, it's saying goodbye to youth, as well – that I'm a grown-up person now, and these are my childish thoughts about steam-powered trains, and playing cricket in the thunder and rain – what it was like, before I forget about it. Before I lose my memory. The record's about childhood, really. Lost childhood, but also just being a kid, and the naivete. Being naïve was something I found I needed to touch upon again."
This was the B-side to the single "The Village Green Preservation Society."
The Kinks included an acoustic version on their 1994 album, To The Bone. The song also appears on the compilations Picture Book (2008) and The Kinks Choral Collection (2009).
Colin Meloy of The Decemberists covered this on his 2013 solo album, Colin Meloy Sings The Kinks.
According to a 2018 Rolling Stone interview with Ray Davies, the titular Walter is "an amalgamation of two or three people" the singer grew up with.
"It was the postwar generation. We wanted to move on. We had conscription; that was abolished the year I came out of college," he explained. "But the real Walter said it was coming and that it was evil. He set off living in a suburb and died a couple of years ago. He was one of those guys that wanted to change the world; he'd sail around the world and be free. There was also a guy who went to live in Canada; he made it out in time. So it was a gang of kids all wrapped in."
stereo mix, 15-track version (2:23), recorded Apr 1968 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London
Walter, remember when the world was young
And all the girls knew Walter's name?
Walter, isn't it a shame the way our little world has changed?
Do you remember, Walter, playing cricket in the thunder and the rain?
Do you remember, Walter, smoking cigarettes behind your garden gate?
Yes, Walter was my mate,
But Walter, my old friend, where are you now?
Walter, isn't it a shame the way our little world has changed?
Do you remember, Walter, how we said we'd fight the world so we'd be free.
We'd save up all our money and we'd buy a boat and sail away to sea.
But it was not to be.
I knew you then but do I know you now?
Walter, you are just an echo of a world I knew so long ago
If you saw me now you wouldn't even know my name.
I bet you're fat and married and you're always home in bed by half-past eight.
And if I talked about the old times you'd get bored and you'll have nothing more to say.
Yes people often change, but memories of people can remain.
Written by: Ray Davies
Published by: Noma Music, Inc./Hi-Count Music, Inc. BMI
Lyrics for "Do You Remember Walter?" kindakinks.net
This is an extremely whimsical track, but at the same time, it is one of those Kinks tracks that has this grunt added by Dave's guitar and Mick's drums.
Ray pretty much lays out what the song is about up there.... In the lyrics Ray is using Walter as a reference of where he himself was. Walter is a reference point. "Walter, you are just an echo of a world I knew so long ago"
There is actually quite a bit going on in the lyric. Certainly we learn a fair bit about Walter. All the girls knew Walter's name, somewhat infers that they don't now. They would play cricket in the thunder and the rain, they were fearless and irrepressible.
They were cigarettes behind the garden gate, being typical youths, up to mischief.
But Walter my old friend where are you now ..... this could be a literal line... as in I haven't seen you forever and I don't know where he is.... but it could also be the idea that Walter is no longer the same adventurous guy that he knew... almost a "what happened to you?" type of statement.
They had these grand childhood dreams of standing up to the world and making their mark, so they could be free. They were going to travel the oceans and live lives of adventure..... these are often the kinds of things kids dream or fantasize about... but in the end we tend to fall into situations where we just submit to the necessity of becoming work-a-day Johnnies, and the spark of youth dies, and we drink to escape our realities.
Ray sets up the character of Walter really well, but this seems more about the effect on Ray. Ray wonders if Walter would even recognise him, and if he did would Walter be bored with the idea of reminiscing about the old times....
It seems like the conclusion is that some times memories are better ....
Musically I love this track, it is again, one of those unusual Ray tracks that wanders in all these different directions.
We open with this bouncy piano, and then the snare roll, and this this wonderful sliding melodic theme, that sound like it is a guitar doubled with a keyboard of some sort.... not sure exactly what it is but it sounds great.
The chord pattern here is wonderful. It is like the melody and chord progression just keep modulating until they come back around to the starting point.
The guitar comes in with a real aggression, but it is mixed in such a way as to allow the song to remain in its whimsical zone. The guitar arrangement and the way Ray has mixed it is really quite awesome.
Also those drums are just perfect. We have Mick making hay while the sun shines, and it is like Mick is making up for lost time after being subbed for the session drummer in the earlier recordings.
