Dave Davies’ favourite song by The Kinks: “One of my favourite songs ever, by anybody”

Although The Kinks continue to receive their flowers, on the whole, the work of the Davies brothers remains vastly underrated. Together, they created a sonic fabric which laid the foundations for Britpop decades later, and their influences continue to be heard within the modern musical landscape today.

While the iconic group didn’t become a stadium-dwelling act like peers The Rolling Stones or The Who, that wasn’t down to their capabilities. Chaos followed The Kinks everywhere they went, halting their dreams of cracking the United States, and nothing was off-limits. However, in the studio, there was often magic in the air, which they tapped into to create moments of inexplainable brilliance.

In the early 1970s, The Kinks entered a new chapter of their career which was an unexpected but natural move simultaneously. As they progressed from being a traditional guitar band, Ray Davies’ songwriting expanded into new territories as he experimented with integrating theatrical aspects into his approach to music.

This method began to sneak into Ray’s work on 1972’s Everybody’s in Show-Biz, a live album recorded in the heart of New York City at Carnegie Hall. On the track ‘Celluloid Heroes’, The Kinks frontman paid tribute to the history of Hollywood and mentioned iconic figures, including Marilyn Monroe.

The inspiration for the song was the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, which is trampled on by countless people on a daily basis, despite supposedly being prestigious. He later said of the track: “It’s one of those songs that’s a very personal song. But it means something to everybody who’s been on that strip of, you know, Hollywood.”

Ray continued: “And I wrote it because the duality. You know, once success walks hand in hand with failure, and it’s a comment on the world I work in – show business, whatever you call it, entertainment, rock music – it does. I mean, you’re as good as your last record. You’re lucky if people remember the hits.”

For Ray’s brother Dave, ‘Celluloid Heroes’ was a moment of utter genius, which immediately rose to the top of the pile of his favourite songs by The Kinks. He explained to Guitar World: “One of my favourite songs ever, by anybody. I remember when we were just starting out down the road with tidying up the lyrics. That really filled me with a lot of emotion because it is quite an incredible idea anyway, all those [movie] stars, names and handprints being on those stars. There are all these great stars immortalized on pavement, in concrete.”

Dave continued: “Funny enough, I think one of my favourite versions of that song is a live version that’s not on the album, and it’s got a standard guitar solo at the front. Hopefully, we might put it out on a later release. I used my Martin mainly on that, and it’s simple. Keep it simple and effective.”

Despite the song being objectively magnificent, it was never a hit for The Kinks, partly due to its lengthy running time and because the band had fallen out of popularity at the time. However, while commercial success evaded ‘Celluloid Heroes’, the creation embodies Ray Davies’ magnetic mind.

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