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

  2. Fortuleo

    Fortuleo Used to be a Forum Resident

    This is where Ray’s theatrical persona threatens to become detrimental to the song. He can’t help but sing this in an outré pastiche style, even turning things into a comedy number in the end. In that sense, it reminds me of the Where Is Spring ? tunes, whereas his best forays in that music-hall vein always manage to be delivered as real songs. This is performed as a pastiche interlude, something Eric Idle could’ve sung, and I wish Ray would’ve decided to keep things straighter. As a piece of writing for a musical, it certainly fits the bill and the lyrics are wonderfully evocative. But the outré singing makes it sound like gossip from the neighborhood, whereas a straight delivery would’ve underlined these people’s hardships in a more fitting affectionate way. I still find it exquisite as a baroque Divine Comedy-like miniature, I like to sing it or whistle it, the harmonic scales are brilliant but it does frustrate me no end.
     
  3. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    A fantastic write up Mark - I had never realised that Princess Marina was a real person!
     
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  4. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
  5. James H.

    James H. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Runnemede, NJ
    Isnt there a kazoo solo in this song?
     
  6. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product Thread Starter

    There is a kazoo, yes
     
  7. ARL

    ARL Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    "She's Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina"

    Have to admit I wasn't familiar with the name Princess Marina when I first heard this, and we didn't have the internet to look things up on then! Looking at when she died, it's understandable that I wouldn't have heard the name.

    This isn't a track that I have a great deal of affection for, but it is an impressive piece of work - we have presumably moved into post-WW2 Britain now, and this track effortlessly evokes that period. I've never been quite sure whether the characters have bought the same hats as Marina/Eden or cheap knock-offs from the local market, but they would probably have been proud of them either way. It's an indication of the kind of respect that royalty and the government would have been held in at the time by most people whatever their own views or situations - this is certainly not the case these days. The final verse evokes the kind of street parties that I would have seen at the time of the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 (back when 25 years sounded like a very long time, rather than the length of time since the Spice Girls started).

    It's music hall Kinks - the kind of thing we'd hear a lot more of during the 70s, but they do it very well and it's another important piece of this album.

    Apropos of nothing, two of the worst cars that British Leyland would inflict on us during the 1970s were the (Austin) Princess and the (Morris) Marina.
     
  8. James H.

    James H. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Runnemede, NJ
    Thanks for clearing who the people are in this song. I know who Chuchill was by the way of US history in school but didn't know anything about Princess Marina or Anthony Eden was.

    I guess I could have googled them, but I never think of using a web search. I guess it shows my age.
     
  9. Tim 2

    Tim 2 MORE MUSIC PLEASE

    Location:
    Alberta Canada
    My system always expel's the Kazoo with aplomb. lol
     
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  10. Steve62

    Steve62 Vinyl hunter

    Location:
    Murrumbateman
    She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina
    The quick tempo continues with this jaunty upbeat number. Then style is more music hall than Albert Hall - which is something we should bear in mind when interpreting the lyrics. This is a funny song about a serious situation because here we are back on Dead End Street. These two people are poor - “the kids are crying…this poverty is hurting my pride”. And everyone else in the street is poor “she hasn’t any food in the larder nor has anybody else in the street”. Despite their poverty they own hats that make them feel special. This is the crux of my interpretation of the lyrics – you need to be able to hold your head high even, or especially, when you are poor.

    While the lyrics seem pretty clear to me I’ve read some strange interpretations - the most bizarre of which was by Andrew Mueller in Uncut’s Ultimate Music Guide to The Kinks. Mueller claims Ray “titters at the gaucheries of peasants who refuse to appreciate the futility of their ambitions, as they seek to impress equally vulgar neighbours with millinery above their station.” [and] “He’s bought a hat like Antony Eden’s, sniggers Davies, because it makes him feel like a lord (Davies protagonist may just have admired Eden for the Military Cross he won at the Somme, and for his principled resignation as Foreign Secretary in protest against Chamberlain’s attempt to appease Hitler, but – hey – it’s Davies’ song).” Mueller compounds his arrogance by being wrong on all counts and badly so. The hats are about moments of feeling good when there's little to feel good about. If there is an element of trying to impress the neighbours it is to show that they (the hat wearers) aren’t doing as badly as people think - though they are. Even so, Ray has an upbeat take on their situation: he/she don’t care: they don’t care what people think.

    Taking a different tack, Mark Doyle in his book The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached says “Arthur and Rose are clearly aping their superiors in a somewhat ridiculous manner. They are splashing out on frivolities when they can hardly afford the necessities, but they’ve decided that they won’t let mere material deprivation prevent them from having a bit of fun.” Doyle's interpretation is plausible, though we’ve already found out Arthur isn’t this poor. Yes just owning a hat that even looks posh could be seen as frivolous because hats weren’t necessities, even in the sixties when many older people still wore them. But pride can make people make funny decisions and we all need at least one material possession that makes us feel good.

    And, as @ARL says above, we aren't quite sure whether the characters have bought the same hats as Marina/Eden or cheap knock-offs from the local market, but they would probably have been proud of them either way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
  11. FJFP

    FJFP Host for the 'Mixology' Mix Differences Podcast

    I can't check right now, but could it be this is a single channel of the stereo mix? It's not uncommon for things like this to happen instead of a fold-down.
     
  12. Steve E.

    Steve E. Doc Wurly and Chief Lathe Troll

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Princess Marina -- This song represents the postward "Austerity" measures.

    I'm not sure that what's going on here is a poor use of very little funds -- I think the idea is that there's simply very little to be had. On the other hand, I could be very wrong -- it could indeed be that the need for status is what is compromising their families' lives. But... if we remove the assumption that the hat was expensive, but merely _looked_ expensive, how does that change the interpretation of the song? Likewise, the man buys (or puts money down on) a cheap car-- which is probably not an extravagance, but rather a survival necessity.