The contrast between the bouncing verse section, and the growling chorus section are really excellent.... Is it the mellotron following the melody before the second verse, and during the third verse? I love the way that works.
Also the way we close on the opening chord and just vamp on it, as that melody is played on the mellotron? again.
This is just another excellent track.
Do You Remember Walter - European stereo mix.
This is quite a different mix, with the levels being quite varied on some instruments.
Do You Remember Walter
One of Ray's most fully realised short stories. And the music is just gorgeous. Love the drumming. A key track on the album as far as I'm concerned.
Do You Remember Walter backing track.
This really shows how well this song is put together musically. The mix is again, quite different, but I think that it gives a pretty good layout of how this arrangement works so well.
It also shows that everything is working for the song.
Summarised perfectly. For me, this is the most relatable of any of Ray's profiles, as everyone has that school friend that they have either lost contact with, or has completely changed into a dull, grumpy straight without any of the concept of joy that one holds in youth. We've seen this character in films, TV shows, books, but few are as vividly real as Walter is.
Beyond this, the song is musically captivating, with that wet echo signal on the guitar (panned off in stereo) adding a truly ethereal effect to the track, but the crispy (and fantastic) drumming by Mick helps propel the track along, and brings it right up to the listener in the verse and chorus. A soft bit of grit is added by Dave in the chorus, and everything just gels perfectly. Also being mainly familiar with the mono, the EU stereo mix is preferable to me, as the Tambourine overdub and rebalanced guitar echo in the final stereo is a little distracting. It makes for a fascinating difference though!
Walter - the brilliance continues with this excellent character study.
That 1994 live in the studio version as mentioned by Mark above. The first half is re arranged in what according to Ray is a ‘Bavarian’ style:
"Do You Remember Walter"
There is so much you could say about this track, but ultimately you just have to stand back and admire what a brilliant track it is, musically and lyrcially. Such is the strength of the album that while we have here what might be one of Ray's greatest ever songs, here it fits into the flow without particularly standing out.
Listening to that backing track - what a revelation! Dave's guitar on the chorus. Blur, anyone? Is it "Magic America" I'm thinking of, or "London Loves", or anything from side 2 of Parklife really? The way Pete's bassline echoes the vocal melody at the end of the chorus. The ghostly keyboard/effect sound in the left channel.
There's just too much to unpack in this song to do it justice.
And another excellent post!
Song 2 of the album on this most beautiful thread, and already a (re)discovery for me. Whenever I think of those songs in my mind, they are airy and sweet, bucolic and springlike. But man, does this rock!!!. The dryness of the drums, the piano/bass combo in the verse (could it be as much an influence on ELO's Mr Blue Sky than A Day in the Life’s bridge ?) and the crunchy power of the guitars are just incredible. Pretty straightforward verse/chorus structure (as on most of the LP), but with a dramatic change of rhythm and instruments backing. And of course, the number one thing about this song is the phrasing / metric that nobody except Ray Davies could deliver with such gusto and brilliance. The lyrics are superb, very clever in the way they imperceptibly switch from being directly addressed to that Walter guy, like he's in the room, then to us listeners, and ultimately to him but in his absence, like an imaginary conversation with a long lost friend. That's where a lot of the song's poignancy comes from, I think. It's almost like the singer gradually realizes that he's alone, lost in time and space, talking to ghosts and memories.
Do You Remember Walter
Youthful memories, emotions, experiences & relationships abound fondly here (and elsewhere on VGPS) as Ray reminisces & "Preserves" the remembrance.
This is highly relatable to a sentimental bloke like me who actually did on occasion play cricket in the thunder & the rain with my mate Ian & can still today remember one specific time due to the joy it provided.
Aside from knowing your mum didn't approve you also had just got to finish that match & get a result nevermind the downpour & frantic moving of self & rubbish bin wickets from the road every time a car came flying by!
"Do You Remember Walter"
Just a perfect combination of music and lyrics to keep the theme going. Ray is “protecting the old ways” by remembering them fondly. They weren’t always the right things to do (smoking Harry Rags behind the garden gate, or wanting to sail away from his street), but those are the memories worth holding on to. The brief musical breakdown at “yes people often change, but memories of people can remain” is just brilliant, and then the intro chords that inspired ELO’s Mr Blue Sky comes back in…
overall, I love the instrumental beginning of the second verse just before Ray comes in with “…Walter’s name”. I don’t know why, but it just works. It’s certainly a bit of a weird choice there.
