‘Truly, truly trust your heart’: another arcadian adventure in Kinkdom with Dave Davies

Oh, sweeter times when we all got on.

bashfulbadgers blog

‘In a sheltered place where I viewed the world’: Dave values his alternative perspective.

At the satsang in September 2012, when asked for the setlist as a souvenir, Dave Davies promises innocently, ‘I’ll give it to you after’ before realising what he’s said and following it up with a smile and a saucy wink.

In that instant, I can visualise him so well at sixteen, descending a grand staircase before striding across a hotel foyer in thigh-length leather boots to snog a gorgeous redheaded teenage fan and fervently vow ‘I’ll see you later.’

Even without his stunning looks, he could effortlessly capture a young girl’s heart with just a dash of the charm and confidence he seemed to hold in abundance. That charm is still captivating today in the now 65-year-old rocker, whose interest in the spiritual side of life stretches back some 40 years.

At one point on the…

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John Inverdale infected with chronic case of foot in mouth disease


tennis team

The BBC tennis team

FAILURE TO CONTAIN the highly contagious and pernicious new strain of a debilitating verbal virus has led to its global spread throughout the sports and media world.

I’m saddened to report that many of the top tennis players have now (obviously) been afflicted with the strange virus first detected at the French Open in 2015, causing sufferers to repeat the word ‘obviously’ multiple times in every spoken statement. The condition has since spread like wildfire among the tennis and media community.

Symptoms and source

Recent Queens finalist South African Kevin Anderson exhibited classic early symptoms of the disease in post-match interviews. Prognosis is not good. Those affected also seem to become less and less coherent over time.

mark petchey

Patient Zero, Mark Petchey

Patient Zero has been identified as commentator Mark Petchey. It is not known where he contracted it but the TV personality may obviously have been incubating it for some time before becoming infectious.

It is thought that he transmitted it to Andy Murray some time during their coaching association; and the tennis number one’s condition in this regard has deteriorated progressively, even while his game has improved.

‘In terms of’ strain

A particularly virulent strain has now attacked those sufferers already susceptible, with the unfortunate Petchey still the worst affected. His immune system appears to have collapsed and, as well as the ubiquitous ‘obviously’, ‘in terms of’ has completely taken over his speech. I believe that those of, shall we say, decidedly average, intelligence mistakenly assume slotting in ‘in terms of’ makes them sound cleverer. Poor Mark is almost unable to speak a sentence without using this expression in the most excruciatingly inappropriate way, such as ‘in terms of running around your backhand to hit your forehand’ and ‘in terms of getting your first serve in’. In terms of favourites, one of mine is ‘in terms of  both women playing well at the same time’.


Sam Smith infected

In terms of the original virus, obviously, close proximity and prolonged exposure to an infected person are believed to be high risk factors. Patient Zero is thought to have communicated the virus to his colleague Sam Smith during the Grand Slam in Paris as early as 2015, where conditions were particularly conducive to its spread. And it now appears to be reaching epidemic proportions. Wimbledon champion Murray remains among the worst hit, with ‘obviously’ now creeping into virtually every other sentence; and Jo Konta has regrettably also now begun to develop symptoms.

andy murray

Andy Murray one of the worst affected

The virus is also sometimes accompanied by the compulsion to insert other unnecessary words and phrases into speech at frequent intervals, such as ‘basically’, ‘actually’, ‘to be honest’, ‘at the end of the day’ and ‘for me’ (Marion Bartoli was severely afflicted by this strain, another that could be traced back to Petchey, who should by all rights be in isolation).

Foot-in-mouth disease


John Inverdale made no sense to start with

Individuals who already make little sense seem to be the most at risk. John Inverdale, long stricken by a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease, prone to use ‘actually’ three times in every sentence, has proved this to be the case by succumbing to the virus in record time.

The completely clueless bozo unhappily couples this with a compulsive garrulousness that only serves to further reveal the depth of his ignorance. This inability to shut up has one upside, however, in that he makes his fellow commentator John Lloyd seem like a tennis Einstein in contrast.

Amazingly, as if it wasn’t bad enough that he’s always on the BBC, ITV4 is also still allowing the veteran broadcaster to work despite the advanced stage of his infection and his evident deterioration in terms of commentary, obviously. But perhaps that’s because he has made a living out of talking arrant nonsense, such as ‘That was a tame error from Venus there’ (should really have been, ‘in terms of errors, that was a tame one, obviously’) and wrongly identifying matches as ‘games’ and the BBC is no longer capable of distinguishing sense from rubbish.

Inverdale the everyman

Inverdale’s classic approach seems to be to rehash old debates at length, often preambled with ‘Obviously, we always bang on about this … [whatever tired old subject] but I don’t have the imagination to think of an original question so I’m going to go on flogging a dead horse in my attempt to be entirely predictable at all times.’

adrian crop

Inverdale has never heard of Adrian Mannarino

He will always be more concerned with the amount of prize money up for grabs and the number of racquets that get smashed than anything relating to the match and is prepared to go on about such subjects at tedious and repetitive length, often drawing pointless and inappropriate analogies with other sports.

Inverdale also patronisingly assumes that everyone watching is as stupid as he is. That, because he hasn’t heard of a player, no one watching on TV will have either.

He will address a co-commentator thus, ‘For people watching at home, John/Mark/Fabrice, obviously a lot of them didn’t know much about Adrian Mannarino until today …’. So, remember, for his ‘Now you may not have come across So-and-so before’; ‘Probably a lot of people watching won’t recognise this name’; and ‘Those of you watching at home may be unfamiliar with’, read ‘I have no idea who this person is and so I’m fairly confident you won’t know him either.’


Hearing him commentate is depressingly akin to overhearing some average bloke down your local club who’s had a few, with extremely limited knowledge of a subject, holding forth at length to someone who’s just that fraction drunker and dimmer.

I wonder if they operate a short-straw system to decide who will be paired with him for a match?

john lloyd

Chris Evert and John Lloyd many moons ago

It can be amusing listening to other commentators interacting with the Inverdale version of banter. He will voice some asinine inquiry, ostensibly seeking enlightenment from his colleague. No matter how idiotic or irrelevant this may be, John Lloyd will still gamely attempt to answer it. It could go:

Inverdale: ‘So, John, do you think it’s harder to defeat a player wearing a baseball cap the right way round or is it more difficult to beat someone wearing one backwards?’

Lloyd: ‘Well, I haven’t really considered that before and I suppose it might depend on where the sun is at the time.’

Or he will quote some pointless statistic he’s dredged up and request their opinion:

Inverdale: ‘Do you happen to know how many players with more than four vowels in terms of their name have reached this stage of the tournament in the last 25 years?’

Lloyd: ‘No I don’t know how many, John. It’s interesting that you should bring that up.’

Often, the fascinating fact is something he’s read in the ATP Media Guide or, as he calls it, the ‘player guidebook’.

If he’s with Peter Fleming, the American just bluntly tells him to ask something more sensible. And has been known to tell Mark Petchey to shut up when at the absolute end of his tether. Or he ignores the question altogether, refusing to dignify it with a response, particularly if the irrelevant waffle is going on during the point.

Petchey is also a fan of statistics but is rendered absurdly sycophantic alongside ex-players like Fabrice Santoro. In terms of his approach, obviously, he tends to research some obscure facts about said player and then serve them up as trivia questions to his long-suffering co-host.


Fabrice Santoro has remained immune

Petchey: ‘Do you happen to know who hit a double-handed backhand lob over Pete Sampras’s head at 3.30 pm on Centre Court the first Wednesday of Wimbledon in 2001?’

Santoro: ‘No, Mark. Surprise me.’

Petchey: ‘It was you, Fabrice.’


His match tactics also perhaps reveal why he won so few matches, as he’s been heard to say, ‘Sometimes it’s a good idea to lose the first set, just to get the crowd on your side.’ Mark must have been very popular with the spectators, that’s all I can say.

Spread and treatment

The failure to quarantine victims of the virus has contributed to its dissemination. Away from tennis, broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire has completely succumbed to the ‘in terms of’ strain (‘in terms of did you start imagining it your way?’; ‘in terms of the way you help women’; ‘in terms of Jamie’); and is believed to have communicated this to her alternative host Joanna Gosling, who is bravely struggling with the condition. It is rife within the national broadcasting corporation. A news reporter called Carletta came up with ‘In terms of what’s happening on the ground …’.

Medical experts have been working on a cure for some time but are hindered by the fact that those affected can no longer distinguish sense from waffle and thus refuse to believe they have the condition.


The Zverev or Zerev (as per Petch) brothers

There is no known cure although certain figures have remained immune, including Peter Fleming, Jim Courier and Fabrice Santoro. It is not clear whether they benefit from natural resistance or have been inoculated against verbal flannel in general at some point in the past.

I am indebted to my sister for the following examples taken down during a single match commentated by Patient Zero.


  1. In terms of Zverev (always pronounced ‘Zerev’ by the Petchster)
  2. In terms of tennis
  3. In terms of his serve
  4. In terms of which match they got to see first
  5. In terms of fashion
  6. In terms of winning grand slams
  7. In terms of the weather
  8. In terms of the feel
  9. In terms of shot selection
  10. In terms of physicality
  11. In terms of putting what he has …
  12. In terms of fluctuations
  13. In terms of his backhand
  14. In terms of where he’s hitting the ball
  15. In terms of the way that they play


Sascha ‘Zerev’, as Petchster insists on calling the German Wunderkind

And at that point she gave up. I think she may have run out of paper.

But we continued to note down a few choice examples, such as ‘that counts, in terms of you haven’t struck the ball yet’, ‘a decision in terms of closing the roof’; ‘in terms of points won against the first serves’; ‘in terms of break points on offer’.

I have to say that Sam Smith’s commentary, on the other hand, is imaginative and informative. She will often have spoken to players and their families/coaches and gleaned some insight to share with the viewer. I loved her describing one player’s game as ‘a box of faulty fireworks’; and Carla Suarez Navarro as ‘feeding on the scraps’ from opponent Simona Halep. She has a nice turn of phrase.

Links here to previous tennis blogs on the Masters and Olympic tennis.



‘I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show’: connecting the careers of Ray Davies and the man cast as him in Kinks movie


‘There are stars in every city’: Ray plays the harmonica

Only connect’ said E.M. Forster; and there are connections galore to be discovered between the careers of Ray Davies and the young actor slated to play him in the upcoming Kinks movie.

I became a fan of the mild-mannered, sweet-natured Johnny Flynn’s folk music after checking him out when he was cast as Ray. 

Here is my blog on the initial casting announcement, exploring Flynn’s suitability, in case you missed it.

You Really Got Me, the planned band biopic, is still listed in the catch-all category of ‘in development’ on IMDb so I’ve no real notion what stage it has reached. I’ve a sneaking suspicion this might be a step backwards and that at one point it had reached ‘pre-production’. Whatever, it has been at a hiatus for rather a long time, perhaps to be expected with such a momentous undertaking, while other projects involving the actors have come to fruition. We can only hope it is making steady progress behind the scenes.


‘And make out a smile, though I wear a frown’: Johnny Flynn

Whatever, Flynn seems to me a good fit for Ray. I first thought this was some pretentious art school graduate – his band is called ‘The Sussex Wit’ and songs include ‘Churlish May’ (a song disproving my sister’s theory that folk songs never just say ‘May’ but always ‘the month of May’) and ‘Barnacled Warship’ but this half-brother to Ripper Street’s Jerome Flynn is in fact quite down to earth.

Here is a first link between the two. Both artists’ bands feature their younger siblings. Johnny’s sister Lillie is part of The Sussex Wit although I haven’t heard any reports of big bust-ups à la The Kinks. The Flynn clan seems a lot more civilised than the Davies in that respect. She also plays the flute and the keyboards. But Lillie’s angelic harmonies could also be paralleled with those of another family member, Ray’s first wife Rasa and her contribution to seminal Kinks track ‘Waterloo Sunset’.


Lillie and bro at Sunny Afternoon: ‘I love to live so pleasantly’

Of Flynn’s music, I initially really liked only a couple of tracks, liltingly captivating ‘The Water’ and ‘Bottom of the Sea Blues’ but I did like them a lot. On repeat listening, others grew on me, like ‘Brown Trout Blues’, ‘Wayne Rooney’ and the end of ‘Gypsy Hymn’ is magical and uplifting (but only from about 2.15 in, the beginning is a bit unbearable).

Flynn himself is supremely likeable, a gifted songwriter, engaging performer and talented actor. You have to hand it to someone who effortlessly manages to transcend the dodgy material and daft premise in the time-travel children’s adventure Crusade in Jeans. (Yes, it is every bit as daft as it sounds – Emily Watson, what were you thinking?) 

And it’s also hard not to warm to someone who commands attention by shyly delivering corny cheese jokes to an enraptured US audience, as he does in this footage, almost as if he’s whispering them across the table to a dinner partner in a favourite restaurant. He has the whole room eating (the cheese jokes) out of the palm of his hand. 


‘Time has come for a new crusade’: time travelling

The young Davies may not have had the same posh accent as Flynn but I think he did boast a similar self-effacing charm, at least in interviews and often in live performance. He’s always possessed the ability to laugh at himself and recognise his own shortcomings, as illustrated by the sometimes painful self-awareness evident in his lyrics.

He is similarly entrancing in this set for the BBC, blessed with an undeniable charisma and watchability. You can’t take your eyes off him (except perhaps to look at Dave, equally mesmerising) and strain your ears to catch his (almost sotto voce) patter between songs although the audience present don’t seem that bothered in a too-cool-for-school way typical of the Beeb.

Talking of art school, Ray attended this himself in the early 60s, namely Hornsey College of Art, so has always been something of a l’uomo universale, although I don’t think he lasted long as a student.

He penned the hilarious ‘Art School Babe’ in 1998, lampooning his younger self’s attempts to woo such a hippy chick in the 60s.

But there was one chick in particular. She was in the sculpture
department. She was a complete goddess. She was like one of these
continental film stars.’

The lyrics run thus:


‘When all that you live on is lipgloss and cigarettes’: Juliette Greco

‘My art school babe with your palette-knives and brushes,
painted face, Egyptian eye-brows and bright red lips
Pale white make-up, tight black skirts like Juliette Greco
And there’s me quoting pretentious chat up lines
from Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau and Jean-Paul Sartre.’

You may recall that Jarvis Cocker also had experience of a sculpture student, this at another London art school, Central St Martin’s, remembered in ‘Common People’:


‘Smoke some fags and play some pool’: Jarvis Cocker

She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge
She studied sculpture at Saint Martin’s College.

That’s where I caught her eye.
She told me that her Dad was loaded
I said in that case I’ll have a rum and coca-cola.’

I’ve remarked on the similarities between Ray and the Pulp frontman before. It’s easy to identify with the figures in such confessional but self-deprecatory songwriting. Their lyrics often betray a wryly honest and darkly humorous outlook on life, appealing to the misfits among us (and referencing a well-known brand of fizzy drink).

A selection of Cocker’s lyrics and poems have been published in book form in Mother, Brother, Lover but on a brief browse they don’t represent his talent in that regard all that well.

Johnny Flynn (also reputed to write poems) actually went one better and married his art school babe, Beatrice Minns, confiding:


‘This is where I’m rooted’: Johnny al fresco

It’s funny because she always took the piss out of me for being kind of folky. She was an art student and real highbrow, and the worlds I was part of seemed really crass to her.’

But, although with pretensions to be working class, Johnny won a music scholarship to Winchester College, where he sang in the chapel choir, and perhaps his success in fitting in there meant he was more likely to win the fair art school maiden than the secondary modern schoolboy from Muswell Hill.

