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Saturday, 14 August 2010

You really got me

If it were the New Year I'd make a resolution. Not to watch BBC Four on a Friday night at 9:40 pm. For as sure as eggs is eggs there'll be music and the 60's all mashed up. And I'll start feeling nostalgic, melancholic and verby in a John Keats sort of way. 

This evening it was Ray Davies at Glastonbury.

Ray was born in Muswell Hill, North London. It's one of the hills that enclose London. Even now despite it being built up you get the sense of elevation climbing up from Crouch End. To the west is Highgate and further west Hampstead; the home of John Keats.

I'll not claim that Ray's lyrics are on a par with Keats; I'll let other make that comparison but it difficult not to believe that this north London word-smith has the spark of genius in him.

"Waterloo Sunset"doesn't have the lyricism of Wordsworth's " Composed on Westminster Bridge" but as an evocation of a time and place it is matchless. It is stripped down imagery stirring up memories and distant echoes.

Davies has been compared to Philip Larkin - a middle class voice charting a period of dramatic change. Rather like Shakespeare you might say.

"Days" I think is an achingly beautiful song. Don't take my word for it read the words. It has an added poignancy as it's associated with Kirsty MacColl.

For me it's appropriate that she should be associated with that song. In the early 80's she brought to life Billy Bragg's "Looking For a New England". It's not a great song but it links that same yearning for a lost past which is so much part of Ray Davies' genius. And of course Kirsty was on the streets of New York in that Fairy Tale, which is repeated each and every Christmas.

So no more BBC Four for me. It's soaps, talent shows and crime series  from now on. It's not good being disturbed by talent, or pricked by meaning. Let me walk dreamlike into another day.


G said...

BBC4 is what the whole BBC should be: cheap, utilitarian, enlightening, a public service, good for you. Nothing that competes directly with ITV gameshows or anything featuring Vernon Kaye.

When I first saw it I was amazed. Prior to that I was mostly a Channel 4 man - occasional gems in a sea of lurid.

Barry Coidan said...

BBC4 is to ITV as Ray Davies is to Girls Aloud.

However, I'll have no ill spoken of Vernon Kaye. He deserves a medal for being just standing there knowing that he's the butt of a million jokes.

Anonymous said...

Heh. The sex-texts 'scandal' was especially risible - I mean, presumably the guy can pluck groupies like berries but he chooses instead to write dirty words on a two-inch screen... I think that as his wife, I would feel less hurt but more disappointed...