“you are just an echo of a world I knew so long ago” is just the pure poetry and evokes so many thoughts and feelings.
I have always laughed at the “I bet you’re fat and married and you’re always home in bed by half past eight”. But now it’s a bit of a sadder laugh because i am often nodding off the couch now myself by 9:30 or so… slowly creeping up to that 8:30…
At the start, it seems he is talking to Walter. But the word choices and tenses later on — “I bet you’re”, “you’d get bored” and “you’d have nothing more to say” all indicate that Ray doesn’t really know where Walter is. It’s all conjecture. It seems that Ray figures nodding off and doing nothing, forgetting the old times is something he doesn’t want to associate with himself, and he’s projecting that onto Walter. He’s holding on to this memory of Walter as he was, not even knowing if Walter does still remember those times or if Walter has in fact changed.
i just love this song. One of the standout tracks on the album for me.
Lol.... I try to get to bed by 9... mainly because I have to get up at 3am though...
I probably need to get to bed by 7:30
Do You Remember Walter
I don’t know whether I most like the music in this song or the lyrics. Both are equally excellent. It’s yet another one of Ray’s visual treats for the ears.
Bit knackered at present and struggling to gather/articulate my thoughts about this album I love so much. So, thanks for all the thoughful write ups and takes, a pleasure to read. (I'd only be rewriting other people's better posts anyway, haha.)
"Do You Remember Walter" felt less of an 'instant' song (after the extraordinary title track), with its funny little melodic clusters and strangely winding melody. It musically seems to strive for something just out of reach.. which I suppose is the point. But it's definitely a grower. In fact it's surely one of the album's most important songs. Our narrator (hereafter "Ray") is not just on about losing traditions and values, he's singing about losing your sense of self.
It occurs to me that Ray sings this from the POV that he is still exactly how he was back then.
It's that age old reminiscence, remember those big dreams we had... but there's an implicit feeling that Ray is still hooked on the past. He's recalling or treasuring the sense of self he had as a youth, but is aware that ultimately, change is about the one thing you can rely on. Walter must have ("I bet") changed irrevocably. I identify with this to an extent.. If you abandon your dreams, dismiss your youthful ideals, are you betraying something of your true self? Then, again, it's knowing that idealism, pursuing adventure, as opposed to being a (real world) pragmatist, can also be risky and destructive.
I enjoy the deliberate double meaning in the title - "Do you remember Walter?" and, as it's sung, "Do you remember, Walter?" Both remembrance, and (imaginary) reunion.
"The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society" is an album I now play quite rarely, I want it to remain as fresh and enjoyable as possible, not for it to become over familiar. But for this thread, I've had a good listen, or three, for the first time in years. It's quite an extraordinary album, isn't it? Many goosebumps, and a sense that it's part of my own memories, that I've somehow inhabited these landscapes and lived these moments.
In fact at one point I was listening on headphones, and ended up outside.. sat watching the local cricket, in some light rain, just as the line in this song about "cricket in the thunder and rain" came up unexpectedly.. had a little moment there.. Walter, my old friend, where are you now?
Maybe my favourite song on the album and one of my very favourite Kinks songs. Another amazing thing to be writing about at the age of 24. Ray must have liked it a lot too because he selected it for this comp which is where I first heard it.
I agree with @FJFP about the distracting tambourine on the stereo mix. The mono mix I first heard on the album above doesn't have it and the lack of acoustic guitar makes it rock more too with just the electric.
That’s a really good insight - and one I totally missed.
This song resonates with me as I'm thinking of several people in my past who were good friends & wanted to spend all my time with them & now those feelings are mostly gone & all I have left is memories.
Anyway, I wonder if Ray originally intended to have the song to have that "Barvarian"
feeling when he originally wrote it.
According to Ray's estimation, permanently in the outfield!
Only because as a punctuation pedant it used to bug me that the title didn't grammatically match the song. Then I thought, ah..
Everyone in the band really shines on this song. It's some of Mick's most inventive playing to date with Pete right on the mark. Just a great rhythm section going on with this one. Dave really pulls some grungy, yet tasteful, guitar. Ray's singing is quite authoritative. I couldn't imagine a better vocal. They did this one in the 90's and slowed it down. I do like that version as well. It's just a good song. I think most of us have a Walter in our lives we still reflect on.
This. Quaife and Avory excelled as a rhythm section, and gelled well together musically -- as good or better, I think, than most other groups of the time.
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