As long-time readers of this site may recall, there was once a tagline used to describe the ethos of Glorious Noise: “Rock and roll can change your life.”
And now I must report with some sadness that it can change lives in a way that I’d prefer not to imagine.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Ray Davies becoming knighted by the Queen.
And a couple weeks before that I wrote about how Roger Daltrey was working with Rolls-Royce to create a bespoke version of the Wraith motorcar.
Now the two subjects have come together.
The Who version of the Rolls Wraith has come out. It features the artwork of Mike McInnery: the album cover of Tommy is painted on the hood and the birds that are also part of the cover art flit about on the fenders and C-pillars.
But that is but one of nine “Inspired by British Music” cars that has been developed.
There is also one that Ray Davies art directed. For his luxury car he selected lyrics from two songs that appear on Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire): “Shangri-la” and “Drivin’” that appear in a digitized version of Davies’ handwriting. In addition to which, there are two umbrellas (there are umbrella holders in the doors of the Wraith, don’t you know) that include a reference to “Sunny Afternoon.”
Sir Davies said of his participation in the undertaking, “Working with Rolls-Royce’s designers on this car has given me the chance to express some of the themes of the music The Kinks enjoyed performing for many years. There were various elements of the car to work on and we had lots of opportunities to get creative with The Kinks-related themes.”
I can only hope that the use of the third person in that final sentence refers to the designers and Davies, not just Davies alone.
Somehow I don’t remember hearing much in the way of the celebration of Rolls-Royce motorcars on Kinks albums. And it strikes me as funny to know that the title of the album that followed Arthur is Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.
Again, this is something that is being done for charity, so it is a good thing in that regard.
But it is still striking that someone like Davies, who seemed to be something of a bona-fide working class hero back in the day, is now hanging out in Goodwood with the Rolls designers.
Rock and roll certainly changed his life.
I wonder if he remembers these lyrics that he sang back in 1971, from “Muswell Hillbilly”:
“They’re putting us in identical little boxes,
No character just uniformity,
They’re trying to build a computerised community,
But they’ll never make a zombie out of me.
“They’ll try and make me study elocution,
Because they say my accent isn’t right,
They can clear the slums as part of their solution,
But they’re never gonna kill my cockney pride.”