Both singers suffered anxiety in early fatherhood when touring tore them away from their spouses and newborns.

Ray had married 17-year-old Rasa Dicpetri rather hurriedly in November 1964 after she became pregnant, or so the story goes. Ironically, she had not been a particular fan of The Kinks when a friend persuaded her to bunk off school and hitchhike to a show in a Sheffield club. Rasa’s chum knew drummer Mick Avory, ensuring them entrance through the stage door at Esquire and entry into a different world from any the Bradford schoolgirl had ever known.


‘His clothes are loud, but never square’: huntsmen

She recalls that ‘everyone was very excited, shouting and screaming’ and that the band were clad in stage costumes of red hunting jackets and frilly white shirts. Ray would appear to have been smitten and renewed contact with Rasa when she travelled to London to visit her sister.

In Jon Savage’s official biography of the group, she reports,

‘I didn’t feel the pressure because to me it was very exciting, like a whirlwind.’

However, it would seem awfully strange to try to return to normality once ‘You Really Got Me’ hit no. 1 and the teenage Lithuanian immigrant ended up being expelled from convent school due to her association with the band, following a near-riot in a park where she had arranged to meet her new squeeze.


‘Holiday in Waikiki’: ‘I sailed to Hawaii in the USA’

This was a difficult time for Ray, with the onus of trying to write hits, front the band, keep Mick and Dave from killing each other, satisfy fans and tour Australia, Europe and the US. On top of that, he confesses that being married freaked him out a little.

Fatherhood would only add to the pressure on the young man, who resolved to improve matters for his family, moving Rasa and the baby, born in May 1965, out of a small flat whose front door had just fallen off its hinges.

Ray’s alter ego in X-Ray (autobiography he calls ‘the tormented rantings of a sex-crazed rock’n’roller’), R.D., recalls,

‘from the day Louisa was born until the day we had to take off for America, it was a crazy, thoughtless time …. I promised that when I returned … I’d find us a house to live in with more space and in better shape.’

The accounts of that time make it sound as if everything was happening so quickly that it almost seems speeded up like in one of those old-time film reels, and totally chaotic. Everyone was getting swept up in the momentum of the group’s meteoric rise.

Ray was extremely reluctant to embark on a stateside tour but by then was just one of the cogs in the ‘money go round’ and had to play his part.


‘When I look up from my pillow I dream you are there with me’: the young parents

Attempts to procure Rasa a visa to fly out to join him initially failed due to her Russian parentage but these obstacles were eventually overcome. However, it’s hard to believe Ray was that glad to see her, considering what he’d been getting up to on tour. Let’s just say that matrimony didn’t seem to instil in him any strong compulsion to keep it in his pants. Rasa was still suffering the after-effects of the traumatic childbirth. R.D. remarks, ‘It was like she had been mauled by a butcher … Her stitches had hardly healed.’ Although overjoyed to be reunited with her, Ray’s elation was tempered by his spouse’s gentle evasion of physical intimacy.

This enforced separation from wife and firstborn daughter Louisa precipitated a profound depression and in the end a breakdown of sorts. He penned the touchingly aching ‘I Go to Sleep’ (probably more famously covered by one-time fan and short-time squeeze Chrissie Hynde with The Pretenders, mother of Ray’s admirably activist daughter Natalie) during this period, pining for his wife and child. ‘Sitting in My Hotel’ also recounts the self-imposed isolation the alienated homesick musician underwent abroad (when not busy getting his end away, one presumes).


‘I’m not going to take it all lying down’: Natalie fights for the environment

In a poignant parallel, Flynn recalls experiencing panic attacks on a US tour after his son was born:

When Gabriel arrived there was a couple of weeks of confused bliss, then I had to go on tour. I was pressured to do it; we hadn’t toured the album in America and risked losing our record deal.’

This could be a good way into the character of Ray, faced with a similar career imperative at a similar turning point in his life.


Johnny and son Gabriel: ‘I remember you well from before you were born’

Often driving through the night, Flynn’s memory of the 8,000-mile tour is of

Not sleeping, driving shitloads. I’d just had a kid and was really worried about missing that time with him. I started having quite severe panic attacks.’

He identifies these as

a welling up of big changes that needed working out: having a child, getting married. I think lots of people go through similar things around these junctures in life.’

The birth of his son and death of his father Eric also prompted a preoccupation with ageing, often discerned in Kinks lyrics too, in songs from ‘Autumn Almanac’ on. Flynn declares:

I always looked forward to being older and being able to better inhabit my thoughts.’

Hm, just wait till you’ve tried it – you might change your mind.


‘Everybody’s in showbiz’: Ray on cover of Radio Times

In addition to his incredible musical pedigree, having written some of the best-loved songs of the 60s and 70s, Ray writes books (Americana being his latest publishing venture) and musical theatre (Come Dancing was another success) and, like Johnny, has not been averse to a bit of acting either, starring in a BBC TV play, The Long Distance Piano Player, in 1970.

He appeared in the less than successful Absolute Beginners in 1986, alongside such luminaries as the late great David Bowie and James Fox, as well in as a weird type of TV stage show drama called Starmaker, a curiosity worth checking out on YouTube just for the strangeness factor if you’re a dedicated follower.

The lead Kink is a dream of a role for Johnny, given name Joe, who’s already appeared as a musician in the film Lotus Eaters. Its IMDb synopsis reads:

A group of young Londoners struggle to find meaning in their lives while masking their discontent with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.’

And here is Johnny singing the rather sweet ‘Papa Was a Rodeo’ to the fabulously beautiful Antonia Campbell-Hughes.

In Song One in 2014 he also plays a musician, this time opposite Anne Hathaway.


Flynn has also starred in an ill-fated sitcom, Brotherhood, shown on Comedy Central to general opprobrium. It only scores 3.9 on IMDb.


‘And always by your brother’s side’: the cast of sitcom Brotherhood.

I didn’t think it was nearly as bad as all that and found some episodes quite amusing. You can check them out on YouTube if you’re so inclined. The setup seems similar to the US’s Two and a Half Men, although I have never watched this so can’t confirm.

Johnny plays inveterate philanderer Toby, a charming child-man with absolutely no sense of responsibility and a rampant desire to bed all available women. He is as camp as Ray Davies in drag. At Christmas. Or even Ray Davies dressed up as Father Christmas.

ray as santa

‘Don’t give my brother a Steve Austin outfit’: Ray likes to dress up.

His acting career may have perhaps surpassed Ray’s but the latter has undoubtedly enjoyed more success in the music business, not only in the charts but even in turning the early days of The Kinks into theatre. His recent musical purporting to tell the story of the band, Sunny Afternoon, is reviewed here. The production is touring the UK as I write and you could do a lot worse than seek it out if you want a rip-roaring slice of 60s entertainment.

In another parallel, both Davies and Flynn have penned themes for TV sitcoms, Ray for Till Death Do Us Part and Johnny for The Detectorists.



Incidentally, Ray had long ago composed a song (currently familiar from TV adverts for a bathroom supplier) on the subject of Queen Victoria. The period drama recently shown on ITV of a Sunday night about the monarch is notable for also starring Tom Hughes as the queen’s paramour Albert. He is making an admirable job of it and I had picked him to play Mick Avory in the movie. But I fear the part would have to be bumped up from ‘also ran’ status to satisfy the actor now. And Johnny Flynn is now also playing another famous musician in Stardust, the controversial movie about David Bowie’s early days.

Post Postscript

And so, having just seen Beast, featuring the elfin Jessie Buckley being bewitched by the ‘hauntingly handsome’ (TVChoice review) Johnny Flynn, I find myself won back over. She is captivating and sympathetic, like she could be the love child of Michael Hutchence and Laura Ingalls. He is winning and enigmatic, earthy, with grubby fingernails – just the type we all wish we’d met on Jersey when young and virginal.


Johnny Flynn quotes from here and here. And Ray and Rasa quotes from X-Ray and Jon Savage’s The Kinks: The Official Biography. Kinks lyrics as ever from kindakinks.net.

Further reading

Here’s first blog on movie casting. And further thoughts.

And the third. Last one here.

And all Kinks blogs thus far are listed here.

And here is a poem about Jarvis and Pulp.

‘He stuns you by degrees’*: Benedict Benjamin at The Harrison


Benedict Benjamin takes the stage like a slightly awkward sixth former surprised to be receiving a prize at Speech Day. But he interacts with the audience in the easy, charming and affable manner of one accustomed to the spotlight. His polite soft-spokenness itself commands attention, particularly in the intimate setting of the basement of the Harrison Pub on a Wednesday night.

The songs similarly start in a quietly unassuming manner and you might anticipate some mildly toe-tapping pleasant folk fare, his voice pretty but a little brittle like an overnight frost glittering on a morning field. But then it unexpectedly swells into a potent, full-bodied instrument that soars and swoops like a flock of starlings involved in their mysterious manoeuvres in the sky. The sound is lush and spacious, captivating and other, with choruses that swirl round your head in triumphant crescendos. You’re swept up as by a wave crashing on a beach, transported to another realm, carried away on the tide.



The first time I experienced this beguiling effect was when Benjamin supported the North Carolina folk duo Mandolin Orange at the Borderline. It was like witnessing a nightclub act in a David Lynch movie, deep scarlet velvet curtains and all, at times as if he were channelling Roy Orbison or Bobby Vinton in some beautiful and haunting homage, conjuring up adolescent sweethearts clinging to each other for the last dance at some long ago school hop (‘I Would Like to See You Tonight’, ‘Coward’).

Melodies edged with melancholy showcase lyrics that demonstrate an honest and mature self-awareness, rather like those of a young (and old) Ray Davies, someone who’s recognised and come to reluctant terms with their own weaknesses and foibles.

There is a dividing line

Cutting through the will and the design

There is who I’d like to be and who I am

I’m the sum of choices made

I’m the sum of errors and mistakes

There is who I’d like to be and who I am

 (from ‘Thin Skin’)

Benjamin characterises these resonant, passionate, confessional songs as ‘depressing’ but in fact their very intensity renders them strangely uplifting and cathartic. The refrains of ‘Thin Skin’, ‘Change Your Mind’, ‘Had What You Had’, ‘My Feet Have No Need for the Ground’ entwine themselves into your memory like cats around your ankles and you find yourself humming them for days after.

Like a dead or dying star

Still present in the night

There’s a love inside my heart

That will not yield its light


Like a song or symphony

Whose melody remains

long after the singer’s tongue

has sung its last refrain

(from ‘Love That’s Left Behind’)


Setlist as far as I knew it

Move on Those Tired Feet

Change Your Mind

Thin Skin

[Illegible note – may have been

I Would Like to See You]

Feet Have No Need

How Weak and Unguarded


Had What You Had

Love Left Behind


Hardest Thing

Something in My Blood

The venue in Harrison Street, just off Gray’s Inn Road, was an ideal fit for this once a fortnight event, and I couldn’t really recommend it more. Three (or even four) acts and it’s all free – what’s not to like? It’s worth getting there an hour or so early to enjoy a vegan stew in the bar beforehand too. Find out more here.benedict

Benedict Benjamin’s album Night Songs is on CD now.

He is supporting Slow Dancer and Jack Robert Hardman at the Lock Tavern, Chalk Farm Road on Wednesday 25 May.

Here’s a poem about ‘Waterloo Sunset’, a song tinged with a similar sense of pathos.


*From Emily Dickinson.

You know what rhymes with happy? A jaded armchair viewer on the sappy Christmas movies blighting the TV schedules this holiday season


Nicollette, Nicollette …

The spirit of comatose reporter Nicollette Sheridan leaves her body, and tries to prevent a real-estate development in a small town.

Yes, this is the genuine plot of an actual movie, namely The Christmas Spirit from 2013.

Oh, Nicollette, Nicollette, I love you but this is just too far for me to follow. And way too much for me to swallow.

But they are all over the schedules like blowflies on a decomposing corpse, only mostly they’re far less fun. Yes, you know what I’m talking about – the sappy xmas with a capital X movies that have been on TV since about the middle of October and will no doubt continue to at least mid-February.

Enough already, we cry, as we reach for the remote, desperate to escape the cloying sentiment, sugary enough to induce cavities the size of the Grand Canyon in even the most ardent and dedicated flosser.

As if the excesses of the festival that celebrates conspicuous consumption aren’t about to drive any sane and sober individual to drink, with neighbourhood lights displays becoming ever more over the top and internet deal emails swamping every inbox, normal TV has been taken over by those determined to shove Christmas down our throats whether we like it or not.


Alicia Witt to agent: not another xmas movie!

Not only are these ‘feelgood’ festive films on Five every afternoon but now they are loitering on all the other free channels like bored teenagers outside McDonalds, spoiling for a fight. So thank you CBS Drama, True Entertainment and Movie Mix for piling in this yuletide with your own rubbish romcoms and dreary dramas on a holiday theme. Here’s my previous blog on the phenomenon but I can’t help with tips on how to avoid them, especially if you live in a house with someone who still believes in the magic of the season or harbours delusions that one day they’ll come across a good Christmas movie.

Here are some synopses from the TV guide (TV Choice magazine) to whet your appetite. The plots seem to get more and more far-fetched, revolving around the lead, usually female, finally finding true love, and increasingly feature angels, miracles or vaguely Christmas stuff magically coming to life and, rather more prosaically, but perhaps slightly more appositely, a disproportionate number of DEPARTMENT STORES and EXECUTIVES.

A Snow Globe Christmas

TV EXECUTIVE Alicia Witt wakes up in another world where she has a family, and must decide which life she wants to lead. [Alicia Witt crops up a lot, especially considering she couldn’t act her way out of a seasonal hamper.]

Angels and Ornaments

A Christmas tree ornament of a carol singer comes to life and tries to help his owner find romance. [Let me say that again.] A Christmas tree ornament of a carol singer comes to life and tries to help his owner find romance.


A picture’s worth 1,000 words.

The Perfect Holiday

A girl turns to a DEPARTMENT STORE Santa for help in finding a new husband for her single mum.

A Perfect Christmas

Advertising executive Claire Coffee meets a DEPARTMENT STORE mannequin that has come to life, and finds it has become her perfect man.

All I Want for Christmas

A self-centred woman [probably an EXECUTIVE] meets one of Santa’s helpers, who gives her a pin which enables her to hear people’s thoughts.

A Bride for Christmas

After Arielle Kebbel calls off her third engagement she swears off love – until professional singleton Andrew Walker comes along, with a bet that he can convince a woman to marry him before Christmas.


Barry Watson and Melissa Joan Hart: how do we live this down?

Holiday Help

Single mum Alicia Witt is broke and desperate to get a job so she can make her daughter’s Christmas a happy one. With the help of an angel, she gets a position at a DEPARTMENT STORE where she also meets the love of her life.

The Santa Suit

A greedy EXECUTIVE is magically turned into a Santa Claus impersonator, and gains some much-needed Christmas spirit as a result.

Even Barry Watson and Melissa Joan Hart have been sucked into the seasonal soup, starring in 2014’s Santa Con, in which Watson’s con man character is ordered by his parole officer to take a minimum-wage job as, wouldn’t you know it, a DEPARTMENT STORE Santa during the holidays … . You can guess that romance and a change of heart is in STORE here. I haven’t seen this one yet. Maybe it’s okay. But somehow I doubt it.

Blog also available on blogspot here.


Celluloid villains and heroes: casting news on the Kinks movie


Dave, Pete, Ray and Mick pensive in the park.

