You’ve come a long way… (c)

Saturday, 3rd May 2014 – the day I saw Sunny Afternoon for the first time. Saturday, 13th May 2017 – the day I’m seeing it for the last time. It’s been three years, a lot has changed since my first visit, one thing has always been true – my love for this show.

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It’s been such an incredible journey for all involved, I laughed and cried more than I care to admit, I’ve met some amazing people who have become my close friends, whether I wanted it or not, and I’ve spent a lot of time listening to my favourite band’s songs very loud. I realise that I may sound overly melodramatic, but Sunny Afternoon did change my life. I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking in the interval that it was pretty good – the rest is history. I never got to see The Kinks as I’m too young and live in the wrong country, so the show is probably the closest I’ll ever get to being at their live gig, although it’s not the only and not even the main reason I love it so much.

Sunny Afternoon is a unique production in the world of jukebox musicals (I hate this term, more than I should, but it’s easier to explain what I’m trying to say here): I have seen a number of those over the years, and while some were more or less enjoyable and others I wish I’d never even bothered with, I was never really engaged enough to want to return immediately, if at all. Obviously, the main reason is the music – in a way, Sir Ray’s been writing Sunny Afternoon since he started writing songs, so it does seem to uninitiated that some of the songs were written specially for the show. But then we have a story, and this is where you need someone like Joe Penhall to step in. He’s a Kinks fan, to begin with, so he knows his stuff. But then he’s also an award-winning playwright, which helps when you set out to write a book for a show. And then we have producers, who are willing to get it all off the ground, good director, who’s happy to put it in his theatre, and a great cast. Sunny Afternoon has been incredibly lucky with its creative team and I can never thank them enough for putting together something like this. Underrated is another term that I hate, but after decades of being slightly overshadowed by other bands, The Kinks beat them all to it and gained a new generation of fans while reminding the others of how good they actually were.

To me Sunny Afternoon became a life-changer almost at once, even though I realised it in hindsight. Because, you know, when you change your flights so that you could come to London a few hours earlier and try and get a ticket to a sold-out performance, it must mean something. I should’ve guessed I was in trouble 3 years ago… Before I knew it, the show became my life, taking over pretty much everything – and I really don’t care how it sounds. I think I needed something like this to shake things up. These past 3 years and 10 days have been the happiest of my life. I fell in love with the show and its original cast, and there was no way back for me. All the way from the first workshop, via Hampstead, West End run, Olivier Awards triumph, absolutely fabulous day at OnBlackheath festival, lots and lots of fun to cast change. And even now, the time I spent with them is the most special. If not for the original cast and their sheer brilliance I might’ve enjoyed the show, but I don’t know if I’d fallen for it so hard. They quickly won me over and became my most favourite people in the world. I survived cast change and moved on, but to this day I miss them a lot and can never be too happy to see them in their new productions or just when I bump into them elsewhere. (It’s not launching myself at people that’s difficult, but I’ve managed so far.)

I’ve seen all 3 casts a lot of times and I am grateful to them for being there, for bringing back this music and story and introducing or reintroducing people to that little band called The Kinks. I never got to see the tour as many times I’d seen both London casts, but they’ve been around a little less and I still managed to catch quite a few shows. My initial reluctance to even try and see the touring production was overthrown in July last year, the day they announced the cast. All my tour planning resembled a small military operation and it all paid off. From day one with them I knew I’d love them a lot. It’s such a joy to see this company on stage and I’m devastated that now it’s time to say goodbye to them. I’ll see them in their future productions as much as I can, but, again, it’s this feeling of a family you get when you see them all together on the same stage. I will miss this.

