Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Sitting in the Midday Sun" /
The Kinks

Okay, MINOR Kinks track. Preservation Part 1 if you want to be precise. An album that was delivered to me at college, because I was the de facto college newspaper music reviewer in 1973 and that was the record album that they were desperately trying to sell.

And, oh, by the way,  I had already been converted to an insane Kinks fan, so of COURSE I was going to review this album, and review it well.

 But -- let me go on record with this -- in the 42 intervening years I have seen absolutely no reason to alter my critical assessment.

The Kinks' resident genius Ray Davies adopts in this album the wistful persona of The Tramp (a character who inexplicably fades from view in Preservation Part 2,  an album which has its own glories.) I'll confess it here: I like Preservation Part 1 more than Preservation Part 2. And perhaps it's because the Everyman figure of the Tramp gets lost in PP2.  We need that Everyman perspective to help us negotiate through the property struggles of Preservation Part 2, as the real estate developers (hello, reality check: WHO ELSE WOULD BASE A WHOLE ROCK OPERA ON REAL ESTATE NEGOTIATIONS?) scheme to destroy communities.
And after all, it's the Tramp who sings "Sitting in the Midday Sun." It's a brilliant antithesis to the Kinks's huge hit "Sunny Afternoon," where the singer is ostensibly scaling things back, but he's still
got the yacht, the stately home, et cetera. In "Sitting in the Midday Sun," he has totally let go, meditating upon the "currant bun" (Cockney rhyming slang for "sun"), giving up on all the rest.
There's an almost Beach Boys groove going on, "with no particular purpose or purpose / For sitting in the midday sun." There's the background singers, the twee organ, the whole sense of a track waiting for the resident genius to sign off.
And the resident genius is Ray Davies. Which, basically, tells you all you need to know.  


NickS said...

But -- let me go on record with this -- in the 42 intervening years I have seen absolutely no reason to alter my critical assessment.

You had good taste!

I was curious about something, reading that. I'm younger than you but I've had a couple of moments recently of listing to something which had been a favorite and that I hadn't listed to in several years and having a strong feeling that I am not the same person that I was when I was really into that particular music.

Obviously it's different if you keep listening to that music regularly. Part of what made those moments jarring was that I hadn't listened to that CD in ages. But I'm curious for you, having been fans of the Kinks (or Elvis Costello) for so long, do you have the feeling, over that time, of your relationship to the music changing because you've changed as a person?

Holly A Hughes said...

Good question! I think it partly depends on the artist. The Kinks don't wear out for me because they are pure gold, although I'll admit I did fall away from them for several years. Rediscovering them (and catching up on some albums I'd missed in the meantime) was a real revelation. But I think that Ray Davies' satiric sensibility, and his wide musical range, stand the test of time. I do see new things in their music now that I wouldn't have appreciated when I was younger, but I didn't "outgrow" them.

I also had many years when I stopped listening to Elvis Costello because his angry young man stance no longer fit my frame of mind. Coming back to Elvis depended on the quality of his output, especially those dazzling lyrics. Now I'm just amused by some the hostile poses he struck, but the music still holds up.

There are certainly some artists I can't listen to anymore. Bruce Springsteen, for example.

There is one complicating factor -- as a female fan, sometimes I've just got a crush on a male artist. Herman's Hermits. The Monkees (Davy Jones). Alan Price. Huey Lewis, Daryl Hall. Nick Lowe. I'm willing to admit that their music isn't as good as I thought it was when I was in the throes of my fangirl crush. But then again, listening to their music can sometimes put me right back into that heart-throb mode. I don't think I'll ever entirely get over those fangirl crushes, and the music brings it right back.

NickS said...

I wasn't necessarily talking about going from like to dislike (though, as I've mentioned before, I have mostly stopped listening to Elvis Costello so it is interesting to hear that you had a similar experience and then returned) but just approaching something from a different perspective.

For example, one of the CDs that I was thinking of was a collection of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. I first heard it in my early 20s, and I remember falling in love with his lyrics. When I first heard "Here Come The Martian Martians" I was shocked to listen to something which so closely aligned with my sense of humor. Listening to it now, I connected less with the whimsy, but was much more impressed by his craftsmanship -- he has an amazing ability to write hooks.

hpunch said...

Thank you for championing this Classic Kinks track that no one considers classic. Most folks dismiss their RCA concept albums, but I find them very underrated.
You made a very astute point in your comparison to Sunny Afternoon.
I will borrow it in my continuing defense of this song.
I agree with you about Preservation Act 2 missing The Tramp's point of view.

I've been enjoying your blog and seeing you write about one of my favorite semi-obscure Kinks tracks compelled me to finally comment.