Thursday, May 4, 2017

Certain Songs #868: The Kinks – “God’s Children” | Medialoper

Album: Percy Soundtrack
Year: 1971

Wait! What is the Percy Soundtrack? That’s a very good question. As Ray Davies had come off of three successful concept albums in a row, the producers of the film Percy thought it would be cool to have Ray write a bunch of songs for the soundtrack of their comedy about the first successful penis transplant.

And in case you’re wondering: this wasn’t a fly-by-night indie film. This was a relatively big production starring people like Denholm Elliott, Elke Sommer and Britt Ekland and was the 8th-highest grossing film in the U.K. that year. Even better, it was based upon a novel by Robyn Hitchcock’s father, Raymond.

And while I’m seeing Robyn Hitchcock in concert tonight for the first time since 1994, I’ve never seen the film Percy — perhaps some of my more cinephile friends like Tim, Joe or Ira have — but I’m slightly sad to report that the soundtrack album is the weakest album The Kinks had made to date.

My guess is that Ray’s heart really wasn’t in it, as the one towering moment on the recording, the utterly lovely anthem “God’s Children,” is actually a rant against the technology that would enable a penis transplant in the first place.

Man made the buildings that reach for the sky
And man made the motorcar and learned how to fly
But he didn’t make the flowers
And he didn’t make the trees
And he didn’t make you and he didn’t make me
And he got no right to turn us into machines

That opening verse is set against a slowly building bed of piano, acoustic guitar and slowly-building drums. And as the full band comes up — with Dave right there on the harmonies, “God’s Children” soars expertly towards the home of the very deity Ray is claiming as his parent.

He’s got no right at all
Cause we are all God’s children
And he got no right to change us
Oh, we gotta go back
To the way the good Lord made us all

That chorus, man. Whether or not you agree or disagree with the sentiments of that chorus — and it wasn’t the first nor would it be the last time Ray rails against the modern world — the melody is irresistible, and the way it builds towards and floats out of the stop-time part on the last line is as well-done as anything the Kinks ever did.

And luckily, you don’t have to buy Percy to hear “God’s Children,” as it’s also featured on the Kinks Kronikles, which is where you should seek it out.

Fan-made video for “God’s Children”

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