The song The Kinks’ Ray Davies wants played at his funeral

It was the 1960s, and the world was in the midst of a very apparent cultural revolution. Then a group of local lads called The Kinks from Muswell Hill roared onto the scene; with a vivified sound, they heralded the coming of heavy metal, singing songs about… well, cricket, pleasant sunsets and quenching cuppas. With that unique composition, it was clear that Ray Davies and his cronies answered their own critics.

Those critics were not the cool kids trying to arbitrate culture, but rather his parents. “Unlike many other rockers, I always cared what my parents thought of my music,” Davies recalls. The revolution might have been one fuelled by the next generation, but Davies says, “I was writing songs for older people”.

Now, Davies is an older person, and he’s recently been reflecting on the music that makes up his life. When speaking to the Los Angeles Times about the track he wants to be played at his funeral, god forbid it should ever come, he opted for ‘Days’.

Fittingly, the song has an air of finality. Davies equates this to the tempestuous times that The Kinks found themselves in, but still, he found himself maturely reconciling the situation and looking at the glory days with gratitude. “Pop musicians aren’t meant to go on forever,” he said in 2004. “And around this time, whenever I finished a session, I thought maybe this is the last record I’d ever make. That’s why it has this strange emotion to it. Fortunately though the Kinks went on to make other records.”

And so, with humility, Davies sang, “I’m thinking of the days / I won’t forget a single day, believe me.” Given the circumstances, the song arrived seamlessly and then was doled out with the same air of ease, being dished out as a single. “The song has grown in intensity over the years,” Davies opines. “I didn’t think much about the song when I wrote it. Sometimes songs occur like that. You don’t think about it, but it’s built up quite a lot of mystique over the years. It certainly left me. It belongs to the world now.”

This sort of transcendence typifies the music of The Kinks. Now, over half a century later, it still sounds fresh, perhaps on account of its individualism. As Noel Gallagher said of their influence played forward: “The Kinks, like The Who, are one of those quintessentially great English singles bands but I’ve listened to this album so many times and I just fucking love it. It’s obviously such a big influence on Damon Albarn’s writing. You know the song ‘Big Sky’? ‘Big sky, too big to cry.’ You can almost hear someone shouting ‘Parklife!’ at the end of it, do you know what I mean?”

Thusly, it would seem that if funerals are all about legacy, then Davies picking one of his own is apt. Nevertheless, he wryly added: “But that’s only if I have to pick one of my songs. If not, I choose ‘SOS’ by ABBA.” Which is, ironically, a very similar song when you take away the stark differences in production.

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