So it’s time to take another gander at progress on the much heralded biopic of the great British band The Kinks.

I’m happy to report that, after wondering in my last blog on the Sunny Afternoon musical if the project had temporarily stalled, things seem to be moving in the right direction again. It hadn’t derailed but just diverted into a siding for a spell. Let’s face it, it was never going to rocket along at express train pace.

The fascinating story of the duelling brothers whose musical collaboration resulted in such classic hits as You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset, Lola, Sunny Afternoon and Dead End Street is brimming over with about as much conflict as any screenwriter could wish for.

It’s ideal source material for a drama, replete with bad romances, band brawls, breakdowns, break-ups, comebacks, familial tragedies, feuds, groupies, paternity suits, schoolgirl pregnancies, sibling rivalry, royalty disputes, suicide attempts, transsexuals, US bans.

It would have to be the ‘long-term passion project’ that it has been dubbed, requiring as it does the cooperation of both Ray and Dave Davies in order to succeed. I can only imagine the patience and perseverance this entails, balancing competing demands from all sides.

Ray, hair similar

Ray, hair similar

With Ray based in Highgate, close to where the brothers grew up in Muswell Hill and Dave now domiciled in New York, physical distance is catapulted into the mix, just to complicate matters further. Though perhaps that’s sometimes a good thing – easier to put any problems down to transatlantic miscommunication rather than inbuilt aversion and ingrained enmity. After all, Ray says the story is ‘about two lads who didn’t really fit together’, observing that ‘I never really had a relationship with my brother in a normal way.’

You Really Got Me is in the catch-all early phase of pre-production, according to IMDb. Major casting decisions have been made, for better or worse.


to Johnny Flynn’s barnet.

The leads are already on board – Johnny Flynn as Ray and George MacKay as Dave.  Both British, Johnny has about nine years on George but both look young enough to play the Davies when success first struck.

Johnny (given name Joe) Flynn boasts an interesting musical pedigree. He fronts a folk group called Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit.

Here is a clip of them performing ‘The Water’, quite appositely, for Radio Kink FM.

Their songs carry titles like Barnacled Warship and Churlish May, very drama school, but also the more down to earth Wayne Rooney.

I think Flynn has something indefinable of Ray about him that means I can see him in the role; and his talking voice sounds a bit like Ray when he was pretending to be posher, like in this interview on an Australian tour.

A brief clip from Hit Scene.

His grandfather Eric Flynn went to RADA, where he met first wife Fern, and took the lead in many West End musicals. Sons Daniel and Jerome from his first marriage followed their parents’ footsteps into drama.

So Johnny is a younger half-sibling to Ripper Street and Game of Thrones star Jerome Flynn, who back in the mists of time also enjoyed chart fortune as one-half of duo Robson & Jerome, alongside small-screen stalwart Robson Green.

The pair from the TV show Soldier, Soldier scored a trio of number ones with covers of ‘Unchained Melody’ (top selling single of 1995, in the days when you had to physically purchase something for it to count), ‘I Believe’ and ‘What Becomes of the Brokenhearted’ after being persuaded to sign a recording contract by then little-known Simon Cowell (before he evolved into the savvy music mogul inextricably linked with The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent). The duo also scored two number one albums with their covers of classic hits.

Johnny is currently starring in Hangmen, a play that recently transferred from the Royal Court to Wyndham’s Theatre.


George MacKay.

MacKay was born into a bit of a theatrical family too, his mother a costume designer and father a stage/lighting designer. When only ten, young George landed the part of Curly, one of the Lost Boys, in Peter Pan.

The actor most recently featured on the small screen in an adaptation of The Outsider. Personally, I found him distinctly underwhelming in the role of Lewis Aldridge, one that I’d had natural sympathy for in the novel. He seemed to be sleepwalking through the part as if lobotomised, and his failure to change his frankly rather moronic expression irritated me so much that I couldn’t face the second part.


George Maguire.

His face reminds me a little of a Wallace and Gromit clay animation figure and I submit that he is not nearly attractive enough to play Dave, whose features were all clearly defined. Fans from the 60s all confirm that Dave was the heartthrob of the group.

MacKay singing, but only a little, in Sunshine on Leith

However, the director of Sunshine Dexter Fletcher seems almost to be describing the youthful Dave Davies when he talks about MacKay, insisting:

He does have that ‘men want to be him, girls want to be with him’ potential. He’s cool, he’s funny, he’s sexy, he’s sensitive, he’s intelligent and he’s good-looking.

I can’t see it myself though I’m quite impressed that MacKay is dating Saoirse Ronan.

lincoln county

No caption necessary.

George Maguire from the musical bears more superficial resemblance to the youngest Kink and is certainly sexier. Remember, both Maguire and John Dagleish, who played Ray in Sunny Afternoon, deservedly picked up Olivier Awards for their roles.

The only other casting news is that director Julien Temple’s daughter (with producer Amanda Temple) Juno is to play Ray’s ex-wife Rasa. This is a little perturbing to me, not the choice per se, as I’m sure she’ll be fine (and if anything she’s more attractive than Rasa), but because I would have thought that casting the rest of the band would take priority. Juno has enjoyed parts in major features such as Notes on a Scandal and Atonement.

Rasa seemed to have been assigned quite a pivotal role in the musical so this may go for the film too. Ray’s stance on the marriage has mellowed since the publication of his biography X-Ray (reviewed here), in which his alter ego seems to view his younger incarnation as a gullible sap possibly hoodwinked into the whole thing by people on the make. He calls it ‘only part of a series of events happening to me that were completely out of my control’.


Ray and Rasa.


Juno Temple.

Daughter of Lithuanian refugees, Rasa Dicpetri met Ray as a fan of the band and still a pupil at a Roman Catholic girls’ school in Bradford.  The two became romantically entangled although Ray was enjoying a smorgasbord of, well, let’s just call it ‘other sex stuff’ with groupies and other girlfriends, according to the aforesaid bio. And he may even have ‘played away’ (I’m veering into tabloid territory) with Marianne Faithfull but it’s all artfully smudged by our unreliable narrator(s) so that the full picture is obscured. When Rasa fell pregnant (neither brother seems to have been that au fait with contraception), the pair got hitched fairly swiftly. I get the feeling that Rasa’s parents pretty much insisted on it. And that Ray didn’t really have time to object. Or a leg to stand on.


Tom Hughes in Ticking.

Dave had got his first love Sue Sheehan pregnant while both were still at school and the couple were separated by parental intervention, although Dave came to know his daughter Tracey years later.

I still favour Tom Hughes (currently starring in Ticking at Trafalgar Studios) for Mick Avory and Matthew Goode (most recently in The Good Wife stateside and Downton Abbey over here) for Pete Quaife (see previous blog on subject) and pray their roles get beefed up a bit from the minor back-up ones they were parcelled out in the musical.

Hats off to producer Jeremy Thomas and director Julien Temple for keeping the project on track. And here are details of all my blogs on The Kinks so far.

I had to publish this on blogger instead of wordpress because the latter’s always being updated beyond the capacity of my antique PC. The blogger version is here.

‘Long ago in my life story’: the Sunny Afternoon musical takes us all for a stroll down an incident-strewn memory lane with The Kinks

new kinks

‘We’ll have a picnic on the grass’: The Kinks in the Lola period, about when the show’s narrative ends.

And the award goes to … here’s how Sunny Afternoon fared in the Olivier Awards – it picked up Mastercard Best New Musical; Best Actor in a Musical (John Dagleish); Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical (George Maguire); while the Autograph Sound Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music went to Ray Davies. Not a bad haul at all.




So run some of the plaudits promoting ‘the hit new musical’ about The Kinks. I’d also heard positive reports from fans and thought it was about time I verified whether Sunny Afternoon was actually as good as I’d been told.

Chances are, you know more Kinks songs than you think you do. Which is what most of the audience seemed to be saying at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End as the show progressed.

And this rambunctiously feelgood musical, loosely based on the genesis and early success of the London group, is just what is needed to reinvigorate interest in one of the most underrated and under-appreciated bands around.[1]

The badger had fallen out of love with The Kinks after the most scintillating and deeply fulfilling rock’n’rollercoaster of a honeymoon due to a brush with the dark side in the form of a Davies’ solicitor.[2] This bruising encounter precipitated a hasty retreat to the sett for a prolonged spell of wound-licking. But this incredible show from Ray Davies tempted me back into the wild outdoors of the wider Kinkdom and was just what I needed to reignite my passion.

I couldn’t help but half envy those folk exclaiming ‘Oh, I didn’t know that was by the Kinks!’, a position I had found myself in four years previously, after seeing the duo of inspiring BBC4 documentaries on the two captivating and talented brothers. The uninitiated have so many more utterly brilliant songs to discover.

sunny poster

‘And everybody’s in show biz’: poster for the show.

Written by Joe Penhall from Ray’s original story, the narrative fairly rollicks along and is crammed full of incident, both comic and tragic. Pivotal events feature, like the improvised replacement of the upper-crust singer at the debs’ balls after an unfortunate accident with a mike; the untimely death of fun-loving Davies sister Rene, who sadly succumbed to a heart condition on Ray’s 13th birthday after giving him his first guitar earlier that same day;[3] the mutilation of the little green amp; the infamous Cardiff gig when Mick responded to intense provocation from Dave by assaulting him with a drum pedal, memorably cutting his head open and instigating a police manhunt;[4] the battle to regain publishing rights; the fact that they became the only English band to get banned from the US (for three years at the height of their fame); and Ray’s rather romanticised relationship with Rasa.

The musical just touches on the infighting and power struggle ever so lightly, like a butterfly barely grazing a blossom. This is no time to air grievances and grind axes but instead to titillate spectators with a soupçon of the never-ending emotional mini-drama that was life in The Kinks.

If the dialogue is at times a tad sentimental and the events sometimes played for a cheap laugh, it generally works. And you just cannot fault the songs. They are amazing. And these versions, available on a CD, pretty damn worthwhile too.

Imaginatively staged, the autobiographical nature of much of the material means it effortlessly helps to progress and illustrate this necessarily simplified and distilled history of the band. Ray has skilfully divided the songs between cast members (a multitalented lot, they all sing, dance, play instruments, the beautiful sisters with their fantastic legs, even the policeman from Call the Midwife). So to the song selection.


‘Please tell my mother and all my ex-lovers’: The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, one-time squeeze of Ray Davies, is the mother of his daughter Natalie.

Some of it is a subtle reminder from Ray, like the tiniest nudge with the very tip of his elbow or the subtlest conspiratorial blink of one eyelid, that ‘I wrote that too, in case you didn’t know’. As with I Go to Sleep, Stop Your Sobbing and Days, which charted for The Pretenders and Kirsty MacColl. We didn’t get David Watts though, memorably covered by The Jam; and inspired by one of the more notorious episodes in the band’s history, when Ray playfully offered to trade his inebriated younger brother to an army major in return for a country property.

As well as the hits like You Really Got Me, Dead End Street, Waterloo Sunset, Dedicated Follower, Well-respected Man, Sunny Afternoon and Lola, we are also treated to the less well-known but very welcome This Strange Effect, This Time Tomorrow, Sitting in My Hotel, A Long Way from Home, Too Much on My Mind and Money Go Round. Not to mention I’m Not Like Everybody Else, that anthem for all wilful misfits everywhere, featured in hit US show The Sopranos. It was originally the B side of no. 1 smash Sunny Afternoon back in 1966. I was surprised but pleased to hear the achingly beautiful Set Me Free as well, because I gather it had been unpopular with the band when released as an early single.

I would have also loved Get Back in the Line and Celluloid Heroes. Maybe they’ll feature in the next musical, along with Apeman and Autumn Almanac. 1980s ‘comeback’ hit Come Dancing had already cropped up in a previous, equally agreeable Ray Davies production at the Stratford East Theatre.

Characterisation-wise, it’s light on the pithy one-liners that Mick Avory was famous for – the down-to-earth drummer was adroit at summing things up, delivering humorous deliberations in his trademark deadpan manner. And Pete Quaife the peacekeeper comes across as a bit of a whiner, à la Pike from Dad’s Army. Ray affectionately lampoons himself as the archetypical tortured artist, incapable of expressing himself except through song. While he’s someone who’s seen to suffer for his art’s sake, Dave is pictured as just enjoying the spoils. Ray tries to please everyone whereas Dave focuses more determinedly on pleasing himself.

Maybe the Dave is a little one-dimensional, portrayed as an out-and-out hedonist[5] but the actor George Maguire is young and good-looking with a great haircut and tons of energy that he throws into the part. He inhabits ‘Dave the Rave’ with impressive verve and vitality. Dave’s talking voice is hard to imitate; it has an odd soft, high quality to it that the actor’s unable to replicate, unsurprisingly.

John Dagleish, although blessed with a terrific singing voice – his vocals are impeccable – looks a little long in the tooth despite his relative youth (his face has a certain comfortably lived-in quality) to play the young Ray; and he’s not nearly as cute. But his portrayal has garnered him an Olivier nomination for Best Actor in a Musical, to which news he reacted: ‘It’s amazing. I’m massively, massively overwhelmed … I’m over the moon. It hasn’t sunk in yet.’

sunny cast

‘Now I’m grown up and playing in a band’: the stage version of The Kinks.

It would appear that The Kinks frontman didn’t make many demands about this stage version of himself, allowing the actor a free hand: ‘Ray took the pressure off quite early. He said he didn’t want an impersonation.’[6]

One minor criticism I have is that Dagleish has a tendency to deliver his lines in a plaintive and nasal tone, making him sound distressingly like Rodney whingeing about one of Del Boy’s ill-fated get-rich-quick schemes in Only Fools and Horses. This may actually be a deliberate ploy to glean every ounce of humour out of the situation. But it’s not how I see Ray, even if he sees himself like that.

But these are nitpicking concerns really, when the production just bowls you over with its sheer zest for life and the tremendous gusto of the performers. It’s impossible not to get carried away.

If you even like just one Kinks song, I recommend you see Sunny Afternoon; and prepare to be blown away and converted to Kinks fandom. Your life may never be the same.

Transferring from a successful run at Hampstead Theatre in the first instance, the musical’s stint at the Harold Pinter has already been extended once and now it’s playing through till 24 October 2015. For more information and tickets see official website.

Of course enough stuff happened to The Kinks to fill a few more play scripts. The planned Julien Temple film You Really Got Me has yet to materialise, [7] though and may have drifted into the doldrums.


‘Where did my chest go?’: the very cute young Ray.

Whether it will ever come to pass, who knows? How can we expect the Davies boys to ever play nicely? The same with the much-hyped reunion – one minute it’s definitely on the cards; the next it’s a completely ridiculous notion and fans may as well howl at the moon.

Dave and Ray continue to dance around each other like two punch-drunk boxers squaring up for a fight neither really relishes. Somehow it’s in their contract; everything devolves into this eternally adversarial stalemate. Would we really have it any other way? The truly astonishing thing is that they lasted in a band together from 1963 to 1996 without committing fratricide.

I wonder if Sunny Afternoon represents the older sibling cutting his losses from the stalled film negotiations, determined to derive something positive from the experience in the meantime? In which case, it’s a happy by-product. Ever resourceful, Ray is adept at channelling his energies and efforts, diverting them from the original scheme into this worthy consolation prize of a side project.

As you get older, you yearn to tell your story, to present your version of events for posterity. Ray has at least told some of the tale here, in a wholeheartedly engaging and entertaining manner. The film, calling for collaboration, was always going to be a more unstable edifice, at the moment just a precarious barely standing façade, but it’s still listed on IMDB as in development. Fingers crossed.

