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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2006/02/17
by Mike Gruenberg

Ray Davies

In My Life
The experts tell us that in the course of a persons working lifetime, they can expect to experience 3 4 different careers and 5 6 different jobs in that span of time. Heres how these statistics may play out. For example, if the first job you get is writing for jambands you can expect to stay at that position for only a couple of years. Although you will like the job, the dream of doing something more exciting is always in the back of your mind.
One day, while interviewing an up and coming band, you realize that the drummer for that band is your long lost cousin from Hartford. After the interview, your cousin convinces the band that they need new management and orchestrates a maneuver that allows you to take control of the bands affairs (your second career). You will have many great ideas and everyone will be excited to put you in control. Sadly, after three years on the job, you were unable to get the band a record deal. Sensing that the future of the band was in flux, your cousin decides to leave the band to marry his high school sweetheart and move to an Indian reservation in North Dakota. Without his support and the lack of a record deal, you are thrown out of the band management business. So after three years of diligent and unsuccessful work with the band, you are back on the street. But there is hope, you will land a job as a graphic artist (third career) for a company that designs the artwork on music CDs. This job is very satisfying and lasts another five years until the owner of the company decides to employ his son instead of you. Once again, you are out on the street and so it goes..Maybe theres an opening at Starbucks. Youve had more than your share of lattes; you can easily learn how to create them (perhaps you fourth career?).
Our parents and grandparents worked in an environment where they stayed employed at one company for many years. Upon retirement, their expectation was that the company would provide a pension from their employer as a reward for the many years of unselfish labor. Unfortunately, times have changed. One only has to read the news to be horrified by corporate thieves who steal pensions from unsuspecting workers by committing illegal stock fraud which effectively makes them rich and bankrupts the company. In our parents day, the collapse of Enron was unthinkable. Workers today whose very lives depend on pensions that they contributed to during the course of their working time are now nervous that those benefits have eroded due to the mismanagement by the very people that they trusted.
Times are tough and to survive the many pitfalls along the way, the successful person needs to learn the art of reinvention. These are people who are able to take the loss of one job and apply certain aspects of that job to a new skill set which will make them employable somewhere else. There is an art to reinventing oneself, but it is a valuable skill that will allow a person to adapt gracefully to the new environment of their new employer.
My favorite example of a person who seemingly has reinvented himself is depicted in a recent television commercial for an investment firm. They show a picture of Paul McCartney and say he was a Beatle, he was a Wing, he was a father, a husband, a poet, a painter an entrepreneur, etc. True and yet McCartney has truly reinvented himself over the years. His early success with the Beatles certainly helped him to navigate the murky waters of his post Beatles career, but he too has adapted to new environments and was able to reinvent himself by presenting different types of music and thrive.
When the British Invasion of the 60s was in full bloom, each week the record buying public in the U.S. waited for the next U.K. based band to come to our shores. Although I was a devout Beatles and Stones fan, I was always impressed with the work of the Kinks. The band was formed by Ray Davies and his brother Dave Davies in the early 60s. The Kinks were not as slick as the Beatles. They were not a scruffy as the Stones, but they had a certain edginess that was unmistakable. I saw them in concert and was taken by the clever lyrics and melodies created by front man, Ray Davies. Quite frankly, I went to see them because I had heard that the Davies brothers always argued amongst themselves and the group and carried those arguments to the stage and that on any given night, it was a good possibility that a fight would break out on stage with the band. As a matter of fact, a year prior to my seeing them, they had a disagreement on stage which resulted in the Davies brothers falling into the drum set causing the drummer to have a number of stitches to close the wound on his head as the cymbals came crashing down upon his head moments before the Davies brothers also landed on top of him. Curiously though, the show continued and the drummer returned to finish the concert.
The band had a chemistry all its own. They were working class lads singing about the trials and tribulations of the common man. Their albums were well produced with a minimum of glitzy background filler. But most of all they had an edge to them which translated into a concert or record that held the audience captive. Their early albums which were clearly produced on a limited budget exemplify a group that has used all their skills efficiently. (See discography below) The fact that the brothers and their band mates could overcome their argumentative style to make great music made them even more magical to watch and hear.
After numerous label changes and personnel changes, the group finally broke up in 1996. In 1998, Ray released an album called Storyteller. It was a brilliant album which chronicled his and the groups life in words and song. He related how he and his brother Dave began playing music in his parents house sharing a rather small guitar amp. He speaks about his life in Art School, the early management of the Kinks and many more stories that are a pleasure to learn about. Ray uses his charm and story telling ability to present a very appealing album. Now at age 61, Ray Davies is back with the first solo album of his long and varied career. It is called Other Peoples Lives. He began recording the album four years ago. In that time, he moved to New Orleans, got shot in that city by a mugger, but all in all managed to complete this album without any help from any of the Kinks alumni.
From the man who wrote such songs as You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset, All Day and All of The Night, Sunny Afternoon, Dedicated Follower of Fashion , Victoria and Lola this new album weaves those same melodic memories into a beautiful new album that he recorded by himself. Davies has learned the art of reinvention. He has called upon his inner strength, incredible talent and survival to bring us this new offering. With this new album, it looks like another person has learned the art of reinvention and survival.

Kinks Album Discography The Kinks (first album) Kinda Kinks Kontroversy Face To Face Live At Kelvin Hall Something Else Village Green Preservation Society Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire) Lola vs. Powerman And The Moneygoround Percy (soundtrack) Muswell Hillbillies Everybody’s In Show-Biz Preservation Act I Preservation Act II Soap Opera Schoolboys In Disgrace Sleepwalker Misfits Low Budget One For The Road Give The People What They Want State Of Confusion Word Of Mouth Think Visual The Road UK Jive Phobia To The Bone (UK) To The Bone (US) BBC Sessions 1964 – 1977

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