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My Life and the Kinks

Part 2

My first Kinks concert was in September 1989 at Great Woods Amphitheatre in Foxboro, MA.  This is one of those outdoor shed-type venues with bad sound and set up with a total disconnect between performer and audience.  My brother and Chad Thurston came along for the gig, and we were probably the youngest people their without their parents.  The show was pretty solid, although the boys were playing a lot of their mid-late 80’s material which doesn’t necessarily hold up now.  One standout from that period, however, is the Dave Davies-penned and sung “Living on a Thin Line,” another track that played to my sensitivities, at least in the way I interpreted it. 

The following spring the Kinks played a northeast tour where I caught them in Albany, NY and Hanover, NH.  The latter show was remarkable in that a friend of mine whose parents ran a print shop had bootlegged tickets which we sold outside the gig.  Yeah, I know…bad me.  The boys were highlighting their respectable UK Jive album at the time.  Two incidents stand out with these shows.  First was that we spotted Ray Davies outside the venue in Albany before the gig.  My buddy Thomas yelled, “Hey- that’s Ray Davies!” and the bandleader glanced up with a paranoid look and quickly dove into a side door.  I was struck by how fragile he looked.  In one sense here was my hero rock star shrugging off some devoted fans, which upset me; but in another sense I was comforted in seeing his humanity.   This man whose music spoke to me during blue times truly was a little shaky himself, which made me feel okay.  The following week, outside the Hanover gig after the show, I was hanging out by the tour bus and spied the band milling about.  Working up the nerve to ask for an autograph, I approached Ray, and he obliged with a handshake.  I remember his hands to this day: bony and rough, with a weak grip.  The group quickly headed onto their bus after the encounter, but not before Dave handed me a just-opened Heineken.  I still have that bottle.

That summer I turned 16, got my license, and had the freedom to cruise about at my own schedule.  The Kinks were still with me then, but they began to move to the backseat, and rarely found a place in my car’s tape deck (remember, most of my Kinks collection was on vinyl).  I still carried my baggage of insecurities, but by now I was learning to numb it with liberal doses of beer and other such things.  The real party mode was setting in, and the Kinks introspective, odd, and even old-guy music wasn’t the proper soundtrack.  It was around this time that I cultivated slightly heavier or more contemporary tastes in music; Guns and Roses, Ramones, Clash, Georgia Satellites (whose final, underrated masterpiece album In the Land of Salvation and Sin sat in my tape deck for a solid month), Black Crowes, you get the picture.   I was also turned on by then to the alt/post-punk world by my buddy Thomas who had graduated and was heading off to college.  Now the Pixies, Dead Milkmen, Cure, Misfits, and U2 were in the rotation.  Ray, Dave, and company took even more of a backseat.  Amongst my newfound tunes I could still find some songs of introspection that filled the spot previously taken by “Misfits” and “Better Things.” Around this time the Kinks were winding down, too, and we drifted apart.  A couple of years later I didn’t bother to get their next release Phobia, still don’t have it.

In 1991 my friend Sara Wright was heading off to California.  Not long after she got there she sent me a mix tape that totally changed my musical tastes and offered a glimpse of the wave that was to wash over the music scene in a couple of months.  Nirvana, Primus, Fugazi, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Wartime, Jane’s Addiction and Pearl Jam were a few acts that she turned me onto, and I ate this new music up whole-heartedly. This was still pre-internet, and I never had MTV or cable, or even much for ‘alternative’ radio, so this mushrooming of a subculture I had found, even though I was really on the trailing edge, was exciting.  My brother by now was starting to discover new music and introduced me to less punk/alternative-oriented acts that were more in the alt-pop vein; Roky Erikson, Matthew Sweet, Television (self-titled 91 album), Leonard Cohen, Concrete Blonde, Big Star, and the Posies.  These new acts filled the pop hole in my soundtrack, and the Kinks slipped a little further.


By the time I was off to college I was in a different mindset than previous.  I had developed a solid appetite for partying and could easily numb any insecurities, even if I had to deal with the headache later.  I was in my first real relationship with a girl I met at a camp I worked at the summer after high school, so the insecurities towards finding a mate were gone, but replaced by a new sense of inadequacies as I struggled with sharing myself with someone.  The Kinks were in a lull, or at least in my mind they were.   My new music was more modern, if I wanted some rockin’ stuff it was Helmet, Ministry, Faith No More, Dinosaur Jr. My ‘alone,’ introspective music was played by Big Star, Concrete Blonde, Matthew Sweet, Velvet Underground, and Mazzy Star.  Actually I found that Sweet’s 1991 masterpiece Girlfriend was the perfect album for my love-life situation.  Side one had a great string of songs of inspiration for a new found love; if I was feeling down or doubtful, side two fit the bill where everything falls apart.  After I started at UVM I was feeling the more self-doubt and ended things with the girl and spent the next couple of years in a chemical haze, not really knowing that I was hiding from my insecurities. 

At one point in college the Kinks made a brief cameo when I traded a Brand New Heavies cd to my pal Sam Pfeifle for his copy of Kinks Kronikles. This kept the boys simmering on the back burner. You see Kronikles is a stellar collection of material culled from the band’s Golden Era from Something Else through Lola.  Unfortunately, and especially on the original cd release, the sound quality sucks.  The sound levels are generally low, the mix is atrocious, and the sounds are mushed together with no clarity.  Coupled with my loss in interest in the band in recent years, I spun the disc a couple of times but really stashed it aside like a trinket; it was hard to truly listen to.  But it was the music on this collection that would eventually set the seed of greater appreciation to come.

Through the rest of college I eventually found my ‘place’ in life, and have cultivated myself as a horticulturalist/orchardist ever since.  As I was coming around professionally I still carried some emotional baggage, but I didn’t rely on the brothers Davies to get me through.  In fact I missed the Kinks or their principals several times over the next few years; the band in Manchester, VT in the summer of 94 or so, Ray at the Flynn in Burlington in 96 and again in Concord, NH in 97, Dave at Emerald City in Montpelier in 98.  I had moved on, and felt that the Kinks represented my high school self.

 

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All sound samples are of a crappy quality for a reason.   You should listen, learn, and buy the damned albums.  Don't be cheap!

 

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All material Copyright Terence Bradshaw 2006-2013

terryb at lostmeadowvt dot com