Here are all other bashfulbadgersblogs on Kinks themes.

The footnotes

[1] Although there is a huge caucus of fantastically dedicated fans already in the know.

[2] The nocturnal rambler had ill-advisedly trespassed into too personal a realm, it would seem.

[3] A very touching episode that undoubtedly had a profound effect on the teenage Ray, but we didn’t need to be hit over the head with it quite so many times.

[4] Covered in previous blogs about the volatile relationships between band members.

[5] When in actuality Dave was quite a complicated young man, battling his own demons and regrets, while, and maybe partly by, capitalising on his fame, sex appeal and undeniable charisma.

[6] See more at digital spy. It’s been nominated for five awards in total.

[7] Previous bashful blogs here and here address casting decisions.

‘I used to think why aren’t people paying attention to my music?’ Hmm, not something Shakey Graves can ruefully wonder any more

pickathon copy

‘I am as I came; and I’ll still be the same’: no more a one-man band but still as authentic as all get out.

I used to be conflicted about Shakey Graves. I was one of those people not paying attention. There was a time not that long ago when I’d watch a fraction of one of his performances on YouTube and regretfully reflect ‘So cute but what an awful racket’[1] before switching to something else.

Now I like to think I’ve seen the light and am more inclined to consider the Austin musician a total genius, even a truly original talent. Or perhaps he’s worked some nefarious voodoo magic on me through the ether? Enabling me to appreciate more than his range of nifty headgear.

Certain numbers are still admittedly an acquired taste, not to be advocated to the dilettante (I still class ‘willow garden’, ‘late july’, ‘daisy chains’, perhaps ‘dusty lion’ in this category) but pay dividends for the more hardcore enthusiast after a few listens.

Indeed, some of the tracks I used to find unbearable I now find myself playing over and over. I learnt the lesson that sometimes it’s better to just listen, without the distraction of visuals. When I listened to the ‘original’ tracks from roll the bones, it sparked an instant infatuation; and it allowed me to appreciate the live versions spun off from them so much better.

shakey and boo

‘Come skin your knees with us’: Shakey and his boy Boo.

Early favourites were ‘to cure what ails’, ‘chinatown’, ‘once in a while’ and ‘halloween’. But pretty soon I expanded my playlist to include multiple others. The guy is nothing if not prolific, turning out exquisitely crafted songs at an impressive rate. Where do all these lilting melodies and bewitching licks come from?[2] I can now safely recommend a bevy of outstanding tunes from the Graves canon.[3]

I find it hard to categorise his music, maybe because I’m British, but that seems to me a positive thing. Indie-folk, alt-folk, anti-folk, roots-rock, country-blues, alt-Americana, hobo-bluegrass,[4] other random compound adjectives. Who cares what you call it when it sounds this good?

The version of ‘city in a bottle’ with horns from the roll the bones album just makes you want to jump up, dance and sing and celebrate life. In fact, that whole album is a tour de force reminding me how inspirational and mind-altering music can be. When I’d just about given up on listening to new stuff in favour of artists from the past I’d shamefully only recently discovered, like the magnificent Gene Clark.

Every now and then a song sounds like Jason Walton might have performed it at the Dew Drop Inn in the 1930s/70s; and yet at the same time completely contemporary.

Must-hear-every-day song at the moment is the intense and heartfelt ballad ‘hardwired’ from the new album and the war came.[5] But it might be about to be superseded by the compelling, atmospheric and yet still so much fun ‘wild card’, performed here at Stetson Center Stage, with the multi-talented Chris Boosahda.

Because the Graves (given name Alejandro Rose-Garcia) catalogue also features quirkily poetic and charmingly conversational lyrics referencing drugs, a lot of stuff I frankly don’t understand, extolling the virtues of driving under the influence,[6] passing on life lessons, travelogues, fantasy, imagined tragic blues scenarios, sex; lyrics that are never anything but thought-provoking, displaying a gift for observation, humour and turn of phrase:

You can hang my foreskin from the rafters

What’s a dagger without a cloak?

Seems like I don’t get to wear my bare feet at all

If I lived in a white home you could see the coffee rings on everything

I’ve become a cold case
Bruised and black
Laying on a table with my eyes rolled back
A husband for dear Doe, Jane

Some are drawn from real-life, as he recounts a NY encounter with a hooker (going by the evocatively suggestive moniker of Quick [or maybe Kwik] Monique the Freak) on public transport while his boots languished in a state of disrepair (‘city in a bottle’).

shakeydrink copy

‘If I booze it I might lose it’: well here goes nothing.

Or recalls his delighted discovery of indecently young moonshine brashly boasting of its immaturity: ‘the first time I ever went to New York City and we had pulled over to get some booze in a liquor store’. They found this commercial moonshine with the irresistible slogan ‘less than 30 days old!’.

We just got such a kick out of it that we decided to write a fake country song while we were driving to keep ourselves entertained.

This later developed into ‘georgia moon’, ‘a love song to moonshine and drunk-driving’.

Maybe it’s just as well he didn’t play this one at his high school showcase (discussed later), with its rather dubious logic that the ideal antidote for fatigue and adverse weather conditions while driving is adding alcohol to the mix. Not sure what Judge Judy would have to say about that but I’m pretty sure her honour wouldn’t approve. But I think she’d agree it’s a beautiful song, even if she might not applaud the sentiment, more likely to appeal to the schoolkids, not to mention other folks bent on a good time.[7]

Doing 85 going north on 81
Won’t see my baby till the rising of the sun
Tennessee keeps warnin’ me if I booze it I might lose it
But shine on Georgia moon
Shine on

Yeah well it’s hard to see the road
Through this rain and all the fog
Well this Appalachian driving has me tired as a dog
But this mason full of moonshine, is gonna keep me mighty strong
So shine on Georgia moon
Shine on

So no wonder Graves has amassed a legion of fans and is in constant demand on the festival scene with sell-out gigs all over the shop. Not to mention an appearance on Conan to his credit.

But naturally this success, which has been a short time coming, arrives bound up with the burden of expectation, which this artist seems acutely aware of:

It gets a little stressful – just having people’s expectations is always something that’s sort of dreadful, I suppose.

He has been honing his craft, both in songwriting and performance, conceding in interview that in earlier days he’d anticipated more immediate recognition before realising he hadn’t actually put in enough work. It’s telling of his character that he was initially arrogant enough to expect everything to come dead easy; and then honest, mature and self-aware enough to acknowledge his misplaced certainty.

shakey from austin chronicle

‘Won’t be long till I belong’: his time has come.

I wasn’t able to consistently convey what it is I do to people in a live space, where it would be spotty and I’d have a lot of excuses like [adopts slightly aggressive and aggrieved tone] “Well, you should listen to the recording’ or whatever, you know.”

Well, the sinuous hipped one can certainly consistently deliver live now. He is never less than captivating as a performer, lithe and animated. Sometimes he mumbles or hums his way shyly into the melodies of his songs. He tells stories and jokes of dubious quality, engages easily with the crowd, welcomes special guests (the fiddler at Louisville was my favourite), is all awestruck, humble and gratified to provoke such a wildly enthusiastic reception, yelping delightedly: ‘Thank y’all for comin’ out!’

He’s been feted for offering different versions of his songs live so that each show is essentially new. I know how tedious it can be when you see someone replicate the same set, same versions, same segues, introductions, jokes at successive gigs so that they all seem interchangeable.[8]

And I can imagine this can get boring for the artist too especially one who plays as regularly as Shakey does. So I’m prepared for some rambunctious roustabout to become a maudlin introspection and vice versa. And for almost anything to happen.

In this interview with the less-than-ideal role model, some high school students listen to a song about sex and amphetamines, ‘tomorrow’,[9] and ask a po-faced question about identity and composition and Shakey just runs with it till they run out of tape. He has said elsewhere: ‘I like to sit down and really stew in it.’

This lot are studying Jean-Luc Godard so is it any wonder they come over un peu pretentious? One quotes Godard’s assertion that there is ‘clear continuity between all forms of expression’, before asking ‘What continuity do you see between your music and your acting?’

Rose-Garcia gamely takes this on, discoursing at length in a considered manner the nature of said continuities but the gist of his response is that there are ‘tons’.

Something else to his credit is his fealty to his home town: ‘I made a conscious decision to try and work in Austin’. This would seem to have paid off in spades with the town choosing to celebrate an annual Shakey Graves Day in honour of its illustrious son.

He talks of the delights of recording an album at home too:

It’s fun to walk into an actual studio but it’s also really great to like not take your bathrobe off all day long and be up at 3.30 in the morning with your friends … I am so happy that my house is a recording studio.

Songs to check out if you haven’t already, include, in no particular order –

wild card, hardwired, to cure what ails, parliament, good police, chinatown, once in a while, halloween, georgia moon, donor blues, passionate kisses, lonely hill, city in a bottle, christopher columbus, family tree, proper fence, bully’s lament, tomorrow, doe, jane, word of mouth, built to roam, dearly departed, business lunch, rotten ol’ me, coat of arms, only son, the perfect parts, pansy waltz, call it heaven, house of winston as well as covers like i’m on fire, dead end street, darkness on the edge of town, lovefool, somebody to love …

One thing continues to baffle me – how come someone whose fingernails look a little on the grubby side and who works up such a healthy sweat manages to keep his white vests so pristine? Mine would be a disgrace.

Here are poems inspired by Shakey and his version of ‘i’m on fire’. And a new poem about ‘love, patiently’, off Nobody’s Fool.

And I have to report (not without a certain slightly disgruntled chopped-liveredness) that this blog by one of my close relations got the following Shakey seal of approval – ‘you tell your sister that she wrote probably the most in depth analysis of my sonic intention that I’ve ever seen’.

The footnotes

[1] Perhaps in retrospect a few of the clips did display that hint of self-indulgence that often creeps in when someone’s absurdly gifted.  The recorded versions helped me reevaluate and appreciate the songs.

[2] A fair amount from consuming magic mushrooms apparently, according to this interview in Glide. Would they’d done the same for me.

[3] I managed to buy two albums at a recent gig but wish he would release a lot of his other material in a physical format.

[4] Okay, I made that one up.

[5] Although this becomes a more light-hearted honky tonk lament at live shows.

[6] I’ve grown out of that now myself.

[7] I’ve recently renounced good times after my traumatic American experience and would settle for a good night’s sleep without having to take a couple handfuls of drugs, washed down with anything that might possibly amplify their effect.

[8] Much as I love Ray Davies, every show on the last tour was basically the same.

[9] Well, I’m being a little facetious. I guess it’s more about not wanting to plan for the future. I never did either so let that be a lesson to you.

Images from Facebook, YouTube and Austin Chronicle. Quotes from various interviews.


‘Well, the road’s been rocky along the way’: Walking in the rain in the footsteps of The Kinks on the Little North London Kinks Tour

Thought I’d reblog Kinks tour blogs in case anyone doing them to commemorate 50th anniversary of ‘You Really Got Me’.

bashfulbadgers blog

You know how it is, you get a stupid idea in your head and, even though circumstances conspire to reveal its foolhardiness, it’s lodged there and you can’t help carrying it through.

That’s the way it was when we hatched a plan rather late in the day to try to fit in a fraction of the Kinks Little North London Tour one December afternoon last week. Having unexpectedly managed to get last-minute £10 tickets for a sold-out play at the Royal Court (the excellent The Westbridge), we wanted to get some value for money out of our overpriced one-day travelcards.

Our trusty, ancient A-Z is falling apart and one of the relevant pages, p.28, is loose so could come with us but its facing page, 29, is still attached to a small sheaf of others. I’m pathologically incapable of damaging any book, even one in so sorry a state…

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On the trail of The Kinks one sunny afternoon in London town

Thought I’d reblog Kinks tours in case people want to do to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ‘You Really Got Me’.

bashfulbadgers blog

‘It’s only a stormy sky’: above the Coldfall Estate, where Pete Quaife once lived.

‘Just remember all the good times that you had’: happier days

A dinner at a friend’s in Walthamstow and a sunny Saturday afternoon made the perfect excuse to sneak in some more Kinks-related sights. We’ve totally abandoned any attempt to do a Kinks Little or Great North London Tour as our progress always ends up being too shambolic. Clutching my further-annotated hand-drawn map from our first Kinks adventure, we set forth with just a basic idea of where we might end up going.

Disembarking at East Finchley tube, we repair to a presumably new, local café imaginatively monikered ‘New Local Café’, where the service is fast and friendly and the staff know the customers’ names and inquire about their relatives. Go for the ever-good-value breakfasts (veggie ones available) to fortify us for Fortis Green and our…

View original post 978 more words

And did I mention that no one looks better in a vest? The sultry Josh Henderson leads the charge as Dallas hits UK shores once more


Josh and Jesse, who play the combative cousins, share a lighter moment.

So Dallas returns to our screens in the autumn (UK premiere 4 September 2014), thanks to those kind folks over at Five. Sweltering from a midsummer heatwave, we can retreat indoors and instead immerse ourselves once more in the hectic and convoluted drama of the infamous Ewing family. Pass the remote control and pour the pina colada.

Oh, what a release it is to involve yourself in someone else’s troubles. And troubles don’t come any more involving than this. So we’ll sit down on sofas to witness the trials of a family torn apart by old feuds, deceit and betrayal, loyalty, infidelity, adultery, secrets and lies, pride and greed, love and lust (sated and thwarted and a dozen variants in between).[1]

Some of the success of the revival can be attributed to the deft intermingling of original cast members, notably Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray, still impassioned and believable in the identities viewers had associated with them for so long, with the even more hotblooded young guns.

Gratuitous pic of Barry Watson, an uncanny cross between Josh and Tim Olyphant.

Gratuitous pic of Barry Watson, who looks like an uncanny cross between Josh and Tim Olyphant.

Here’s a look at the ingredients that made that first series such a tasty proposition.

However, the real winner to emerge from the new Dallas is undoubtedly burgeoning (you’ll see why I chose that adjective further down) heartthrob and real-life Texan Josh Henderson, who plays John Ross Ewing III, son of the great schemer JR, with a sexually appealing blend of inveigling charm and inveterate villainy.

Incorrigible and irresistible, this lascivious chip off the old block exhibits just enough human frailty, mischievous mouth twitches and bewitching nose crinkles, teasing and nuanced salacious glances, moral laxity, suggestive head tilting (he is getting better than Olyphant),[2] sardonically arched eyebrows, widened blue and green eyes, toned abs, etc. for you to forgive him just about anything.

That’s not to mention a proclivity to strip down to his underwear at the least provocation. This may take inspiration from the actor’s own tendency toward exhibitionism. See blog on Josh in his underwear. He truly is the whole package.

While the Henderson star is undoubtedly on the rise, it’s a mystery why Jesse Metcalfe, equally unhard to look at, hasn’t reaped similar rewards in popularity gain. Perhaps because he was better known to begin with whereas Josh was a relatively unknown commodity, although both had roles (non-concurrent) in Desperate Housewives?


Ahem. Josh enjoys a stroll.

Or is it because we all love a bad boy and untrustworthiness oozes out of John Ross like an overpowering pheromone? And, as Christopher Ewing, son of Bobby and Pam, Jesse is a little too cute boy next door and not as rough around the edges? Still, I bet there’s a few of us wouldn’t mind rumpling Chrissie up a bit. Perhaps he needs to bump up his scenes with his recalcitrant cousin.

Convention demands that soap plots rely on all concerned getting the wrong end of the stick and going off half-cocked at fairly regular intervals. John Ross is a past master at this and the character established as someone all too likely to leap before looking. Ruled neither by head nor heart, this Ewing’s actions seem to be guided by an altogether different part of his anatomy (the impressive dimensions of which are outlined in candid shots of the actor out walking with a friend).

I’d previously looked at Josh’s online profile and mooted him as the poster boy for social networking, his natural talent at which may also be a factor in his rapid ascendancy. He’s someone who seems to genuinely appreciate his good fortune and fans. The latter reward him with unconditional devotion and unlimited support.

His Facebook followers (nudging 173,000) have now outstripped those of Timothy Olyphant, who he’d been lagging behind in my last comparison, and is someone who rarely updates his FB status.[3] And by a pretty impressive margin, it has to be said.[4] So perhaps keeping us informed does pay off as I suggested in that previous blog on the merits of exploiting social media, as the new John Ross Ewing does so adroitly?


Winsome threesome: Andrea, Josh and Sadie.

Of course the new Dallas Season 3 is just airing in the US, so that may have helped boost Josh’s figures somewhat. But his ultra-accessible persona and the fact that he shares so much could also have a lot to do with his meteoric ascent.

Not only does the actor keep us up to date with all things Dallas, TV schedules, reminders, pictures from the set, etc. He also entertains us with a myriad of other miscellaneous stuff. He posts photos of himself and his friends on a hike, with girlfriend Andrea Boehlke[5] and dog Sadie, videos himself at the drop of a hat, say, in the act of dropping a hat. We are treated to selfies of Josh ill in bed (imagine the collective ‘ah’ of sympathy from aficionados), feigning sleep (adorably), by the Christmas tree, in the gym or vouchsafed snapshots of him as a nipper from family albums.

We are privy to the actor’s ‘blond’ moments, as when he ran up and down a canyon in LA, then ran home, only to realise he’d left his car at the canyon and had to run back for it.


Even before Josh had too much of a presence on Facebook, he would generously share all kind of interesting ‘material’ on his myspace channel.

As when he and his intellectual cohorts ponder the big questions of the day and, magnanimously, video the results for our edification. Here they debate whether it’s more painful to stub your ‘pinky toe’, ‘big toe’ or bang your ‘funny bone’. His two buddies are cosied up next to him on the couch, one throwing in the wild card of getting hit in the balls just to muddy the waters further. Josh then has to clarify the parameters before putting it to the public vote. You gotta love the Rain Man impression too.

no one looks better in a vest

No one looks better in a vest.

In other vlogs he can be seen extolling the virtues of floss harps (‘Way to go, floss dude’) or hammily and endearingly miming to a song in his hotel room. He’s a hoot and evidently not one to take himself too seriously, always an attractive quality.

One consistent factor is that Josh is generally sporting a vest, one item of clothing he can’t get enough of or look any hotter in. Well, who could ever get enough of Josh in a vest?[6]

So, hell yeah, I’m looking forward to the advent of season 3 and hoping for some more John Ross lines like ‘Your head’s gonna look real nice above my fireplace, governor’ or ‘You keep a junkyard dog [like JR] chained up long enough, it’ll only get meaner’.

And here’s a clip showing the denouement of the last season, just to whet your appetite for the mouth-watering feast of Season 3, with a great song, ‘Liar’, which sounds like it could have been sung by Josh. But the artists are unknown.


[1] And yet their family is still way more functional than mine. Also a lot better-looking.

[2] And I marvel at the Justified star’s proficiency here. And examine his rivalry with Jeremy Renner.

[3] Last update 3 April, I’m just saying.

[4] 300,000 is nothing to be sniffed at.

[5] Andrea actually gets in on the act as an extra, seen sitting with John Ross, he flirting shamelessly, natch, at the Ewing barbecue in Episode 2. They look pretty good together.

[6] Neither has it escaped my notice that some unscrupulously creative individual is posting obscene photo-shopped images of Josh in compromising nude poses. Indeed so outraged have I been by this liberty that I have had to return to tumblr a number of times in order to verify what I have seen and confirm that these disgusting exploitative images are still there. Someone, perhaps even the same reprehensible character, had done the same for Timothy Olyphant.

‘Some are survivors, some are debris’: some lyrics stand the test of time, others are perhaps better washed away with the tar on the tide


‘You know I read it in a magazine’: The Kinks searching for inspiration.

How did we end up with so many songs about putting your hands in the air or being sexy in the club? When did it become de rigueur to shove your own name into songs, over and over again? Is it a blatant marketing ploy to embed the artist’s name in the listener’s brain by virtue of dumb repetition? Or is it because the artist in question is in danger of forgetting their name if it’s not drummed into them every thirty seconds?

Shakira is a unique enough artist not to need to do this, writing in ‘Underneath Your Clothes’,


‘Lucky that my breasts are small and humble’: Shakira usually has something worth saying.

You’re a song written by the hands of God
Underneath your clothes, there’s an endless story,
There’s the man I chose, there’s my territory
Because of you I forgot the smart ways to lie
Because of you I’m running out of reasons to cry

but even she capitulates to the modern trend and inserts her own name into ‘Hips Don’t Lie’.Whatever, I’m sure I can’t be the only one who’s wondering why people write such crap lyrics these days. All right, it’s not solely a modern trend. Remember ‘D.I.S.C.O’ by Ottawan, for instance. That was hmm, well, less said about that the better but hey, at least it taught you how to spell.

And, of course, there’ll always be those staples of love songs along the lines of ‘You are beautiful to me’, ‘I would do anything for you’, ‘You’re the only one for me’ ad nauseam.

The Evening Standard Awards

‘Lost and found, just in time’: Ray retrieves lyrics from the dry cleaners.

So I know that it’s a bit of a generalisation and that there are great lyricists still out there plying their trade with wit and acuity.

One of our greatest songwriters, Ray Davies, is still turning out songs that speak to us all. I can imagine this senior citizen scrawling down a verse or two on a till receipt while waiting for a bus, then losing it for weeks in an overcoat pocket. Maybe a drycleaner finds it, only to screw it up and throw it away.

Does he wake up in the night with a phrase rolling around in his head, capturing an emotion, moment or memory and then forget it while hunting around for pen and paper?

At least let’s hope he gets the majority down somewhere for posterity. Like

Then they towed away our culture
To a depot in South Wales

from ‘One More Time’.

In the past Kinks lyrics have anguished over the conflict between man and machine in the poignant ‘God’s Children’ or painted a picture of the quiet desperation of the jobless in the plaintively touching ‘Get Back in the Line’ –

Facing the world ain’t easy when there isn’t anything going
Standing at the corner waiting watching time go by
Will I go to work today or shall I bide my time
‘Cos when I see that union man walking down the street
He’s the man who decides if I live or I die, if I starve, or I eat.

Other times the eldest Davies brother tends to cast a slightly satirical yet affectionate eye on his subjects, as in, respectively, ‘Did Ya’ and ‘The Poseur’:

My Cuban heels are hurting my feet,
Just to add to my despair.

But he’s been practising days
To make his hair fall a certain way.

Anyone else speculate about whether Ray was thinking of a particular record in the following lines from ‘To the Bone’?

In my back room there’s an old 45
That we played all summer long

billy ocean

Red light spells danger: Billy Ocean is still indecently sexy.

I always imagine it to be ‘Red Light Spells Danger’, a Billy Ocean standard. When I saw Ray at the Hop Farm, Billy Ocean was also on the bill and I picture Ray breaking into a dance backstage.

And one of his best subjects was of course himself. ‘The Road’ took a frank look at the life of The Kinks on the road, chronicling their rise and fall, from humble, hopeful beginnings in ‘far away places like Wigan and Birmingham’, while ‘Yours truly strummed away with a slightly limp wrist’ through the heights of their success, to humble, less hopeful endings, acknowledging that the music press had written them off as has-beens who had no business to still be touring.[1]

So ‘Some are survivors, some are debris’ and Ray’s snapshot is not exactly Kodachrome:

The bed and breakfasts and the greasy spoons
The loser bars and the noisy rooms
The casualties who did too many lines
Wasted talent on women and wine.

But then let’s not forget that The Kinks frontman was also responsible for ‘Plastic Man’

He’s got plastic lips that hide his plastic teeth and gums,
And plastic legs that reach up to his plastic bum.
(Plastic bum)

Everyone can have an off day. Nobody’s perfect.

wimpy bar

‘Take me I’m yours/Because dreams are made of this’: back when a knickerbocker glory was the height of sophistication.

Squeeze lyrics also effortlessly tapped into the zeitgeist. They have the casual throwaway brilliance of something scribbled on a serviette with a free turf accountant pen picked up from the pavement while Glenn Tilbrook waited for a knickerbocker glory in a Wimpy bar in 1976. Trying to look cool in pastel flares, doused in his Dad’s Old Spice filched from the top of the bathroom cabinet, hoping to bump into a girl he had a crush on in school.

The words have a quality of ease, an unstrained natural resonance, filtering relatable and universal themes through the particularities of a south London 70s-80s adolescence. These lyrics represent an object lesson in conveying a vivid impression in a few succinct words of observational iridescence. Match it to a melody and enliven with an irresistible hook from Chris Difford, paste in a rousing exultant chorus for a surefire top twenty hit.

Words whose first provenance was perhaps the backseat of a mushroom coloured Fiat 2300 estate or an Austin Maxi the exact shade of gypsy tart from school dinners on an annual 100-mile journey to a campsite in the New Forest, with a gang of unruly siblings, most of them carsick by the time you’ve reached the Hog’s Back,[2] which you thought just the name for a layby to throw up in. You could have jotted down a Squeeze lyric on the inside cover of a colouring book, packed for the rainy day in-tent confinement typical of the annual camping trip.

Squinting faces at the sky
A Harold Robbins paperback.
But behind the chalet, my holiday’s complete
[…]Two fat ladies windowshop
Something for the mantelpiece

‘Pulling Mussels from a Shell’ instantly transports me back to six-week school summer holidays and sheltering behind one of those striped windbreaks so essential to any day on a beach on the south coast. You would get tar over your Woollies flip-flops and someone would always lose one in the suspiciously brownish surf, helplessly watching it get carried off by the tide. No-one could swim and risk chasing it into the sea. Resisting getting changed into cousin’s via sister hand-me-down swimsuits under fraying old towels. Dipping a toe into the edge of a wave, face braced and teeth gritted for the coldness of the frothy scum of tide.

braving the tide

‘Shrinking in the sea so cold’: me and my siblings steel ourselves to brave the tide.

The one meal we ever had out in my family was lunch at what we called Cliff’s Café (a vintage postcard has it as ‘The Cliff Café’ and more up-to-date sources as The Cliff Restaurant) in Barton on Sea, our day-trip destination from the campsite. Nosh looks a lot posher than it used to be. We would always have the same thing – plaice and chips followed by a banana split.

Then Squeeze also gave us the cautionary tale of ‘Up the Junction’ and plenty of stories of love gone bad/cold/indifferent like ‘Another Nail for My Heart’, with poetic lines like

With where have you beens
And faraway frowns
Trying to be good
By not being round.

‘Labelled with Love’ recounts the sad story of someone fallen on hard times taking refuge in alcohol, recreating her lonely world with deft touches of telling detail –

The postman delivers the final reminders
She sells off her silver and poodles in china.

Jarvis Cocker is another lyricist prone to build a picture so real and down to earth that you feel you could just walk into it and experience it for yourself. For ‘Babies’, it kind of helps that I know a girl who lived in Stanhope Road who had an older boyfriend and a younger sister.


‘I know you’re never going to be with me’: Jarvis wistfully recalls being someone’s bit on the side in ‘Pink Glove’.

Well it happened years ago when you lived on Stanhope Road.
We listened to your sister when she came home from school
‘cos she was two years older and she had boys in her room.

Or that I can remember long sultry afternoons playing 40-40 in the park, waiting to be called in for my tea, as in ‘Acrylic Afternoons’, which summons up that time so well that I can almost smell the mown grass and hot tarmac, school plimsolls and creosote.

On a pink quilted eiderdown, I want to pull your knickers down.
Net curtains blow slightly in the breeze.
Lemonade light filtering through the trees.

And I’m sure many young girls about to embark on their first sexual experience identify with the excruciating blend of vulnerability and embarrassment summoned up in ‘Underwear’.

Why don’t you close the door and shut the curtains
‘Cos you’re not going anywhere.
He’s coming up the stairs and in a moment he’ll want to see your underwear.
I couldn’t stop it now. There’s no way to get out.
He’s standing far too near. How the hell did you get here?
Semi-naked in somebody else’s room.

I particularly admire Jarvis for his seeming ability to effortlessly inhabit a female mindset and empathise so vividly.

Of course he can also wield this power in a critical fashion, as in ‘Common People’.

She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge
She studied sculpture at Saint Martin’s College, that’s where I caught her eye.
She told me that her Dad was loaded
I said in that case I’ll have a rum and coca-cola.

Rent a flat above a shop, cut your hair and get a job.
Smoke some fags and play some pool, pretend you never went to school.
But still you’ll never get it right
‘cos when you’re laid in bed at night watching roaches climb the wall
If you call your Dad he could stop it all.

You’ll never watch your life slide out of view, and dance and drink and screw
Because there’s nothing else to do.

College was where I too first became aware that there were people way better off than me who never seemed to realise it. I could briefly and successfully mingle in that milieu thanks to good A Level grades and a maximum grant but, come the vacation, our lives diverged wildly. I don’t think any of them got a summer job in a meat factory in Belvedere.

The Pulp singer can be cutting, as in ‘Razzmatazz’

Am I talking too fast or are you just playing dumb?
If you want I can write it down.

Songs can sometimes span a whole narrative, present you with a vignette, relate an anecdote or sometimes just tease you with an episode from a greater drama.


‘And if I stared too long/I’d probably break down and cry’: Axl Rose oddly romantic for someone who chose his name as an anagram for oral sex.

The weirdest people come up with poetry when you least expect it. From Guns’n’Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, I love this couplet:

She’s got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain.

Some of my favourite words that crop up in song lyrics are allegorically, horizontally, cavalier, facsimile, whoring, hubcap, debentures, Bonaparte, post-meridiem, punctured and gruesome, premonition, horny backed toad. I bet a few of you can identify the sources without me needing to tell you.

I’ll end with some great rhymes, some so bad they’re good. Another from Ray in ‘Well Respected Man’:

And he plays at stocks and shares
And he goes to the regatta.
He adores the girl next door
Because he’s dying to get at her.

While ‘A Fine Romance’ features

My heart’s not made of plastic
You’re the reason I’m sarcastic

And Bobbie Gentry in ‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’ complained:

What do you get when you fall in love?
You get enough germs to catch pneumonia.
And when you do, he’ll never phone ya.

But perhaps my favourite is culled from ‘Cry Me a River’, the brilliant

Told me love was too plebeian,
Told me you were through with me and …

My next lyric blog will take a look at more mondegreens (that’s misheard lyrics to most of us), words that had to be changed for TV, right-on social conscience lyrics, among other miscellany.

For another blogger’s diatribe against modern music, see here. And my last lyric blog is here. And a list of all my Kinks blogs is here.

[1] This was before Ray achieved the hallowed status of National Treasure.

[2] Wikipedia traces the history of the landmark, mentioning that Jane Austen, in an 1813 letter to her sister Cassandra, wrote: ‘Upon the whole it was an excellent journey & very thoroughly enjoyed by me … I never saw the country from the Hogsback so advantageously.’ Less illustriously, the entry continues: The Hog’s Back Cafe is in a layby on the Guildford to Farnham (westbound) carriageway of the A31 along the Hog’s Back. It is popular with lorry drivers, who use the cafe and toilets during the day, while doggers used the adjacent hillside until the police cracked down on the practice.’

