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American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Jun 29, 2020

Mark Doyle is a professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University. A native of Oklahoma who now resides in Nashville, he has lived for extended periods in New Orleans, Boston, and Ireland. His latest book is The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached.

Mark and Colin talk about the historical and sociological background of the Kinks' golden period in the late 1960s and early 1970s. More specifically, they discuss how the brilliant and multi-faceted Ray Davies, the Kinks' main songwriter and singer, commented on the profound changes going on around him. In the process, he and the Kinks made classic albums such as Something Else, Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur, Lola, and Muswell Hillbillies.

Mark and Colin also examine the challenges of doing a different kind of writing, namely, how historians trained in a doctoral program examine a pop culture subject. As Mark sees it, he didn't want to write a typical history of the band. And while interviewing someone in the Kinks would have been fun and exciting, talking to a famous musician won't necessarily add much to your story.  

The Kinks were a distinctly British band, but the subjects Ray Davies analyzed--urban renewal, alienation and economic anxiety, the rise of the suburbs, the expansion of the welfare state--were relatable to Americans, too. Ray's songs did not emerge in a vacuum. His art was born amid the changes going on in the postwar world all around him.