I’m grateful to the original cast for being absolutely the best and making me fall in love with the show, to the second cast for keeping it alive for yet another year in London, to the touring company for being a pretty damn good reason to travel stupid distances to see them all over the country. I’m grateful to the show for introducing me to some of my now closest friends without whom these years would’ve been very different and a lot less fun. Sunny Afternoon has pretty much been my life for 3 years: 4 shows at the Hampstead Theatre, 118 at the Harold Pinter Theatre, 54 on tour, – what on earth I’m going to do now that it’s gone, I have absolutely no idea. There’re other shows, of course, and I’m looking forward to being able to see them without having to sacrifice my Sunny visits, but I’m not looking forward to having a huge Sunny Afternoon shaped gap in my life. I’ll have to learn to live without it again. It was easy before, but it’s going to be hard now that I’ve lived with this show for so long and planned everything around it for years. I am beginning to sound melodramatic again, but I’m just not sure what it’s going to be like waking up in the morning and not seeing tweets about last night’s performance…

Dear Sunny Afternoon, we had to say goodbye to you in London, but we still had the tour. Now it’s goodbye for the foreseeable future and I don’t know if or when we’re going to meet again and in what form. Just come back at some point, will you? You’ll be sorely missed and welcomed back with open arms. You’re one of a kind and shows like that don’t come along every day. Please remember that. I will see you again, I’m sure of it. For all we know, we might still have a way to go…

 

“What we had was unprecedented and unrepeated…”

Thirty months ago today I went to the Hampstead Theatre to see Sunny Afternoon for the first time. I had no idea what to expect and I definitely couldn’t imagine that it was to become one of the most important parts of my life. Last week, after just over two years in the West End, we said goodbye for now to this wonderful little show that means the world to me.

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Sunny Afternoon West End closing night
Credit: Harold Pinter Theatre

As a matter of fact, Saturday was one of the best days ever. Sad as it was, we had a proper reunion with some of the people I’d met through our passion for Sunny, it was good to have most of my now close friends together. It was also lovely to see and catch up with some of the original cast. If not for them and their brilliance I doubt I would’ve gotten so attached to the show in the first place. But the main focus was on those on stage, naturally. We had a bit of a warning from Gabriel regarding the matinee and were curious to see what tricks he had up his sleeve and we were not disappointed. However, we somehow forgot about Chris… I mean, he’s always been the one responsible for silliness and hilarity, and so many times I was worried I might die of laughter and hold him responsible for that, but on Saturday he took it on a completely different level. Knowing when to watch him (“Larry has a lot of contacts, he’s tremendously well connected…” etc), we must’ve confused some people with our laughter. Having said that, first prize goes to Niamh and Alice who conspired and gave Danny the spoons instead of the usual washboard to play in Dead End Street. The look on Danny’s face and his attempts to play the new instrument were priceless. ‘Rasa’ slapping ‘Ray’ when he told her he couldn’t get married because he was about to go on tour deserves a special mention!

After the matinee Jess cheerfully noted that it was only going to get worse from then on. Debbie, Helen and I were at our favourite table BB in the evening, which probably didn’t help matters. We warned Helen she might get drowned as we were on either side of her. I’m actually surprised because I was doing really well up until Rock’n’Roll Fantasy, it didn’t feel like the world was ending or anything, I was just trying to avoid thinking it was the last time I was watching my favourite show in that theatre with that cast. But then the last part of the show came… Rock’n’Roll Fantasy, Days, A Long Way from Home – this combination is bad enough on normal occasions, trying to stop sobbing and look up was unbearably difficult on Saturday. Only mild consolation was the fact that most of the cast were tearing up and by the end of Waterloo Sunset I wanted to offer some of them my tissues. Finale is supposed to lift you up and it did, but it was the third time I was crying during the bloody Lola – I’m not particularly fond of that song, but not to that extent, you know. Afterwards, Ray came on stage and said a few words about the show and thanked everyone involved – we were especially pleased that our beloved Fabio, the best guitar tech there is, got a mention from the man himself – and we got a handful of plectrums from Fabio, I can actually make that necklace now. After the show we managed to say our goodbyes to most of the cast, it was nice to hear that our support was appreciated. I got to catch up with Joe Penhall and tell him everything I’d been meaning to say for ages – I can never thank him enough for all the work he’s put into the show, for getting it off the ground, for working closely with Ray and yet being passionate about the result of their collaboration, I owe Joe so much and I’m glad I was making sense and he didn’t just run away from me.