‘It was one of those days’: Serena and Venus bow out at the French


Gracious in defeat, Serena smiles philosophically as she shakes hands with Garbine.

When I consider the shock second round defeats of both Williams sisters at Roland Garros on Wednesday, I can’t help thinking there’s more going on than meets the eye.

Serena has made valiant efforts to court the French. I can imagine she might have expected to succeed by virtue of her relentlessly sunny disposition and force of personality alone. However, the Gauls seemed to demand more and Serena proved up for the challenge, setting up a home in Paris and learning the language. But, despite applying herself so diligently to the task, it seems she still can’t win them over.

She fell spectacularly out of favour with them way back in 2003 and, it has to be said, through no fault of her own.

It’s hard to access watchable video of the controversial ‘hand’ event that occurred during her semi-final match with eventual champion Justine Henin-Hardenne back then. It’s also hard to believe that this incident is still dogging the younger Williams sister today.[1]

A less than friendly handshake between Serena and Justine.

Serena and Justine: a less than friendly handshake.

Serena, it seems to me, was in the right and her outrage completely justified. Not only did the Belgian cause her to serve a fault but she then denied she’d done so. Yet the crowd turned on the American, subjecting her to booing and jeering, so much so that she failed to win another game.

Yet Serena was prepared to put this behind her; and has tried hard, and with a generous spirit, to rationalise the continuing animosity of the French. I recall in previous years that the spectators’ unremitting antipathy reduced her to tears in a masterfully definitive disenchantment of a blithe spirit.

So it almost ruined my whole tournament to witness how shabbily the crowd treated this great athlete (and reigning champion at the French) in her first match against Alize Lim, cheering her double faults and errors but declining to applaud even her most impressive winning shots. Is it any surprise she looked downhearted despite her 6-2 6-1 victory? It must be soul-destroying to walk out on court to face this deep an enmity.

Why was the world number one relegated to the second court, Suzanne Lenglen, which plays more slowly than Chatrier and is less suited to her style?[2]

I couldn’t help but contrast this with the reaction to Maria Sharapova, who annihilated her first-round victim Ksenia Pervak 6-1 6-2. The crowd had no problem applauding Maria’s winners and aces so it wasn’t just a case of rooting for the underdog.

They were fairer to Venus but I know, being close to my own sister, that that probably only made her feel worse for Serena. She looked depressed, lacklustre and out of sorts as she lost to 19-year-old Anna Schmiedlova 2-6 6-3 6-4.

Venus looked out of sorts as she crashed out of this Grand Slam.

Venus looked out of sorts as she crashed out.

I watched Serena’s second round match against Garbine Muguruza with a growing sense of despondency. The commentator said at one point that the American hadn’t hit top gear yet. Truthfully, she hadn’t even shifted out of park. She hadn’t disengaged the handbrake. You know, I’m not even sure if the key was in the ignition.[3]

Mother Oracene looked as resigned as her daughters did lethargic. The only time the top seed brightened up was when she shook hands and congratulated her Spanish conquistadora at the end, relieved that it was all over. Who would have dreamt that she would lose 6-2 6-2 to an unknown 20-year-old?

Commentary from the ITV team has also been less than positive, critical of Venus for warming up in a puffa jacket, implying this was an attempt to intimidate her opponent. When Serena berated herself for losing points, this was deemed disrespectful to her adversary.

No one expressed the slightest regret that Serena should lose in such an ignominious and uncharacteristic fashion. Indeed, the commentators seemed to find it difficult to conceal their glee at both upsets.

Everything the Williams do is interpreted in a negative way, even the fact that they are still competing and hungry to win when they surely have enough euros by now. No one questions why Roger Federer is still playing. No wonder the girls’ hearts sometimes just aren’t in it.

It could be that there’s some adverse family circumstance like illness (they’ve had their fair share of that already, with Venus’s Sjögren’s syndrome and Serena’s pulmonary embolism) that is affecting both girls but I pray that this isn’t the case. Richard Williams was noticeably absent from these early round encounters.

I don’t want to take anything away from their young opponents’ French Open victories but these were more than just unpredictable defeats. Now that the red dust has settled on the damp clay of the Williams’ continental Grand Slam, we can only speculate as to the reasons behind their unheralded early departure. But I would venture that the ennui they succumbed to was mental rather than physical in nature.

Whatever, I wouldn’t blame either sister if they never graced Paris with their presence again. I can only hope we treat them with more respect and appreciation at Wimbledon.

Serena post-defeat: ‘It was one of those days. You can’t be on every day.’


[1] For an account of the drama, see busted racquet’s blog.

[2] There’d been great indignation on behalf of Raphael Nadal when he was scheduled on there but no protest or question at all when it came to Serena.

[3] Later, they remarked, rather understatedly, that she ‘hasn’t been able to get her rhythm’. Man, she was not even on the dance floor, more like comatose in the ladies toilets. Bewildered by the hostility she encountered, this was not the Serena we usually see.

‘Seems like I don’t get to wear my bare feet at all’: Alejandro Rose-Garcia aka Shakey Graves, a poem in a white ribbed vest

arg2alejandro –

his solemn childlike

heart-shaped face,

unruly brows above

a placid and untroubled

expression, he’s a poem

in a white ribbed vest.


argandmikehe awkwardly holds

his own arms as if

feeling himself to

make sure he’s real

and still all there.

or as if just in need

of a little affection.


arg1nods and smiles

and ducks his head

to compliments that

summon up his shyness,

along with pinkness

to his cheeks, and leave

him uncertain where

to place his gaze.


argandguitaran innocence

spills out from him

like radiance

from the sun

behind a cloud

(or a light from under the door

of the room next door).


his cheeks rosy

and guileless

betray a slight unease.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

but his heart is open

like an outstretched

hand offered to

a lone horse

in a stranger’s



For more on Shakey’s music, see another bashful blog.

Timothy Olyphant vs Jeremy Renner: a match made in Modesto, California and played out for us on the big and small screens


The role of Raylan has won him acclaim but Tim still keeps a weather eye on that Jeremy Renner.

I remember seeing an interview with Timothy Olyphant a while back. I’m unable to locate it  now, unfortunately, but let me know if you find it. Any Tim appearance is an undeniably entertaining prospect – he’s happy to riff on anything from stealing stuff from movie sets to wondering why his kids consistently fail to recognise how cool he is.

But in this one, he was talking about his mother and her attitude to his success. It quickly transpired that, never mind about the unappreciative offspring, he may not be all that as far as Mom’s concerned either.

It sounds like he is destined to come forever second in her estimation to ‘that Jeremy Renner’, as Tim’s mum is wont to refer to the other well-known actor from the Justified star’s hometown of Modesto, in California.


Modesto, CA: water, wealth, contentment, health.

As in ‘That Jeremy Renner’s in another movie’; ‘That Jeremy Renner film won an award’; ‘That Jeremy Renner’s been nominated for an Oscar’. I can imagine Tim biting his knuckles each time his maternal parent comments on TJR’s latest triumph.

Some mothers have an infuriating tendency to notice a neighbour’s kid and eulogise their every deed while their own progeny seethe in repressed resentment and envy. Whatever they do, they are doomed to fall short in comparison to the paragon down the road or from the same school. An unspoken rivalry develops, of which the much-lauded kid is blissfully ignorant.

My mum used to rave about the kids two houses down till we got heartily sick of hearing how much better, cuter, blonder,[1] more accomplished, etc. than us they were. And it looks like Tim has his work cut out trying to match the achievements of ‘that Jeremy Renner’.


Renner in a relaxed mode, probably not even aware they hail from the same town.

The two actors attended the same school, Fred C. Beyer High, though Tim has a couple of years on Jeremy. I know who I think is ageing better, however.

Jeremy Lee Renner was born in Modesto and went on to junior college in the town. While Timothy David Olyphant was born in Honolulu and studied Fine Art at the University of Southern California. I’m thinking that’s a more prestigious institution than Modesto Junior College. So score one to Tim.

Tim swam competitively at USC after making the final of the National Championships in the 200m Individual Medley in 1986. But both Modesto boys also took theatre and acting electives at college, prompting a change of direction.

It would be interesting to know if Jeremy is similarly dogged by Tim’s successes – if someone in his family constantly holds these up against his own to see how he measures up.

Talking about measuring up, Tim at 6’ is a couple of inches taller than Jeremy, at least. Score two to Timothy.

But although Facebook Olyphandom seems to increase by about 10,000 every day despite minimal posting, he’s still lagging behind the Rennster, whose following is growing at a similarly impressive rate. Score one to Jeremy.

Timothy is yet to headline a major dramatic movie although he has starred in perfectly creditable thrillers such as A Perfect Getaway and Hitman and horrors like The Crazies. Jeremy, however, began in a similar vein with parts in stuff like 28 Weeks Later but was soon feted for his role in The Hurt Locker, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination and many other Best Actor awards.

Awards, schmawards, I hear Olyphacionados[2] cry. And I’d be the first to agree that awards don’t always go to the most deserving. Must look good on your résumé though. So score two to Jeremy Lee. (Plus he took his mother to the Oscars when he was nominated. Imagine how that went down with Ma Olyphant.)

Tim’s plaudited stint as Marshal Raylan Givens in Justified is set to end with this final season without any Emmy (although he was once nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series). Although fun (and at times definitely sexy) to watch the cowboy-hatted one’s shambolic progress in his Kentucky of Oxycontin dealers, old frenemies and luckless whores, I don’t think the part stretched Tim’s acting chops all that much. But the trigger-happy lawman was at least a complex character replete with fallibilities galore, offset by charm and a fundamental honesty. And with he and nemesis Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) forever thrown into each other’s paths (and sometimes arms), the dynamic was at least always compelling (I look at such duelling bromantic relationships here).


Seriously? Not another asterisking nomination …

Oly’s previous TV work included the role of Seth Bullock in Deadwood,[3] parts in Damages, cameos in The Office, Sex and the City and more recently The Mindy Project.

It remains to be seen whether the Olyphantastic one will move back into film once released from Justified and what kind of parts he’ll get offered.

Renni has eschewed long-term TV series for film work in the main.[4] His last dramatic movie outing was in 2013’s obscenely successful American Hustle, which saw him in the illustrious company of such award darlings as Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper. Together the ensemble scooped the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The picture was nominated for Oscars in several categories but failed to pick any up.[5]

Other ventures in production and post-production are all action movie sequels, including an unnamed Bourne follow-up, a second Mission Impossible flick and another Avengers outing, all I’m sure gratifyingly lucrative but excuse me while I stifle a yawn.

I’m a great fan of Olyphant’s sense of humour, as explored in a previous blog. He’s a stimulating participant in any talk show roster and has joked about possibly hosting his own show. He certainly outwits the hosts when it comes to repartee. I also like the fact that he always seems to drink whatever’s provided for him.[6]

Jezza can seem a little earnest in comparison, even nobly taking on the mantle of a United Nations Goodwill Peace Ambassador to promote mine-clearing in Afghanistan. I can’t imagine him doing decidedly average Robert Wagner impressions, which Timothy can oblige you with at a moment’s notice. And which Bonnie Hunt characterised as Tim sounding like William Shatner doing Robert Wagner. To which Tim responds, ‘Listen, listen. I never said I was good at these things.’[7] I don’t know who to score one to here.

But actually, Renner is a good-natured guest, prepared to share tales of explosive diarrhoea on Ellen and how he planned on taking his ‘momma’ to the Oscars. ‘There was no choice. She endured me flying out of her uterus.’ He goes on to give make-up tips so he’s a pretty decent value talk show commodity too.

For promotion on I Am Number Four[8] Tim chats hilariously about the tall alien monsters, the Mogs. When called upon to describe them, he struggles, evidently not having paid that much attention: ‘Here’s what I recall. They were tall and fairly unattractive.’ He’s asked if they were on stilts. He has no idea but does remember: ‘By the way, those actors were pretty big already. … And you know what, they may have been unattractive to start with as well. … I was like, put a couple of lines on that guy …’ and the interviewer concludes the thought for him ‘He’s good to go, right?’

I can imagine that when Tim refers to ‘that Jeremy Renner’, he might mentally add an adjective between ‘that’ and the other actor’s name, as in ‘not that [expletive bleeped out] Jeremy Renner’. I know I would be tempted to.

Renner has kept in touch with his roots, perhaps something that Tim’s mother may  also appreciate about him. In 2010, Modesto Junior College presented him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He also headlined at a benefit for a Modesto arts centre. Score another for Jeremy.

The Rennersance man also enjoys renovating and restoring dilapidated Hollywood properties. But he’s down to earth in other ways too, as demonstrated by his reaction to being encased in a bomb suit in brain-boiling heat for the aforementioned Hurt Locker:

I was like: ‘Get this thing off me!’ I wanted to punch people. You could not pay me enough money to do it again.


Tim in a cute hat and not much else.

Tim similarly got close to losing his rag in a scene from A Perfect Getaway, having been assured that a fall wouldn’t hurt him.

There’s that shot – it’s in the trailer, I think – when I jump off – looks like I’m jumping off a cliff with a knife. So I’m like rigged on this cable …  it’s like fifteen feet – they’ll stop you three feet before you hit the ground. Guess what happened? I just jumped fifteen feet and went and hit the ground.  … Holy crap! I hit … [We might have a commercial but this is a good story, I’m in it now] … I sat there and everybody comes running and I did like this and said ‘Just back the fuck up’ [sorry, we’ll edit that out] and I’m a tough guy …my eyes started to water. Oh my gosh. And then I was like, ‘You know what, I’m fine. Check the gate.’

Renner, known for the intensity he invests in his characters, can also be roused to rage when his privacy is invaded.

renner in scarf

Jeremy looking totally hetero and macho.

How about I go peek in your window, take what underwear you wore last night, whose husband you were fucking, and shove that in the megaphone throughout your neighborhood? How does that feel? It’s none of your goddamn business.[9]

And he turned on some joker in a bar one Christmas although it sounds like the guy had it coming, having open-mindedly called Jeremy ‘a fag’ because he was wearing a scarf.

Then he shoved my sister and I got behind him and I choked him out – put him to sleep. I’m not violent.

Anyway, these guys are at the peak of their powers and careers – I can’t wait to see what they are going to do next. Well, except I think I’ll give the action sequels a miss, Jeremy. I don’t suppose anyone is really keeping score. Except perhaps Timothy’s mum.

[1] And how come blond is associated with angels? The media always describe any fair-haired missing child as a ‘blond, blue-eyed angel’. Like dark-haired, dark-eyed and dark-skinned kids can’t be angelic and somehow deserve to go missing.

[2] Okay, maybe that’s stretching the words made up out of Timbo’s name a tad too far.

[3] Not even the presence of Olyphant could induce me to watch Ian McShane swearing in a ridiculously over-the-top manner for an hour or so.

[4] He was a regular character in The Unusuals but I’m unable to comment on that, having never heard of it.

[5] I know one person who probably didn’t shed too many tears about that.

[6] Generally in a mug, I always wonder exactly what this beverage is – just coffee/tea or something with a kick?

[7] See interview here.

[8] How in this world does someone of Tim’s attractiveness and talents wind up playing second fiddle to slab-faced Alex Pettyfer?

[9] You know what? I think I’ll avoid delving into Jeremy’s personal life as I’m already facing a libel suit from another blog subject. It sounds like Jez might just have this badger put down.

