Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sinking Radio: The Kinks "Big Sky"

Here’s my weekly reminder to tune in to Sinking with Sylvia and Todd on Little Radio. The show airs Friday from Noon to 2:00 PM PST. Their guests tomorrow will be The Weather Underground. Those guys just got back from a big tour, including a set at Bonnaroo (the Village Voice labeled them “a band to watch”), so they should have some good tales to tell.

Each week on the show, there’s a featured You Set the Scene pick. Tomorrow my pick will be “Big Sky” by the Kinks. Longtime readers probably know that Ray Davies is my favorite lyricist of all time. Their albums from 1966 – 1971 rank right up there with the Beatles for me (blasphemous). There are a few candidates for my favorite song. “You Really Got Me” is still probably my favorite early rock ‘n’ roll song. “Waterloo Sunset” always makes me happy. “Shangri-La” blows me away every time I hear it.

So what makes “Big Sky” my favorite Kinks’ track? It won’t show up on any greatest hits collection by the Kinks. It’s track six on Village Green Preservation Society, which is hardly their best seller (although it is my favorite). It’s a song that works best given the context of the songs that surround it. But those lyrics. They’re simple on the surface, but go as deep as you want to take them.

Like most of the record, the song addresses frustration with modern society. It’s sung from the perspective of a stoic who gets overwhelmed. But he “think(s) of the big sky, and nothing matters much to me.” You can’t really be certain what Davies was thinking or trying to say when he wrote it. Many would say that he’s channeling Nietzsche (in his Ray way) and saying God is dead. Does he give a shit?

The guitar parts are pretty fantastic too.

Matthew Sweet and Yo La Tengo have both done pretty good covers of it too.

Tune in to Sinking Radio tomorrow to hear it.

No comments: