Monday, April 10, 2017

Certain Songs #845: The Kinks – “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?” | Medialoper

Album: The Kink Kontroversy
Year: 1965

While it was still clearly a transitional album, 1965’s The Kink Kontroversy feels like it was the first time The Kinks stepped into the studio with the intent of making an album full of their own songs and their ideas.

I mean, it still started with the hoary old “Milk Cow Blues,” but once they got that out of the way, it was all Ray, with Dave making his songwriting debut as well. That said, Ray wasn’t quite there yet in terms of being an album artist — so the best songs on The Kink Kontroversy were also available on the “Till The End of The Day” single, which sported “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?” as the b-side.

In 1965, Ray Davies was 21 years old. So, on the face of it, a song like “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?” should have been a bit of a misfire. You’re only 21, dude! But, as sung in his persona of a man who is completely befuddled by his circumstances and not sure of how he got to where he was, or what to do next, it was instead incredibly affecting.

All my life I’ve never stopped to worry `bout a thing
Open up and shout it out, an’ never try to sing
Wondering if I’ve done it wrong
Will this depression last for long?

And with a build to the chorus, he lands a question that on the face of it, he shouldn’t have any right to ask, and yet by the time the chorus is over, you’re wondering too.

Won’t you tell me
Where have all the good times gone?
Where have all the good times gone?
Where have all the good times gone?

Part of what makes that chorus is affecting is the fact that its dominated by Dave’s slightly weedy harmony vocals. So it’s not just Ray asking the question, but his even younger brother, who is living the full-on rock star life at this point, which theoretically would be nothing but good times. Of course, Dave would have his own reckoning with his lifestyle soon enough.

Musically, “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?” is in the same ballpark as “Tired of Waiting For You,” with just a couple of chords turning over each other and over and over and over, never getting in the way of the words, the feeling that Ray wants to put across.

“Where Have All The Good Times Gone?”

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