‘I can’t believe it’s happening’: but a Kinks reunion is ‘as close as it’s ever been’, according to all sources and indeed both horses’ mouths


‘And always by your brother’s side’: Mick says they’ll have to knock their heads together.

A Kinks reunion is ‘as close as it’s ever been to happening’. That’s from the mouth of Ray Davies in a recent interview. Maybe I was unduly pessimistic about the prospects in my last blog post on the subject. Perhaps 2014 is the year it could come to pass, with everyone prepared to patch up their differences for the fiftieth anniversary of their breakthrough in 1964.[1]

For it looks like the rumour mill has ratcheted up another notch and all parties sound increasingly positive about the possibility of reuniting.

Of course the main bugbear threatening the enticing proposition is the rather intense version of sibling rivalry between brothers Ray and Dave Davies, which at times seems to border on the homicidal. Ray is rumoured to have once stabbed his younger brother in the chest with a fork for stealing one of his chips in a restaurant, after all.[2]

Ray in a documentary avowed that he would do anything to help Dave but would never let him know that fact in case he took advantage. The German Boy by Patricia Wastvedt explores a similarly conflictual sibling relationship between sisters Elizabeth and Karen: ‘She [Elizabeth] would fight anyone to save Karen from being hurt and in the same moment could want to punch her.’[3]


‘So take a drive with me’: will Ray be behind the wheel?

And Dave knows that Ray loves him and believes his brother to be a compassionate soul, whose compassion simply doesn’t extend to him. While I can imagine Dave’s more impulsive responses and wilder behaviours, together with his tendency to attack his brother in interview, are a source of constant infuriation for Ray. In a quote from the same book:

They have never said they love each other in all their lives, and what they are to each other is so embedded that Elizabeth can’t feel it, any more than she can feel her own bones and blood. … The edginess between them tips one way into closeness and the other into fury.

First Kinks bassist Pete Quaife, who sadly succumbed to kidney failure in 2010, offers some insights into the potential difficulties in a 1998 interview.[4] When asked if Ray encouraged original material from him or Dave, he retorts:

Are you kidding? I would have been squashed with a size 16 boot if I had have even suggested they listen to a new idea from me! Ray wanted complete control of everything. He was a control freak. As for Dave, well, I think Ray felt obligated to listen to his ideas a little more because he was blood. But Ray sure as hell didn’t encourage it from Dave either.


‘Hold my hand, it’s gonna be all right’: Dave may need some assurances.

And he believed Dave was unnecessarily insecure about his songwriting capabilities, especially compared to Ray. He didn’t need to emulate his brother – they would always have completely divergent approaches to their craft, Dave’s being more instinctual and natural. Pete’s of the opinion that Dave ‘felt he would never be as good a musician as Ray was. That’s funny, considering he was always a much better guitar player than Ray.’[5]

Pete often acted as a peacekeeper, trying to calm things down before fists started to fly, whether between Ray and Dave or between the latter and drummer Mick Avory. And, asked what he would change if they could do it all over, he wishes, ‘That we’d put all the altercations and abuse out the window’.

But the competition, friction and tension could also be in part what fuelled the creative energy of the band. The Kinks could never be bland and complacent because, at war with each other, they were also constantly fighting for their place in the music industry.

As Ray says at the beginning of this exhilarating performance of ‘I’m Not like Everybody Else’, memorably featured in a Sopranos episode:

I like this song very much. It kind of sums up everything that we’re about, The Kinks. Because everybody’s expecting us to do wonderful things and we mess it all up usually.[6]

Live versions of Kinks songs like this were often totally different animals from the studio tracks, mainly thanks to Dave’s virtuosity on his instrument. As Ray concedes,

There are certain bands that can thrash out chords but no one has that edge that Dave has. It’s totally self-taught and it’s brilliant.

The sheer indifference of a British music press who obviously considered the band redundant is confronted with good humour by Ray in ‘The Road’ in the couplet

 And still all the critics keep saying
’Are they still around? When they gonna stop?’

It’s true in many ways – it’s a wonder they lasted as long as they did, what with the infighting and the battle to survive and stay relevant, right up to 1996 in some form or another. Ray explains this longevity, insisting that he’s most at home within the confines of a group:

If I was left to my own devices … I think I would have really truly disappeared up part of my anatomy because I do think too much … I miss being in a band. I was in a band for so long, years and years, decades.


‘All of my friends were there’: Dave holds onto Pete and Ray leans on Mick in the original quartet.

Dave is currently playing regular gigs in the US with The Jigsaw Seen. But there’s evidently communication between the brothers about the potential for a reunion. Even Mick, who Dave at first didn’t want to be included, is now being called upon to comment,[7] so let’s hope the younger Davies has reconsidered his initial moratorium on the faithful sticksman.

Dave has said, ‘It’d be a great shame if we don’t try and do something.’ But what was the one thing that had to happen before the spiritually inclined sibling would consider a reunion? The thing that he couldn’t do, that someone else had to, presumably Ray, the thing that’s referred to at the end of the Do It Again film. Now film-maker Geoff Edgers knows what it is; Dave knows what it is; but does Ray know what it is? And does anyone else have the faintest idea? Very intriguing. Has it happened now? Or doesn’t it matter any more?

I reckon the success of this venture will largely depend on Ray relinquishing control and recognising Dave’s right to be a partner in all decisions. The balance of power has shifted somewhat and both guys are equally vital to the project. It will also require wholehearted commitment from all parties. As Dave says in Jon Savage’s official biography of the band, ‘I don’t really function at my best unless I can put my whole heart and soul into what I’m doing.’

I’d like to think they could be reconciled enough for something great to come out of negotiations, that they could be as mature and enlightened as the characters in the bittersweet ‘The Informer’:

Isn’t it strange meeting you here
Two old friends
Just sitting down quietly drinking a beer
But knowing your past the way that I do
After all this time I’m surprised
You’d even come to this rendezvous

And that their rendezvous results in something amazing for all The Kinks fans who’ve kept the faith for so many years.

[1] Their first two singles that year, ‘Long Tall Sally’ and ‘You Still Want Me’, were followed by ‘You Really Got Me’, which hit number one. And let’s remember what Dave said about that first smash: ‘It’s not about wining and dining or middle class behaviour; it’s about ”I like you, I want to fuck you.” ’

[2] There could have been  extenuating circumstances here, of course. Like how good were the chips and how many did Ray have left?

[3] I’m sure many of us feel this way about our siblings much of the time.

[4] Full interview available at http://www.kindakinks.net/misc/quaife/.

[5] But Pete was always a Dave supporter, remembering that ‘Working with Dave was always a pleasure. He never tried to do it all himself, he always asked for advice from all of us.’

[6] And this amazing song was originally a B side. This version, with its electrifying guitar,  is on the live To the Bone album recorded at Konk.

[7] ‘We’d have to knock our heads together and rehearse if we meant to do it properly.’

Lyrics from kindakinks.

‘In a time when it’s all so confusing / We can win and it feels like losing’: but I doubt whether Timothy Schmit ever feels like losing


‘It’s amazing how it all worked out/I am living like a king’: Tim only sees bright sides.

It’s hard to believe some people find Timothy B. Schmit’s ‘rambling’ at his solo gigs annoying. I read a pretty negative review of one of his live shows on the Poconut[1] forum website but can’t find it again now.

If you want to hear someone really ramble, go see Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey Buckingham should by rights be togged up in a gilet and walking boots, with his trousers tucked securely into some sensible socks and a laminated map nestled next to the pac-a-mac in his pocket.


‘Thinking on the days of old’: Lindsey Buckingham just can’t say goodbye graciously.

Lindsey has a tendency to deliver self-aggrandising mini-lectures between numbers, which only really serve to prove that he has not let anything go or matured significantly over the years. Stevie Nicks was only once guilty of an overlong song introduction but at least it had a point. Other than to prove that she’d been right along, which was the gist of all of her bandmate’s diatribes. Honestly, why is he trying to justify Tusk now? As Don Henley might advise: ‘Get over it.’

But you put up with it for the music. They tell their stories better in song and, apart from the odd self-indulgence, the shows are amazing.

Some folks’ onstage patter almost rivals their musical ability. The late and so much more than great Jackie Leven was a supreme storyteller of often hilarious anecdotes. About a visit to a chip shop with no food in Bethesda, Wales. Or people at gigs in the Midlands able to dispense helpful advice on furthering his career, such as

Why don’t you get on Jools Holland’s programme? They have all sorts of crap on there. You should be able to get on there.[2]


‘You might love me for what I’ve sung’: always and forever, Jackie.


Why don’t you make a single with Shania Twain? Some of your stuff’s just like hers.[3]

Jackie was truly one of a kind. He could as easily have been a comedian as a singer-songwriter. I guess it calls for the same observational skills to some degree but the Scotsman was uncannily adept at gleaning the most humour and absurdity from his everyday experiences.

Now back to that Schmit fellow. Here he is introducing a Poco song called ‘What Am I Gonna Do’ at a solo concert in Sacramento in 2009. I find his talking voice so listenable and appealing that I have to admit some bias. But I reckon this is a charming set-up of just the right length. He paints a picture of the past in a few simple words, leading you into the song smoothly, but with a better idea of its age, history and significance.

This next song was written by my good friend and mentor Richie Furay … Richie came, for those of you who don’t know, came from the Buffalo Springfield and then he got me into the band that was to be Poco

[I learnt] a lot about singing, about the whole scene. I first went on the road, went to New York City for the first time, with Richie and the band.

This song was originally written for the From the Inside album, in the early 70s, and he wanted me to sing it. But we went on the road before we recorded it and he, during that period of time, he actually, he was prophetic, because he actually started living the scenario of this song and I had reluctantly said you gotta sing this on the album. And he agreed.

And I was pretty sad in some ways. I really wanted to do it. So. Now I can do it.

I like the album version but this may be even better. And he tells jokes. What’s not to like?

Described by Glenn Frey as ‘a total sweetheart’, on Twitter TBS is relentlessly upbeat and positive, downplaying his throat cancer as a ‘setback’. Everything is ‘fun’, ‘all is good’, ‘well’. He’s ‘excited’ and ‘busy’, rather than terrified and exhausted.

He says of the cancer:

Although my issues were disheartening, and I went through what the doctors called, ‘major surgery’, the truth is I was only bedridden during my three night stay in the hospital. I was up and about right after, starting with daily walks on the streets of Manhattan. After another week I received a clean bill of health and headed for home on the west coast. My voice is coming along nicely … So … All is good.


‘A dream of how good it all can be’: Tim thought it ‘a great fit for everybody’.

Much as he’s presented in Jason Hare’s hilariously realised scenario in Mellow Gold Theatre, Timothy’s a look on the bright side person. After all, as he confesses in ‘Secular Praise,

I don’t know
Why some have less and some have more
All my sorrow could all fit in a bedroom drawer.

Mellow Gold envisions Don (‘Mr Don Henley’ as he insists on being addressed) as laconic, gruff, materialistic, demanding and cosseted, attended by a bevy of naked Korean girls. Glenn appears as an overgrown schoolyard bully delighted to be confronted with his favourite prey, the perfect victim and Tim suffers his assaults with a nervous mixture of terror and delight, dubbing Glenn ‘playful’ as he’s tackled to the floor. Joe Walsh is unconscious somewhere under the sofa.

Don, referring to the inflated price of Eagles tickets, points out that fans at a gig oughta stay in their seats the whole time because ‘Every time you turn your head away from the stage, you’ve wasted approximately 27 dollars.’

He reminds the blithely optimistic Tim of the torture involved in making the last album:

How Azoff had to ply us with $100 bills in a trail from our houses to the studio?’ to which Tim responds, ‘I didn’t get any $100 bills. He just had his assistant call me and say, “Be there at 8 AM.” And you guys didn’t show up until 2.[4]

The spoof is of course a comic visualisation of how such a scene could play out, exaggerated greatly for maximum humorous effect but it wouldn’t work if we couldn’t all imagine Timothy behaving somewhat similarly to this and hear him uttering those lines in his instantly recognisable dulcet tones. And it does fit in with what we know of his personality.

tim with poco

‘I don’t know why fortune smiles on some/And lets the rest go free’: Poco never achieved the massive mainstream success they deserved while the Eagles went stratospheric.

I don’t think Tim would sell himself short, however. He knows his value to the band. When he was invited to join them with no need for any kind of audition, he recollects:

I thought it was a great fit for everybody. I had no hesitation about that. It was perfect for me, obviously, and I was thrilled. I was actually getting a little disenchanted with the whole Poco thing around that time. I thought: This is so great for me, and I thought: It’s a good fit for them, too. And then “they” became “we”.

Main picture from Eagles fan forum, the Border.

Here’s a blog post comparing the Eagles and Poco.

[1] That is such a cool fan name, Poconut. See the forum here.

[2] I have to agree that a lot of the stuff on Later with …  is rubbish. But perhaps that wasn’t the best way to sell the recommendation.

[3] It’s really not.

‘A little less conversation, a little more action please …’: country music star Christian Kane rocks out at the Jazz Cafe in Camden


‘Aint you been listening?’: there’s an 11 pm curfew and then I’m outta here.

If he’d spent a little less time bemoaning the alleged 11 pm curfew, Christian Kane might have had time to sing a few more songs for the loyal army of fans who turned out to see him in Camden in November.

Might also have helped if he’d come on stage a tad earlier in the evening than 10. I’m just saying …

Why exactly did we need three warm-up acts? Even though the first was on stage by 8.15 or so, by the time the main attraction hit the stage, the crowd weren’t just warmed up; most of them were totally hammered. And some, I have to say, a bit scary and aggressive.

I happened to read my horoscope in the free paper on the train on the way up. It had counselled against confrontations and involving myself in battles I couldn’t win so I refrained from sticking up for myself when the going got tough. This restraint meant I had to put up with being elbowed in the throat by someone who felt the need to constantly fluff up her hair (she did have nice hair, I have to say) and then toss it a few times (each time nearly knocking out my contact lenses), to make sure the fluffing up had worked before refluffing just in case it hadn’t. All this she accomplished while back and forth to the bar for more drinks and participating in a conversation consisting mostly of asterisking expletives with her gang of friends. I’m forever taking evasive action while not daring to look at her any way that might be interpreted as wrong as I can just see myself headbutted, floored and trampled underfoot.

stewart mac

‘Well I know they say all goods things/Must come to some kinda ending’: Mac may have played more songs than headliner Kane.

The Jazz Cafe is packed out and it’s pretty hard to find a spot where you can even glimpse the stage if you happen to be on the diminutive side and not anxious to start a commotion. In our previous place we’d been continually buffeted by folk trying to get past but maybe that was the lesser of two evils.

The crowd is super-excitable and ultra-responsive. This I expected – Kane fans are not called Kaniacs for nothing. But they detain the third support, Stewart Mac (with Dean Roberts), for an encore. He’s not bad and I enjoyed hearing more but I’m painfully aware that, the more we see of him, the less we’re going to see of Christian.[1] Do the math, guys.

But another good thing about the Kaniacs is that they’ve just about captured the whole concert for posterity. They considerately want to share their experience with fans who couldn’t be there. A little less considerately, you might be able to hear more of them than Christian on the resultant clips.

When CK finally takes the stage, curls of long hair escaping from under a grey-brown hat, sporting a shirt that looked kind of indigo in the stage lights over a lighter-coloured long-sleeved T, sleeves of both rolled up, blue jeans with trainers and a big macho leather wristlet plus some kind of medallion round his neck, no one can deny he’s a sight for sore eyes. And his late arrival has successfully built anticipation to a fever pitch.