Sunny Afternoon has given me a lot. It introduced me to some of my now favourite actors from both casts, it’s been constant source of happiness on my trips to London over the last 2,5 years, and more often than not the reason for those trips. All the way from Hampstead, through an amazing two years at the Harold Pinter Theatre, winning 4 Olivier Awards, performing at West End Live, OnBlackheath, Royal Albert Hall and Wembley – it’s been one hell of a ride and it’s given me so many happy memories for years to come. Initially, I was going to the show on my own or with some of my old Kinks friends, but thanks to Sunny Afternoon I now have a bunch of new friends who, I hope, will stay in my life: Sandie and her love for purple boas and fedoras, Debbie and her neverending support and enthusiasm, creator of our wonderful fan page Jess and her love for Bowie, my TeamRyan buddy and touring partner in crime Helen, Ceri and her creative spirit, our beautiful Queen of Emojis Kate, and Sarah who, despite joining our ranks a bit later, quickly became a good friend. Thank you for all the giggles and company at the show and other events, I’m glad we met.

Sad and devastated as I am now, I still have the tour and I love them a lot already, so this is not the end, even though London won’t be the same without Sunny Afternoon. It’s not sunk in properly yet, it’ll probably hit me when I least expect it, but I know for sure that I’ve had the best of times and will miss the show in Panton Street, at its London home. Please come back soon, we need you.

“And though you’re gone,
You’re with me every single day, believe me.”

Ray Davies Day: my favourite Kinks albums

It’s that time of the year again, the man I love the most and have loved the longest, Raymond Douglas Davies is turning… But does it really matter how old he is? Don’t think so, not to me anyway. He’ll always be the man who changed my life when I was a little girl and heard A Well Respected Man for the first time. I should’ve guessed back then the effect his music would have on me and my life, talk about being struck by lightning. I never got to see the Kinks, they’d played their last gig 2 years before I even heard of them, but I’ve seen Ray quite a few times and am looking forward to seeing him again in just over a month. But I’m getting carried away, I wanted to use the opportunity and write about my favourite Kinks albums. I love them all to bits, obviously, but there’s a few that really stand out. I picked 5, after some deliberation, and I’m going to talk about them. They’re in no particular order and I had to skip The Village Green Preservation Society, because everybody knows and loves that one, so that would be cheating.

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Even from my fellow Kinks fans I sometimes hear that the band had nothing to offer after Lola. Wrong. One of my most favourite albums, Phobia, was released in 1993. Oh yes, the Kinks were still recording and touring back then. It may not be their best release, but it definitely has a number of tracks that make this record truly enjoyable. My favourite is probably Surviving, it’s 6 minutes long but I somehow never notice it.

The other favourite from Phobia is Still Searching, the song that somehow helps me make peace with the rest of the world when nothing goes right.

When all my energy starts letting me down,
I get this feeling I’ll be still wandering ’round.

I couldn’t miss the next one. It’s Arthur. It’s Ray Davies at his best and finest. It’s the album that everyone should have because it’s just that good. How many 25-year-olds can write something even remotely close to this?

Released in 1977, Sleepwalker was a huge turning point for the band. They’d recorded and performed a number of rock operas in the early to mid-seventies, and, having moved record labels, were getting back to something that was more or less familiar to a casual fan. I sometimes just put it on repeat and listen to it for days on end, there’s not a single bad or weak song, and the whole album just proves that it’s still that band that gave the world some of the best songs ever written. My favourite has always been Full Moon, and here’s Ray singing it in 2011.

Another 70s gem and their first RCA record is Muswell Hillbillies, country album with a load of North London references. Because why the hell not? And… Well, it can’t get more English than this.

And last but not least, my most favourite Kinks record at the moment, Schoolboys in Disgrace. Ray’s writing genius, his astonishingly clear voice on that one and Dave’s incredible guitar playing make this album one of those I can’t stop playing. I could easily post every single song from this record, but that would be cheating again, so let’s settle for the following two. The First Time We Fall in Love with its key and rhythm changes blew me away when I heard it for the first time.

