Observations: Ray Davies' ode to icons of London
Friday 11 December 2009
"Some people seem to think my new single "Postcard From London" is a Christmas song. It wasn't meant to be one, although it does mention snow. I'm looking ahead to when I have grandchildren and they ask me: 'London – what is this place?' I feel the culture of the London I used to know is disappearing. That's something I explore in Olympicland, and I'm hoping to get that project finished for a run at the Theatre Royal in Stratford before the Olympics get underway. I just hope the community around Stratford can afford to live there when the Games are over. We don't want a repeat of the ethnic cleansing that went on in Beijing.
The single is the first song Chrissie Hynde and I have released together. She wasn't my first choice – I wanted Dame Vera Lynn, because the song has the sort of melody that she would handle rather well. Having said that, Chrissie came into the studio and did her bit brilliantly. I wasn't there at the time, and of course our relationship history [Hynde and Davies have a daughter, Natalie Ray Hynde, now 26] adds yet another texture to the song. But it wasn't recorded around a log fire or anything. We weren't toasting marshmallows and cracking nuts. My girlfriend Karen sang on the demo and, with Chrissie, it was quite clear what the vocal parts were. Some artists are happy to let the writer direct things. There was no real discussion, which surprised me. The places and things that I mention in the song – Waterloo Bridge, Carnaby Street, the Charlie Chaplin statue in Leicester Square – are icons or symbols of the London that I think is under threat.
Hopefully they will remain, but if the buildings around them are all different, will they still have the same impact? Carnaby Street means a lot to me because The Kinks' office was round the back of there in Kingly Court. We were there every day.
'Postcard From London' is out now on UMTV. Ray Davies tours to 19 December (www.raydavies.info)
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