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In 1978, my brother came home with Misfits by a classic rock band known as the Kinks. I didn’t understand the retched look rock stars took on at the time to stick it to the man, but fortunately I had no control of the stereo. This, because Ray Davies would make a career of writing songs about me. I simply got to survive.
Immediately struck by Hayfever, and easily able to reel off 12 sneezes in a row, I decided this disheveled gaggle of toughs deserved closer study. On the B side, Permanent Waves is the greatest Kinks song you’ve never heard.
In the 1970s, Ray was clued into how the blow-dryer helped the world finally figure out what to do with long hair. This meant boys had to shed their side part and style down the middle to achieve the prerequisite amount of cool.
Not nearly as cool as I wanted to be, I never mustered enough nerve to make the sea change, and always regretted not taking Dina Filosa’s offer to do my part. Oh, what might have been?
Then things got serious. Misfits. Around junior year, my small group expanded, and I seemed to fall through the cracks. I heard about parties rather than going to them. I was lost and lacked the confidence to angle my way back in.
Graduation night encapsulated the situation – sitting home because I thought I didn’t fit in. “You’re a misfit, afraid of yourself so you run away and hide,” Ray resonated the classic rock anthem.
Exactly, because I knew the exclusion was partly imagined, but my irrationality fed off itself and kept me from reengaging back into real life. You could almost say, “When I felt the world was closing in, I turned the stereo way up high….”
So engrossed in my Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy, I missed Low Budget, but in 1981 I took umbrage in, “Paranoia indeed destroy ya.” Clearly applying, my ability as a high school wrestler fell prey to more imagined deficiencies.
A big deal at the time, the song didn’t really reveal itself until freshman year at Plattsburgh State. There was this girl. The first who seemed to like me. “I left home just a week before,” and walking back from class everyday, I was completely ensnared.
Unfortunately, I missed Ray’s warning, and it was too late by the time she appeared alone at my door. “Girl I want you here with me, but I’m really not as cool as I’d like to be.”
All I could do was maneuver ourselves to a party because terror put me in full flight mode. Ultimately, I escaped but since the frustrating scene was repeating throughout college, I became a Kinks fanatic.
She would land elsewhere, and the fallout coincided with 1983’s, State of Confusion.
In accordance with my devastation - I guess – girls didn’t look as good. In fact, I seemed not be attracted to them at all. My explanation, I must be gay.
Not that guys registered in any way, the confusion was distressing nonetheless. “Now, I wish I never crossed the other side,” was my lament for actually trying to get a girl.
Maybe not so Predictable but the song was there just in case. And while predictability is “probably same for the whole human race,” Ray leveled my despair where it belonged. “It’s gonna get better some way/I wish it would get worse any way/What could I lose/it might turn into something better.”
Likening such defeatism to the “nose on my face, and the way I’m coming my hair,” further fueled the suspicion that Ray was watching me.
An aside to the main confused storyline, that passed and with a vengeance. I was completely set a blaze, but liking someone was out. As such, I spun my wheels junior year by chasing girls as relentlessly as I ran away from them.
I believe the technical term is “Destroyer.”
As expected, more woes returned when the moratorium on liking went out the door. Or in Ray speak, “He adores the girl next door, and he’s dying to get at her.”
Ray actually showed up to forewarn me with a tour stop in Plattsburgh. But since I’m a product of post 1960’s Kinks counselling, I completely missed who Raymond Douglas was speaking in bringing down the house with, You Really Got Me.
An unrequited 9 month odyssey gave new meaning to understatement. “The word of mouth says that I’ve gone insane/That wine and women have affected my brain.”
This too would pass, and the Kinks went mostly silent until 1992. But Phobia fit - given all those demonstrated herein, and the subsequent mental breakdown shouldn’t surprise.
The only symptom I share is how looking at people so overwhelmed me that I stared at the sidewalks of NYC on the way to work everyday. Hence…“Walking around this metropolis/with its building that reach to the clouds/There must be millions of people out there/ walking with their heads bowed."
Throw in being 27 with classic rock gods Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, and “Can’t find a home until I found my soul” proved that Ray had not abandoned me in my darkest hour.
I never doubted it. Thank you Ray Davies, I’m sure you feel the same.