He seems like a genuine, genial guy but the country rocker spent an inordinate amount of time chatting, goofing around with and hugging buddy and guitarist Hank (Henri O’Connor), thanking the venue for having him, saying what a great venue it was, thanking us for coming out, telling us how he much he likes being in London, failing to retune his guitar, losing his pick and fucking up the beginnings of verses and suchlike (fine, funny, adorable if you’ve all the time in the world which, as he kept reiterating, we didn’t).


‘And you need a place you can let it go’: the Jazz Cafe.

In fact he reminds us of the time constraint every few minutes, declaring, a little less than sincerely, I suspect, his willingness to play all night if it weren’t for the curfew. I’m getting a little incensed by the procrastination and the protests too much, if you know what I mean. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s more of a self-imposed deadline than anything set in concrete. And, in fact the single encore included, he stops at 10.55, so depriving us of a possible further five minutes.

Some of these fans appear so devoted that they just might whoop, cheer and applaud if Christian decided not to play any music at all. And the actor/musician seems to appreciate and acknowledge their dedication and maybe on this occasion take advantage of it a little.

Time gripes aside, what we did hear was awesome, from breezy opener ‘Happy Man’ to thoughtful, self-analytical encore ‘Dusty Rose’: ‘A little dirty, a little rough around the edges …  And no tellin’ how many times/You cut your hands holdin’ me’.

He was in fine voice and high spirits and more than ably accompanied by O’Connor, with whom he enjoys an obvious onstage chemistry. In the YouTube clips the women singing or shouting along (in various versions of off key) sound like they are practically drowning the singer out but this isn’t that apparent on the night, thankfully. I realise this must be gratifying to an artist and is indeed encouraged (‘If you know it, please sing along’) but, let’s be real, audience participation is all fine and dandy but we’re not really shelling out to hear somebody next to us bellow out their renditions of our favourites.  His voice is ever so slightly better than theirs, after all.[2]

We were promised a couple of new songs, one of which, ‘Sever’, was delivered. Co-written with Hank (‘This is a song that me and him wrote’), it made quite an impression – one of those moody laments chronicling a foundering relationship (‘Don’t ya know the sky aint fallin’, don’t ya/Don’t ya know if it was I’d catch it for ya?/Don’t ya know if I was gonna leave, by now I would have done so long ago’). Covers included ‘The One I Love’ (‘Somebody else [David Gray] wrote this but it’s one of my favourite songs in the world’) and ‘Jolene’. Enjoyed terrific versions of ‘Thinking of You’ and ‘Let Me Go’[3] as well as crowd-pleasing roustabouts ‘Whiskey in Mind’ (during which Christian admits ‘By the way, I fucked up, he didn’t fuck up’ of Hank, who’d only just learnt the song) and ‘The House Rules’. But we kind of lost the momentum of ‘Different Kind of Knight’ when they kept dicking around before the last verse. Yeah, it was sort of charming that he doesn’t take himself too seriously but, once again, made me acutely conscious that time wasted was time off the performance.


‘Sit on the floor/And lock the door/Dancin’ with a bottle’: ‘Track 29’ from the live CD.

It’s an indication of the extent of his back catalogue that he didn’t play a single track featured on the Live in London acoustic CD from 2004 that we bought at the gig, any of which I would also love to have heard.

I know you’re meant to leave your audience wanting more. But the fine-looking blue-eyed sex kitten just didn’t give us quite enough – a mere ten songs – and I thought he was bound to play ‘Rattlesnake Smile’. He only played one encore but he’d drilled the so-called deadline into everybody’s heads so much that I think most of the audience had resigned themselves to the inevitable and considered their time well and truly up.

[1] At the Grant Hart gig in The Miller the week before, a number of  support acts similarly delayed the advent of the headliner till about 10. He played nearly 20 songs nevertheless and continued till at least 11.30.

[2] I can imagine Kane would call me a ‘motherfucker’ for daring to criticise the singalongers. He abused a punter who pleaded for quiet at one point, responding: ‘Shut the fuck up, man! Absolutely don’t be fucking quiet!’ I don’t think he appreciates the exquisite agony of having someone tone deaf screaming in your ear all the way through a concert. It’s not something I’d recommend anyone try, especially when you’re desperate to hear someone perform live. But I think he truly revels and thrives in the interactive atmosphere of his gigs.

[3] During which the whooping between verses gets a little out of control, breaking up the song and a little voice from the crowd says ‘Sorry’ to which the singer replies reassuringly, ‘Don’t apologise at all for that –  that’s awesome.’ I get it – instant feedback is good.

‘Where did your long hair go?’: thankfully not something we need ever wistfully wonder when we look at Timothy B. Schmit


‘A white boy from Sacramento’: Timothy B. Schmit with Travis Tritt and assorted Eagles.

What tickles me about the video for Travis Tritt’s rendition of ‘Take It Easy’, apart from the fact that it’s not a patch on the original version, is that the usually verging on the girlish Timothy B. Schmit looks the most macho in it.

The rest of them resemble a passel of maiden aunts next to Tim, with his cool facial hair, who narrows his eyes in a boy you wouldn’t take home to mom way and even manages a particularly manly shake of the mane at one point.[1] I’ve always been a sucker for a sexy hair toss and it has to be said that no one has hair more fitted to the task.

He strides forth like a gunslinger swaggering out of a saloon whereas the others amble along like a bunch of old buddies thinking about going fishing.

We know from The History of the Eagles documentary film that at this point, finding himself back with the boys and everything going swimmingly, Timothy B. was thinking to himself, ‘Come on, guys!’ in an endearingly plaintive way, wondering how they couldn’t recognise how right it was to be playing together again.

Having graduated from the freebie t-shirts and dungarees of his unpretentious youth in Poco and early Eagles days, Timothy’s sartorial style as a mature artist had betrayed a penchant for teaming polychromatic shirts of a Hawaiian bent with contrasting jazzy waistcoats in colour clashes of epic proportions.

But here he eschews all that flashy malarkey, keeps it simple and simply rocks. In a red flannel shirt, sleeves rolled up to reveal his forearms, over a black t-shirt and plentiful masculine wrist jewellery, TBS is the only one I’d bother lining up against a wall.[2] But I’d volunteer for that duty whatever the hell he was wearing.

This longhaired desperado looks just the type you might encounter playing pool in a bar in the middle of a weekday in somewhere like Winslow, Arizona. I’ve stood on that corner and had some kind of pickup pull to a halt for the driver to ask if I knew the way to the probation office. Ever feel like you’re in a film? Even if it is a trashy afternoon made-for-TV movie, the kind you give up on halfway through.

So I’m assuming Travis Tritt is younger than the Eagles (yeah, by about fifteen years) but here he looks like someone’s slightly pudgy uncle in a billowing blouson trying to act a bit tougher than he is and fit in with the old hands.

This song was recorded for a 1993 thirteen-track tribute album, celebrating the band’s music,[3] with a portion of the profits going to the Walden Woods Project, founded by Don Henley in 1990.

For his interpretation of the Eagles classic, Tritt requested that the 1980 line-up of the country rock legends (Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit) feature in the video. By some miracle engineered by the gods of music (possibly after a gentle nudge from Irving Azoff), they agreed. And the rest, as they say, is history.[4]

Photo half-inched from timothybschmitonline.com.

For first blog on Timothy and Eagles, see here.

[1] Thank whatever gods may be that, when we look at TBS, we don’t need to wonder wistfully, ‘Where did your long hair go?’, a lyric from ‘Caroline, No’, a Brian Wilson song covered by Tim.

[2] No, actually, I could definitely be persuaded to give Don Henley a thorough pat down too.

[3] The album hit the number one spot on the Country Billboard chart.

[4] But, if you don’t know, by the next year, hell done got froze over, the band reformed and toured. Amen to that. And thanks be to Travis Tritt.

‘There’s no way we can agree’: rumours of a Kinks reunion unravel


‘Together we can find a way’: Kinks lineup featuring John Dalton, John Gosling and Mick Avory.

Why do the Davies brothers do this to Kinks fans?

Periodically, they raise our hopes, then stomp all over them in their vicious Cuban heels.

Ray and Dave Davies have reportedly been in talks about a possible reunion to mark The Kinks’ 50th anniversary. Hallelujah, we cry, but also cautiously elect not to hold our breath.

Just as they seem to be edging toward something like rapprochement, Dave will throw a spanner in the works and Ray will counter that with a wrench. And the 50/50 odds bandied about in the press start to look slimmer by the second.

For one minute Dave is behind the proposal, fanning its flames into a virtual bonfire of expectation, the next he’s pouring cold water all over it and stamping on the embers.

In a positive frame of mind, blossoming in a healthy new relationship with writer Rebecca Wilson, playing gigs on a quite regular basis on the US east coast, Dave reports of his meetings with Ray:

We talked about the old days and maybe doing something next year. I thought to myself, ‘Oh shit, maybe we could do something before we fall down dead.’


‘Yet we’d heard it all before’: one minute Dave’s all ears, the next he doesn’t want to hear it.

This is the first time I’ve known Dave even lend the possibility the least consideration. It seemed to take Ray by surprise too.

But, guess what, things quickly soured when they had their last cup of tea before Dave’s return stateside. Describing his sibling as ‘negative, grumpy and just mean’, Dave interpreted Ray’s changed mood as disapproval of his trip, saying ‘I feel like he was miserable because I’m happy. He’s a really troubled man.’ And went on to recall times when Ray was ‘fucking horrible’ to him in the past. Maybe so but now’s not the time to dredge all that up again.

Many of us believed that Dave’s new relationship would rejuvenate him and rebuild his confidence, along with the American tour. But his sensitivity to Ray’s (real or imagined) criticism sets him immediately back on the defensive.

The younger Davies also underlines the fact that he doesn’t want any other ex-Kinks to be involved. Why not?

Of original drummer Mick Avory, he states bluntly, ‘I hope we don’t bring him back’ before going on to claim:

I love him, but it’s water under the bridge. [1] We need new people. Sometimes when you’re with the same old people, you get the same old thing.

Um, it’s not a reunion if it’s just Ray and Dave and a bunch of other guys.[2] There are plenty of other ex-Kinks out there, still playing the material. Mick is an original member, for goodness sake.

We not only have the much maligned Mick, but his replacement Bob Henrit, John Dalton, John Gosling, Ian Gibbons, Jim Rodford, all fine musicians with a great track record of involvement in The Kinks.


‘We’re all tryin’ to get along’: Bernie Leadon had finally had enough.

And surely, the point about a reunion is that you do get the old people back together and at least play some of the same old thing?

The Eagles have understood this, even drafting in original member Bernie Leadon for their latest ‘farewell’ tour, History of the Eagles. Bernie had made his early departure after pouring a beer over Glenn Frey’s head (probably long overdue if you ask me). Randy Meisner was invited too. Okay, Don Felder has yet to make a reappearance this time around. But he was included in the 1994 Hell Freezes Over tour.

The Davies brothers would also look to be at odds regarding new material. Ray is insisting that any reunion should involve new music: ‘As long as there’s something new to go forward with rather than stay in the past, I’m interested.’ But on the subject of making an album together, Dave demurs: ‘I can’t face the concept of days and days in the studio with Ray. I just can’t do it.’ Surely some compromise can be reached?

Ray has taken a gracious path and declined to retaliate, saying Dave’s

a great player. Whenever I write a song, I think of how it could be improved by having him on it, and what his power chords would bring to it. […] I don’t know what next year will bring. Let’s see if he’s polite to me the next time we meet.

Mmm, maybe it would take more than hell freezing over to reunite this amazing band. The brothers are so diametrically opposed to each other that it’s like they’re in different planetary orbits.

mick and ray

‘You’re a lot like me, that’s why I’m still your friend’: friendship that lasted the course.

A year or so back, any kind of reunion appeared to be out of the question, a remote possibility, a distant dream, with Dave dismissing it out of hand while Ray has always been more open to the idea, once admitting:

I’m still ­waiting hopefully for the phone call to go back on the road and tour with The Kinks. I tour now, I’ve got a good band who I’ve been with for a few years. But I still carry The Kinks in my mind and Mick Avory is a very good friend of mine. I never say never because suddenly these things will happen.

Sadly, before original bassist Pete Quaife died, The Kinks had been planning to record together again. He’d said:

Ray, Dave, Mick and I are going into Konk Studios this fall. We’re doing a CD of new material. Just the four of us. Just like old times. There’ll be a fight. I can almost guarantee it.

I think the lyrics of the song ‘Hatred’ probably reflect the real current situation as much as any press report.

You and me accept reality
There’s no way we can agree
The world can’t make us alter this position
At least you and I know where we stand
We can’t be friends, walk hand in hand
My hostility for you defies description

Hate’s the only thing we have in common
There’s no escape, we’ll always be this way
So we might as well just learn to live together
‘Cause we’re gonna be this way till our dying day

If you keep on putting me down
Rub my name into the ground
I’ll drag the dirt all over town about you

The reunion didn’t come up at the Purcell Room on the South Bank, where we witnessed Ray in rather awkward conversation with John Wilson, pretty close to Waterloo Bridge and not that long after sunset. Maybe Ray wasn’t that comfortable because on the wrong side of the river but I have the feeling the whole promotional aspect of the situation rendered him a bit sheepish.

Publicising Americana, his latest book, which delves into his relationship with the US and its denizens, necessitates events like this and book signings galore (the queue afterwards was pretty lengthy but very ordered and patient) but I wouldn’t think it’s Ray’s favourite activity.

I attended this rather than a normal book signing because I hoped to hear the promised excerpts from the text. But we only got one, an extremely short one at that, so I was left unresolved as to whether to buy a copy or not.[3]

you really shot me

‘Don’t wanna get myself shot down’: Ray ended up getting shot down as a 21st century man.

Along with an interview, we were also treated to a homemade video of some of Ray’s US travels as a solo performer, starting with a 2000 tour beset with transport problems after September 11th and covering his time in New Orleans before and after being shot.[4]

He also touched on the band’s six-year ban from the US, quoting Mick Avory’s pithy rationalisation as to its probable causes , ‘a combination of bad management, bad luck and bad behaviour’.

Ray also responded to some questions from the spectators, who were invited to scribble these out in advance for submission.

Returning to the question of a reunion, though, I guess I can forgive Dave his misgivings. Whereas Ray has maintained friendly relations with his old bandmates, Dave has been somewhat isolated and estranged. No doubt he expects that, if disagreements arise, the others’ loyalty will lie with Ray, which has led to friction in the past.

Testing the barometer of other fans in attendance, it would seem that few hold out any hope that The Kinks will ever reform.

But let’s leave the last words to Dave:

I really do want to do something with Ray before we both decay and decompose. I said to Ray last week, ‘We don’t have much time left.’

Some quotes from Rolling Stone, NME, Uncut and the Daily Star.

For all things Kink on bashful blog so far see https://bashfulbadgersblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/everything-kink-on-bashful-blogs/.

[1] ‘Water under the bridge’ generally equates to letting bygones be bygones.

[2] Though both have been playing regularly with the accomplished backing of other bands like The Jigsaw Seen , Bill Shanley and The 88.

[3] It was on sale for the jacket price of £18.99. It was £15.19 with free delivery from the Waterstones site, £12.72 on Amazon. The cheapskate in me won out and I didn’t make the purchase.

[4] Dave is currently soliciting crowd funding for a similar film project, The Rock’n’Roll Journey, documenting his own experiences on the road. For details see http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dave-davies-rock-n-roll-journey-film.