The resentful Kinks song Ray Davies wrote about his brother

The relationship between brothers is comparable to the relationships of cats and dogs, but the rivalry increases tenfold when those brothers are in bands together. From Oasis’ Liam and Noel to Don and Phil of The Everly Brothers, sibling rivalry has often proved too severe to foster a harmonious artistic relationship. Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks were certainly no exception to this rule.

A truly iconic rock group of the 1960s, The Kinks were an unforgettable group. Blending blues rock with a modern rock and roll sound characterised by distorted guitars and adrenaline-fuelled tracks, they certainly made a name for themselves over the years. Of the band’s most recognisable pieces, many of them came from the mind of lead vocalist Ray Davies, whose brother Dave took up lead guitar responsibilities.

Penning some of the most well-known tracks of the swinging sixties, including ‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘All Day and All of the Night’, Ray repeatedly affirmed himself as a prolific and gifted songwriter. The later work of the band would also show Davies’ ability to adapt to different musical styles, abandoning the proto-punk of their early work for more considered, mature work on albums like Lola and Sleepwalker.

Despite the success of the group and the clear genius of Ray Davies, the songwriter soon reverted back to the sibling rivalry that illustrated his childhood. His younger brother, Dave, was often regarded as a more popular figure, earning a reputation as an outgoing party animal, while Ray was more introverted. This difference in personality caused many rifts and fights within the band, also providing the inspiration for various songs.

The most infamous example of the Davies’ sibling rivalry comes with the track ‘Two Sisters’. Released as the B-side to their legendary piece ‘Waterloo Sunset’, before being included on their fifth studio album Something Else, the song details Ray’s jealousy over his brother, with the genders of the pair swapped. The sisters on the track, Sybil and Priscilla, take on the roles of Dave and Ray.

Within the song, Priscilla is seen to be jealous of her sister Sybil, who is not plagued by the monotony of married life and is free to enjoy herself at will. This is an incredibly thinly-veiled retelling of the relationship between Ray and Dave, with the songwriter once revealing, “’Two Sisters’ is quite accurate, in the sense that one had all the freedoms – one brother stays in, and the other goes out and has fun. And one resents the other for the ability to do it. But in the end, look what I’ve got…”

So, despite the band’s career being noted for its constant in-fighting and sibling rivalry, it seems as though Ray can accept that the differences between the two made the band stronger as a whole. It is hardly the most harmonious family relationship in music, but it is far from being the worst (looking at you, Noel and Liam).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *