Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Kinks Cure in Times of Trouble

"Here Comes Flash" /
The Kinks
In times of trouble, there's always a Kinks song to salve the soul. Or else get you fired up to make some changes.
If you don't know the Kinks' albums Preservation Act 1 (1973) and Preservation Act 2 (1974), then you should. Because 40-odd years ago songwriter Ray Davies predicted the rise of a Trump-like demagogue and the social devastation it would wreak for the trusting working- and middle-class voters who bought his line of BS.
The lyrics really say it all. Here's the worrisome chorus:
You'd better run, you'd better fly.
Hide your daughters, hide your wives.
Lock your doors and stay inside
Here comes Flash.

There's no way that you can win,
You must obey his every whim,
Or else he's going to do you in.
Here comes Flash.

My first thoughts upon waking up the morning after the election were sorrow and sympathy for the legions of Trump supporters who honestly believed that he could restore American jobs (forever lost to computerization) and repair the economy. (Tax cuts, yeah, but only for the top 10%, followed by stagflation and the disappearance of cheap imported consumer goods after trade agreements are nixed.)

Yes, he promises the world. But can he deliver?

He will smile at you, be a friend to you,
Then he's gonna screw you just like that.
He is going to use you, his heavies will abuse you,
And then he's gonna lean on you,
Here comes Flash.

And what is becoming even more painfully clear is that Trump's cadre of "outsiders" (once you subtract the sleazy deeply-connected lobbyists who have wormed their way into his transition team) include a fair number of hate-mongering thugs. Here's Ray's analysis:

He is gonna rough you up,
Duff you up and touch you up,
And then he's gonna screw you up.
Even though he's mean on you,
There's nothing else that you can do
Just sit back and take his abuse.

The jagged, frenetic energy of this track, the hysterical falsettos of the vocals, telegraph panic in the streets. And let's remember where Ray Davies came from -- a working-class London family displaced by slum clearance, union loyalists, Labour party die-hards. Even after Ray ascended into the privileged classes due to his enormous talent, he never lost his sympathy for the common man, the working joe, the guy in the street.

Who will soon enough begin to feel the sting of betrayal.

Once we loved and trusted him,
Now his thugs and bullies make us live in sin.
They suppress us, oppress us, molest us, possess us.

Mark my words. Or if you don't believe me, go download (or buy in CD!) this preternaturally prescient rock opera and just see how it all turns out.

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