Love can be exciting, it can be a bloody bore.
Love can be a pleasure or nothing but a chore.
Love can be like a dull routine,
It can run you around until you’re out of steam.
It can treat you well, it can treat you mean.

And then there’s No More Looking Back.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t share my most favourite song ever. No, it’s not Waterloo Sunset. It’s this one from 1978.

Happy birthday, Ray. Thank you for the days and plaaaaay the music!

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Sunny Oliviers

For years I’ve been going to various theatres in London and some other UK cities and rooting for my favourites during this or that awards ceremony afterwards, but I’ve been doing it from the comfort of my flat and with a help from my trusty laptop. Never in my life was I this nervous and excited, and I’m now suprised when I see my Sunday pics that I even managed a smile or two before it all started.

oliviers

When this year’s Oliviers nominees were announced and Sunny Afternoon was nominated in 5 categories (‘Best New Musical’, ‘Best Sound Design’, ‘Outstanding Achievement in Music’, ‘Best Actor in a Musical’ and ‘Best Supporting Actor in a Musical’), I got pretty dizzy trying to figure out how I could make it to London to be there on the day. Why? Well, my most favourite show, its cast and creatives were nominated. How could I possibly miss that? Long story short, on my mum’s birthday, failing to even pretend I had any kind of remorse, I was off to London to see Sunny Afternoon again and again before the big day. It’s still amazing how much I enjoy the show, even after seeing it 30 times, I laugh and cry as much, if not more, as I did last May when I saw it for the first time. I’m always happy to be there and I can never get tired of it. It’s been a while since my long-ish review, but nothing’s really changed, I just love them even more.

Sunday turned out to be warm and sunny, we were secretly hoping it was a good sign for this little show and everyone involved. We met up with some of my Sunny friends an hour or so before the red carpet, trying to calm down, but it wouldn’t really work. We were already happy that our favourite boys had been nominated, but fingers, toes and everything else were crossed anyway. It was a bit weird and surreal, walking down the red carpet and all that. I’m glad I was with some of my Sunny friends, they helped make the evening even more special. We missed the boys on the red carpet but managed to bump into them before the ceremony anyway (well, they bumped into us, to be precise) and wished them best of luck.

dressWe knew that the cast were going to perform during the ceremony, and yet we got all excited and rather emotional when we saw Adam Sopp’s drum kit. Despite sitting at the very back of the Royal Opera House we had a very good view, so knew we’d enjoy the event anyway. For some reason, ITV decided to edit the performance, so there’s part of ‘Lola’ missing, but it was there on the Sunday.

First half of the ceremony brought some news re our first category – ‘Best Sound Design’. Matt McKenzie didn’t win, but we still had 4 to go, and those were the big ones. After the interval, we were desperately trying to brace ourselves. I, for one, thought I’d managed it. Our next category was ‘Autograph Sound Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music’, Ray Davies was nominated, and I was almost 100% certain he’d get it. Because who else? Others may be great and I’m not trying to undermine their work, but, let’s face it, it’s Ray Davies we’re talking about, the man who wrote this. And yet, and yet… I don’t know how Debbie, Jess and Sandie could hold it together, I was in floods and almost missed Ray’s speech trying to stop my hands from shaking.

George’s category, ‘Best Supporting Actor in a Musical’ was next. I was determined to stay as calm and composed as I could, but I failed. This is probably the most extraordinary feeling: you’re sitting there, clutching to your seat and thinking ‘pleasepleasepleeeeeeeeease’, hoping that you’ll hear the name you want to hear. Our little group went wild when we heard: “And the winner is… George Maguire!” It’s good I didn’t forget to bring some tissues because we clearly needed them.

Up next was ‘Best Actor in a Musical’. I know I’m biased, but I desperately wanted John Dagleish to win this one. I mean, we were thinking that it would be a real shame if he didn’t get it after George’s award. My memories of that night may be coming back in assorted chunks, but I doubt I’ll ever forget what it was like waiting for the winner to be announced. I wanted to shut my eyes and ears, but I didn’t want to miss it, so I had to look. I couldn’t be happier for John, he deserves it more than anyone, and it was truly wonderful watching him accepting the award.

