God Save The Village Green
Only a few days ago it was 44 years since The Kinks published in 1968 The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. The album, believe it or not, was not a succesful record as it did not even get to appear in the UK charts and only sold around 100,000 copies. However, there is a time and a place for everything and the audience consider now this album one of the best (if not the best) the band has ever made and have tried to “understand” its commercial failure stating that the record was out of its time.
The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society is an album in which you will meet a society wanting to “preserve the old ways from being abused”; a childhood friend named Walter who now looks like a completely different person; picture books of days gone by; the last steam-powered train; a sky that is too big to sympathize: a farm with cats, dogs, pigs, goats …; a cat who loved to wallow all day; and lots of stories involving, principally, nostalgia, that have led people to consider this album one of the most “English” of history of music.
Ray Davies told the BBC in 2003 on the album: “I really don’t know why we were banned from America. We went there on our first tour and I think many Americans did see us as British invaders. I guess they hated us. So: “If we are going to ban anybody, why not ban these people… they are called The Kinks (problems or difficulties)? So we were stuck in England and I withdrew into Englishness. That’s when I wrote “Village Green Preservation Society.” I thought, “Well, if nobody’s goning to hear our record, at least make a record that our friends will listen to”. And so the entire album. “
The opening song (“The Village Green Preservation Society”) works as the anthem of the whole record. A song about the need to appreciate the old traditions as “new” does not always mean “better.” So, we can listen to Davies sing about such old or traditional elements as vaudeville, Donald Duck, strawberry jam and “all the differemt varieties”; or as British as Desperate Dan (from the comic The Dandy), Mrs. Mopp (froma the radio comedy show It’s That Man Again), Old Mother Riley (Music Hall), custard pie, the George Cross (British decoration), Sherlock Holmes or the old English billiards, which Ray Davies asks God to save.
I like Donald Duck, Desperate Dan and draft beer. Johnny Thunder lives on water, he doesn’t eat food, he feeds on lightning. Phenomenal Cat went to Singapore and Hong Kong and decided it was just well to get fat. I didn’t, he did. It was completely his own decision.
Ray Davies in a Rolling Stone interview, 1969
- The Kinks. (1968). The Kink Are The Village Green Preservation Society. Pye.
- Rolling Stone Magazine. (1969). The Kinks Ray Davies Talks. http://www.icce.rug.nl. Retrieved December 13, 2012, from http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/VOLUME04/MIRROR/Ray_Davies_Rolling_Stone.html
- Ray Davies: The World From My Window. (2003). Isis Productions.