Wednesday, February 6, 2008

TILL DEATH DO US PART


Listen to TILL DEATH DO US PART by The Kinks.

Hi everybody! It's nice to be back after a few days off. We're coming to the end of our little series. Tomorrow we're going to share a classic Kinks song today that everybody knows, but today is one nobody knows.

Till Death Do Us Part is a fantastic Kinks song that has never really seen the light of day. In part, that's because it wasn't really a Kinks record. Ray was commissioned to write the song for a motion picture of the same name. (Maybe some of you have even seen this movie? It was the English predecessor to "All In The Family." A different version of today's song (sung by some other guy) played over the title credits.) Our version was briefly out on the "Great Lost Kinks Album."

One thing we've tried to show is that Mrs. Davies added so much to the Kinks' sound. Just listen to the style and subtlety of Rasa's contribution to Till Death Do Us Part. She is only really doubling one instrument, but she picks the right one, Ray's instantly recognizable acoustic guitar. As usual, her contribution adds prettiness and wistfulness, which are always welcome in Ray's songs. There's a poignancy in this song, in the way Mrs. Davies observes and comments on her husband's reflections on married life.

The bittersweetness of the song is deepened by the knowledge that this is one of her very last contributions. It seems that it was too difficult to integrate his married life with his musical life, and for the sake of both he had to remove one from the other. As for his musical life, we know that Rasa's presence in the studio was at least occasionally difficult for the band: "With Rasa tagging along with us all the time, tempers began to sizzle and eventually the group began to splinter." But she also served to defuse tensions at different times: "She'd keep peace in the group just by being there. She'd come down into the studio and say, 'Could you try this or that?' And because she was a nice little nineteen-year old girl, you'd say, 'Well, OK yeah.'" (Both of those quotes are from bassist Pete Quaife, by the way.) (mild chauvinism in original.)

And according to Ray, leaving his wife out of the studio was the only way for him to keep thins going. He noted once that Rasa was very upset that she hadn't sang on Lola, their next and biggest hit. He said, "I was desperate to make my marriage work. It's all too easy to say you're imprisoned by the people who love you. but I was making myself a prisoner, and I wasn't able to do my job properly, that's all there is."

Unfortunately, we've been unable to track down Rasa's thoughts on her time singing with the Kinks, but to borrow a cliche, the music speaks for itself. The Kinks have been beloved by their fans for turning away from the Sgt. Peppers' excesses of contemporary British pop music in 1967 for something gentler, more reflective, and more... feminine. Rasa Davies deserves a lot of credit for that turn.

Photo: Snow and sun.

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3 comments:

Penny said...

Lovely series of posts.

Where was the picture taken?

Bill said...

That's up in Maine

Corbett said...

The greatest thing about being a music dork is "discovering" something like this that you should've heard, but didn't. This song is so ingenious, and so depressing. Never has there been a more eloquent description of why lazy people should throw up their hands and marry one another:

Life is like a school,
But I'm not prepared to keep on learning,
Even though it treats me like a fool.

This is our lot,
To live together,
Not live apart.
Let's stay together,
Until death us do part.