After that, it was only a matter of time for the show to grab the final award, but we knew it could be any other musical, we didn’t want to jinx it, so kept it to ourselves. But then Dame Angela Lansbury came on stage, said she enjoyed musicals and announced that Sunny Afternoon, this wonderful little show with the most amazing cast I have ever seen, was indeed Best New Musical! I can’t even begin to imagine how those involved must’ve felt, but I know for sure that we were over the moon.

24 hours later, having spent all that time happily crying on and off (more on than off, to be honest) I was standing outside the Harold Pinter Theatre trying to pull myself together to be able to say at least a few words to our favourite winners. I failed, as you can imagine, but I got to hold both George’s and John’s Oliviers and gave them my cards (I came prepared knowing I wouldn’t be able to talk).

with John

Congratulations once again to everyone involved and thanks for being the most amazing thing that ever happened to me!

P.S. ‘More Olivier Awards than any other show this year.’ Stick that on the poster! (c)

My favourite Kinks songs, part 3

Right… One more push but the problem is, I can’t really talk at lenght about any of these songs because they mean a lot and they’ve been the most important part of my Kinks/Ray playlist for years, but I’ll try.

Big Black Smoke

I came to London for the first time in 2006 when I was 19. I thought I’d just go there once and that would be it but that journey changed me. It was my first independent trip and it had to be the city I’d been dreaming to visit for almost 15 years. Now, I think, you get how persistent I can be when I’ve got my mind set on something. Of course, Big Black Smoke tell a different story but I can still relate to it in a way, London taught me many things, I never feel in a foreign country there, it’s my home away from home. And the song… Well, it’s just another great song about London, albeit not quite so romantic as Waterloo Sunset, but it’s Ray Davies we’re talking about, so what do you expect?

A Rock’n’Roll Fantasy

If you’ve seen Sunny Afternoon you’ll never be able to listen to this track without a lump in your throat, I can promise you that.

And when he feels the world is closing in
He turns his stereo way up high

Shangri la

You can’t do better than this.

Too Much on My Mind

It seems there’s more to life than just to live it.

No More Looking Back

Did I ever mention that Schoolboys in Disgrace is one of my most favourite albums ever? It was love at first sight (or chord, whatever) and it’s one of those records I’m happy to listen to non-stop: Ray’s voice and Dave’s guitar – what could be better? This song is… Well, just listen to it and you’ll know.

Sitting in My Hotel

If I could I’d post the Sunny Afternoon version of this song because it’s out of this world, because John Dagleish sings it like no one else, because, strange as it may seem, I like that version more than anything in the world right now. But the original’s pretty good too, honest! 🙂 It’s one of the songs I learnt to love, and, being from the same album as Celluloid Heroes, it’s sometimes overlooked but it stands out for me and I love it.

Still Searching

Here we go again. Phobia and all that. It’s my favourite song from the album. When all my energy starts letting me down, I get this feeling I’ll be still wondering ’round.

Storyteller

I promised I’d post my most favourite Ray’s song? Well, I’m good at keeping my promises.

Misfits

My most favourite song ever. Well, it’s been up there for a couple of years now but, by the looks of it, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. So take a good look around…

Better Things

Well, like I said last week in my first post on the subject, if I try to make another list in the future it may be completely different. This song is a perfect final chord in this case. I know that better things are on their way.

 

My favourite Kinks songs, part 2

I was going to post this last night but you won’t believe the week I’m having. Anyway, don’t think I’ve forgotten about it, I’m thinking of it more than you can imagine. 10 more songs that mean a lot to me, sometimes for reasons I can’t explain.

Tired of Waiting for You

The first song that I called my favourite. It’s still special and I still love it more than I can tell. The intro gives me goosebumps every time.