    I wish I understood better what life was like in the UK after the war.

    Post-War poverty in Socialist Britain (1945 - 51)

    Age of Austerity - Life after war - WJEC - GCSE History Revision - WJEC - BBC Bitesize

     
  13. croquetlawns

    croquetlawns Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    I actually prefer this to the previous track. As noted by @ARL, musically it is perfect for the immediate post-war period.
     
  14. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Good point. I’m still scratching my head as to which character(s) this is supposed to be about. The male character is not not Arthur. He has a car, a house (his Shangri-La) and isn’t scrounging for dimes.
     
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  15. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    Location:
    New Mexico
    She's Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina.

    This to me covers a rather specific but of human nature. This is not the accumulation of consumer goods for its own sake; indeed, these characters are not in any kind of financial position to engage in consumerism.

    What this is is the need to have something to facilitate an escape from the reality of poverty. We get this clearly early on when we're told she wears her hat while scrubbing the stairs. The hat is that one thing... the one indulgence she's allowed herself.... to pretend to be something more.

    This is not an uncommon phenomenon across cultures. You see it in poverty stricken Appalachia or my new home in New Mexico where a girl has that one fancy dress and it means oh, so much to her.

    Musically, I love the way this thing just picks up speed, like the music hall going off the rails... so expressive.
     
  16. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Mr Churchill Says

    A decent song that keeps the story moving. They couldn't not cover WWII, but as that war was almost universally agreed to be just and unavoidable it can't be satirised in the same way as WWI. So this is more of a snapshot in time, I think, than a lampoon of anyone in particular.

    Some people mentioned Dylan- when the pace picks up I really think of "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" and Paul Simon's Dylan spoof "A Simple Desultory Philippic" and other 60's folk revival songs. Indeed, I expect that type of guitar figure goes way back.

    The taking of railings and gates down for use in the war effort... I believe this is now widely believed to have been more for propaganda and morale than actual munitions. At least (from a cursory googling of the topic) far more metal was collected than was needed. I'm not sure if this was widely known at the time the song was written.

    I agree, the album isn't declining in quality yet.

    ...Princess Marina

    This was an immediate favourite of mine, and rather than getting tired of it, it increases in stature the more I hear it. The satire of the working class looking up to their "betters" and seeking to better themselves in exactly the wrong way, impoverishing themselves further, is an evergreen satirical theme and very Dickensian. I think the Anthony Eden verse is especially biting because he was so humiliated and disgraced in the Suez crisis but that (presumably) hasn't happened yet at the time the song is set. So the characters are ignorant of how their idols have feet of clay.

    I really think the tune of the main section is glorious and I love the way it is played first slow then fast. I know I love music hall/prewar pop more than most on this thread so I don't expect everyone to agree with me on this. I don't like they "Buddy can you spare me a dime" section quite as much but it is an interesting juxtaposition, stops the track from being too outdated, and serves its purpose both lyrically and musically, bringing us down to earth.
     
  17. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    The Kinks brought ‘Princess Marina’ as a regular into their live sets in 1971-2, surely because the fact the fact that they were now augmented by the Mike Cotton Sound meant that the songs uproarious New Orleansy climax could be realised to full effect on stage. As I mentioned a few pages back, they also added ‘Shangri-La’ at the same time but it didn’t take, whereas ‘Marina’ integrated with ease into the campy retro Showbiz era live experience and thus hung around for longer. Below is the live 1972 bonus track version included on the ‘Showbiz’ deluxe, although worth also noting that there is a full length FILMED 1972 version included in the 1972 ‘Kinks At The Rainbow’ TV special included on the DVD in the ‘Kinks At The BBC’ box. Well worth tracking down if you can!

     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
  18. ajsmith

    ajsmith Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    ‘‘Twas dropped from the Kinks and Davies bros live shows forevermore after the early 70s, but in 2010 ‘Imaginary Man’ director Julian Temple got Ray to busk him a section on request:

     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
  19. Wondergirl

    Wondergirl Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    And if Julian didn't hand over that money, Ray would have slugged him for sure. :D
     
  20. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly 1964-73 rock's best decade

    She's Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina
    Love the harpsichord. I'm a fan of this style of Kinks song. They did it better than any other band. This may not be the best of his songs in this style, but it is still a good one. I like the change in the middle too, where they pick up the pace and rock for a while!
     
  21. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    “Give me the money!” :D
     
  22. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    My fellow Avids have all done a rather sterling job on "She's Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina", from Headmaster Winstanley identifying Princess Marina (It was a while until I found out about her myself) & Anthony Eden to Avid Steve62 quoting Andrew Mueller's review. As for myself, the song is to me how people try not to feel as ordinary & common as they are by getting something that their betters own. If the song was written today, it would probably be "He Bought a Pair of Sneakers Like Michael Jordan". Musically, it's very music hall, very Kinks.

    Another thought, seeing the types of hats that the female side of the Royal Family have worn, seeing a scrub lady wear something like that doing her job would be absurd.
     
  23. DISKOJOE

    DISKOJOE Boredom That You Can Afford!

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    Hey, Julian made the offer, Ray accepted by his performance, so Ray was entitled to get paid. It's all on tape!
     
  24. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    This song brings to mind Hyacinth in Keeping Up Appearances. Hyacinth has married “up” from her extreme low class roots (see her sisters, brother-in-law and‘Daddy’) but continues to put on ‘airs.’
     
  25. Scottsol

    Scottsol Forum Resident

    Location:
    Evanston, IL
    Wearing “fancy” hats seems a better way to deal with a desultory life of poverty than walking around in a daze, lost in thoughts of Oklahoma, USA.
     

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