Thursday, November 26, 2015

Other Voices, Part 20: 1967--The Kinks Couldn't Help But Comment Again

The point I've made in past posts is that rock and pop groups were observing the tragedies of The Beatles and commenting on them in their music.

The Beatles as American fans knew them (1964-1966) kicked off backmasking in songs and the new, new Beatles (1966-1970) used that medium to comment on events that happened to our Paul.  Other bands followed suit as I've pointed out in the series of "Other Voices" posts.  The fact that our Paul was the topic of most of the backmasking showed how strongly his still yet to be publicly detailed travails affected these musicians.

Enter Ray Davies of The Kinks who prided himself on being the Greek chorus of British life.  He observed the British rock band scene with both imitation and distance.  Their The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society album was their hopping on the new, new Beatles Sgt. Pepper bandwagon and the distance dated back to 1965 when Davies wrote the snide little song, "Where Have All The Good Times Gone".  The song lampooned The Rolling Stones and The Beatles with lyrics like:
     1.)  "Time was on our side . . ." --alluding to The Rolling Stones' song, "Time Is On My Side".
     2.)  "Let it be like yesterday" and "Yesterday was such an easy game for you to play" --taken from
            The Beatles' "Yesterday".
     3.)  " . . .  get your feet back on the ground" --referencing The Beatles' song, "Help".

Little wonder that Davies would pick up where he left off in 1965 and comment--forward and backwards--about our Paul.

The album Davies used was Something Else By The Kinks, recorded between the autumn of 1966 and the summer of 1967 and released in September, 1967.

The Kinks' song with direct backmasking references to Paul was "Situation Vacant". 

It is supposed to be a Davies' character study of a young couple.  The woman's mother is overbearing and to keep peace with the mother-in-law, the man quits his job and looks for another in the help wanted (situations vacant) ads.  The man doesn't find a job, ends up penniless and separated from his wife, who goes home to her mother.

I am clueless to speculate how much of the song is autobiographical of Paul.  Paul was forced out of The Beatles and according to the Beatles' 1967 Christmas fan record there was a "situation vacant" for the position of Paul McCartney that was filled after some auditions.  The only suggestive forward clues in the lyrics are:
     1.)  "Then he had to leave the apartment and sought a less plush residence"  --which hints that the man had had money to afford a plush residence.
     2.)  "Johnny's in a great big hole"  -- a grave?

There has been a lot of speculation--mine included--that Suzanne, Susannah and other variations of the name are codewords for Paul in songs at the time, so we can puzzle over whether the wife in the song--named Suzy--is Paul.  Or is Johnny, Paul?  Or both Suzy and Johnny are Paul and the little mama mentioned in the song (the mother-in-law) is a codeword for someone or something else.  (Remember The Kinks' "Sunny Afternoon" where "big fat mama" was the tax-gobbling British government?)

But what is clear in the song is what you hear backwards.
     At 1:21-1:23, 2:05-2:07 and 2:42-2:43 in the reversed song you hear:  "fancy for Paul".
     At 2:32 and 2:42 you hear:  "Paulie"
     And at 3:04-3:05 you hear:  "He bad".

I also heard stray words like:
     At 1:05-1:06:  "marmalade";
     At 2:17-2:18 and 2:21-2:22:  "share with this*;    (*pronounced "dis")
     And at 3:02:  "Monday night".

So "Situation Vacant" was  about Paul.

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