Life Goes On

A couple of years ago I spent several weeks listening to just this song on the loop. It’s not that I had rough times or anything but it somehow helped me pull through a difficult period and stay sane when I thought the whole world was against me. Right now, when things are pretty rough for many people I know, the song’s again becoming one of those things that remind me it’s not that bad and we’re stronger than we want to think. Somehow the people fight back, even the future looks black.

Moments

Now, let me tell you a story. 5 years ago I went to Scandinavia because Ray was playing there. His first gig was in Malmo and I was on my way to Stockholm then. I couldn’t get online to see the setlist and try and prepare myself, so I was in for a shock. Percy was a weird film, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone in their right mind, the music on the other hand… Anyway, there’s one song I’d always wanted and feared to hear. Be careful what you wish for. Ray’s gig in Stockholm was wonderful, it was a small venue and I was standing right in front of him, and I was really glad I could lean on that stage when he started playing this song. I’m going to post the video from that night. Ray completely messed up the words, but I didn’t mind at all, I was trying not to faint.

Autumn Almanac

Here’s an earworm for you. Ray always jokes that it’s a silly song about gardening but it was a big hit. It’s one of the catchiest songs ever, it’s funny, it’s beautiful, it’s everything you may want from a 3-minute track. And I just love this video. 🙂

Till Death Us Do Part

Back in the 60s and 70s, BBC produced a sitcom called Till Death Us Do Part, and in 1969 a film of the same title came out. The theme tune was composed by Ray and could be heard over the closing credits. I just love it, it’s so simple yet it resonates with me and never fails to make me feel better.

Surviving

Did I mention I love Phobia? Oh, I did. Of all the songs from that album, Surviving is the one the truly cuts me to the bone, sometimes, I even skip it when I listen to the album because I know it’ll be painful and it doesn’t matter how much I love it. But it is one of the best songs, one of those tracks I keep coming back to and sometimes play for days on end. It’s OK to feel this way about music, isn’t it?

Oklahoma USA

Aaah, this song. I remember listening to Muswell Hillbillies for the first time and trying to understand what it was all about and then this song started playing. I was 15 or so and I was unprepared for this. I mean, it’s one of my most favourite albums now, but when you’ve spent a few years only listening to the Kinks’ 60s stuff being unable to find anything beyond Lola in your hometown and then, out of the blue, you get all their albums, it may be a tiny bit confusing. This tune changed it all, and I fell in love with the record. After all this years the song still has that effect and I still forget how to breathe when I hear it. Should be careful, I know. 🙂

A Long Way from Home

I can go on about this song forever but I won’t do it any justice anyway. Just listen to it, or, if you can and if you haven’t seen it yet, go and see Sunny Afternoon at the Harold Pinter Theatre, you’ll know what I’m talking about, although it’s been among my favourites (and my other favourite from Lola) for years and years.

One More Time

I fell in love with this song when I first heard Working Man’s Cafe, it’s just beautiful.

In a Moment

My other favourite solo track from Ray. I’ll post my most favourite next time. 🙂

My favourite Kinks songs, part 1

Ahem… What’s your favourite song by the most important band in your life? If you ever want me to shut up for a couple of hours, you may as well ask me this question. I mean, will you be able to tell what your favourite time to breathe is? Anyway, a friend of mine has recently asked me to write about the songs that I like the most, luckily, he didn’t say I could only choose 10 or 15. First I made a list of all the songs I could think of, then I had to cut it down by at least 50, and then, with a gun to my head, I managed to only leave 30, and of those I’m going to talk. It doesn’t mean that I like other songs any less, mind you, it’s just that I don’t want to bore people to death. They’re in no particular order and they may be different next time I decide to do this (I won’t, it’s rather nerve-wrecking), and I thought I’d better make 3 posts, 10 songs per entry, or I’ll stay on youtube for the rest of my life, looking for better versions and the likes. You probably won’t find big hits here, but these are the tunes that mean the most to me and I could listen to them forever and a day. I also thought I’d add a couple of Ray’s solo tracks, just because I can and because I love Ray’s solo work. Shall we?

