"Sitting in the Midday Sun" /
I've finished the book. I've finished the book. And yes, I know there'll be queries to answer, and proofs to read, and all that crap down the line, but I'VE FINISHED THE BOOK, and now I can get back to business here at last!
Frankly, while I was working there were no songs in my head. Well, only one song, Nick Lowe's "I Live On A Battlefield," which I've written about before, and besides I reckon you're tired of hearing me go on about Nick Lowe. I'm tired of hearing me go on about Nick Lowe. So this is how I know I've really finished the book; today I woke up singing this dreamy little Kinks tune, one of my favoritest mellow lazy tunes ever.
Ray Davies loves to play the quizzical observer of life, and so he's given us a passel of these "sitting" songs. First there was 1965's "Sittin' On My Sofa," a morose moan from a shellshocked guy whose girlfriend's left him. Next came his sly 1968 satiric hit "Sitting By the Riverside," about a wealthy guy blindsided by financial distress (how apt these days!). In 1972 we got the plaintive "Sitting In My Hotel," an (I assume) autobiographical track about a lonely celebrity isolated by fame, and one of my favorite Kinks songs ever.
Preservation Act I came along in 1973, one of Ray's forays into rock opera, a road which many of his former fans didn't "get." (Ray's still trying out musical theater -- he's got a new play in London right now called Come Dancing that I've heard is simply brilliant.) But I love both of the Preservation albums, and one of my favorite characters in this story is the Tramp, the narrator/observer of the play's action. He kinda disappears in Act II, but in Act I he gets all the best songs -- the wistful love song "Sweet Lady Genevieve," his nostalgic take on Swinging London, "Where Are They Now," and this little charmer.
It's a real musical theater tune -- you could almost do a soft shoe to it -- with its soaring woodwind intro, the ripply glockenspiels, and the Beach Boys-ish falsetto harmonized "ooohs." Of course it's a little ambivalent -- this wouldn't be Ray Davies without a little ambivalence -- but surely we're supposed to side with the Tramp. The guy's got nothing, as verse 2 tells us: "Everybody say I'm lazy / They tell me, 'Get a job you slob' / But I'd rather be a hobo, walking 'round with nothing / Than a rich man scared of losing all he's got" (echoes of "Sitting By the Riverside"). He freely admits, "I haven't got a steady occupation / And I can't afford a telephone / I haven't got a stereo, radio, or video" -- OR "A mortgage, overdraft, or bank loan." (I love how deftly Ray spins that list around.) Wouldn't we all like to be in that situation, especially nowadays? Suddenly this song is totally relevant.
"So I'm just sitting in the midday sun," he muses lazily, "Just soaking up that currant bun." (It took me years to find out that "currant bun" is Cockney rhyming slang for "sun.") And then, ever so casually, he points out, "Everybody thinks I'm crazy / Everybody says I'm dumb / But when I see the people shouting with each other / I'd rather be an out-of-work bum." So here I am, the night before the election, with nothing to do except finally clean my apartment and go walk my dog. Okay, today the weather's gray and overcast and a little chilly, but I'm heading outdoors anyway -- gotta go soak up that currant bun for a change.
Sitting in the Midday Sun sample