For a Kinks-related issue some years back, Magnet Magazine asked me to tell them my favorite Ray Davies song. This is a re-print of that, on the anniversary of that song’s 1970 release. I should clarify that it would unfair to call this my “favorite Kinks’ song;” that honor would maybe go to “Death of a Clown” or “Strangers” but those are both Dave Davies songs, the more-overlooked and equally notable Davies brother. That said, I of course deeply love Ray, and though my music taste has gone through a million changes over the years I never stop being glad I’m a man and so is Lola.
Not the most esoteric #1 choice, but anybody who argues that this isn’t one of the better rock songs of all time is just being contrary. Like Lola herself, you don’t have to know what’s hiding underneath the surface of this song to enjoy it – you can just focus on that great riff and typically transcendent Davies vocal melody. “Lola” is rich and complex, though, heroically humanizing a character who could have been an adolescent joke (one year after the Velvet Underground’s “Candy Says,” admittedly) before crowning her and seating her at the center of a song that testifies to the primacy of love over all things. “Lola” sparkles with detail and pulses with yearning emotion, the characters show every dimension of themselves, and by the end of the song we fully agree with the couple dancing “under electric candle-light;” we agree that light is light – warming and illuminating our way – whether it comes from fire or from a bulb on a club wall.
Originally printed in Magnet Magazine, 2008.