Waterloo Sunset

OK, this one simply has to be on this list. You can’t beat it, it’s the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard, it never fails to make me want to cry (and, as a certain musical has taught us, ‘if you’re not crying you’re probably deaf’). There’s no need to talk much about Waterloo Sunset, it speaks for itself. I remember once going home from work and feeling exhausted and under the weather, and then this song started playing in my earphones making me remember that there was something wonderful in the world, something that was with me all the time. Waterloo sunset’s fine…

A Well Respected Man

When I was 12 and wouldn’t listen to anything but the Beatles, my friend’s brother once gave me a record called ‘Well Respected Kinks’ saying something along the lines: “You love the Beatles, so you’re going to like this one as well.” I was suspicious but I thought I’d give it a go. Well, the record sounded nothing like the Beatles, but I fell in love from the very first song. Years later, I bought a copy of it and can now enjoy and relive those moments when everything was new to me. This song changed my life, no less. I don’t know what would’ve happen without it but I’m glad it found me then. I’d been studying English for a few years already but the Kinks made me interested in the language, in the country’s history and culture, opened many new doors for me, and it all happened because one summer day I heard this song.

Tell Me Now So I’ll Now

I don’t even know where to start. It’s one of those simple songs that gets you every time, and it’s of a very personal meaning to me right now, so I’m afraid I’m unable to talk about it at lenght but I do love this song more than I can tell.

Village Green Preservation Society

I keep saying that if they ever make a film about my life (what? you never know, I may become famous), this song should be the main theme. Its intro is one of the most uplifing tunes I’ve heard and, as someone who studied linguistics, I appreciate that Ray really has a way with words. I mean, his songs helped me graduate from uni all those years ago, and I had lots of fun working on my graduation paper because I had to listen to my favourite band on a daily basis and write how good a certain English songwriter is – I’ve been doing it for the past 16 years, so there was nothing new or difficult.

Strangers

I’m a fan of Ray’s, it’s not a secret to anyone who knows me. I’ve been all over Europe and even went to the States once, I’ve been to the strangest towns and venues because he was playing there, I prefer his songs to his brother’s but I would never deny that Dave could write wonderful songs. They may not be among my favourites but I like them and, in this case, love them. To me, it’s one of the finest examples of Dave’s talent and one of the best Kinks songs.

This Time Tomorrow

This song became one of my favourite the very instant I heard it for the first time. Now, thanks to a certain musical, it somehow regained its power and has become one of the tunes that always makes me feel better. Well, how can it not?

Full Moon

Sleepwalker has to be one of my most favourite albums. It’s amazing how after all those years the band was able to produce material of such quality. Full Moon has only become one of those special songs in the past 4-5 years. I did like it before, of course, but then Ray started adding it to his set-lists, and something clicked. First time I heard it live was in June, 2011 at the Royal Festival Hall. I still remember that my jaw dropped when he started playing it and it’s still one of the highlights of all his gigs I’ve seen. This live acoustic version was filmed a couple of days after that, and I’m going to cheat and post it instead of the original one. Because why the hell not?

This Strange Effect

You make my world seem right, you make my darkness bright… This is all I can say. If one day I go to a Ray’s gig and he plays this song, it’ll be the end of me, no matter how much I want him to play it one day. This feeling is love, and I know it. That’s why I feel good.

Scattered

Those people who say that the Kinks were at their best in the 60s have never heard Phobia. It’s one of my most favourite records, and I can listen to it all day and all of the night (sorry, couldn’t resist!). It’s very… complete, I think, is the word. I can’t name a single song I dislike and it makes it even harder to pick those I like the most but I can try. Scattered, despite being a rather sad song, somehow manages to be uplifting and makes many things much easier to accept. I don’t know how Ray does it, but he clearly knows what and how to say to make you feel this way. Strange video but I like it anyway.

Imaginary Man

I was always in your head
To raise your expectations
And always let it be said

I offered my very best to you
Gave you my dreams to aspire to
Involved you in all my crazy schemes
And took you to places you’d never seen

Stay tuned for part 2 in a couple of days. 🙂