Ray Davies’ New Book ‘Americana’ Explores His Love/Hate Relationship With U.S.
Nearly 20 years after publishing his “unauthorized autobiography” X-Ray, former Kinks frontman Ray Davies is preparing to return to bookstores this October with Americana. According to the publisher’s website, the book traces his complicated relationship with the United States.
“As a boy in post-War England, legendary Kinks’ singer/songwriter Ray Davies fell in love with America—its movies and music, its culture of freedom, fed his imagination,” the book’s description reads. “Then, as part of the British Invasion, he toured the US with the Kinks during one of the most tumultuous eras in recent history—until the Kinks group was banned from performing there from 1965-69.”
According to Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed by Rolling Stone writer Gavin Edwards, the ban was prompted by a few incidents: “Ray Davies punched a union official who kept insinuating that England was already as good as Communist, and they appeared on a Dick Clark special for NBC without paying their mandatory dues to the American Federation of Television and Recording Artists… Years later, Davies mused, ‘In many respects, that ridiculous ban took away the best years of the Kinks’ career when the original band was performing at its peak.'”
Years later, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Kinks would have the greatest successes in the states with 1979’s Low Budget (featuring “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” and “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman)”), 1981’s Give The People What They Want (“Destroyer,” “Better Things”) and 1983’s State Of Confusion (“Come Dancing,” “Don’t Forget To Dance”), amid complaints from fans that they were catering their music towards American radio stations (and the American arena rock circuit).
The book culminates in the a “transformative event”: a shooting in New Orleans which nearly killed him. “In Americana,” according to the publisher, “Davies tries to make sense of his long love-hate relationship with the country that both inspired and frustrated him. From his quintessentially English perspective as a Kink, Davies—with candor, humor, and wit—takes us on a very personal road trip through his life and storied career as a rock star, and reveals what music, fame, and America really mean to him.”
Americana has been on Davies’ mind for quite a while. The deluxe edition of his 2008 solo album, Working Man’s Cafe, contained a DVD called Americana: A Work In Progress. The film, directed by Davies, featured footage from his 2001 Storyteller Tour; in it, Davies narrates over the post-9/11 landscape with songs from the album as a soundtrack.
Americana is due in bookstores this October.