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Song Of The Weekend: Ray Davies – “I, The Victim”


As far as I am concerned, Ray Davies is the best songwriter of my lifetime.   His body of work is amazing and he is still going strong well into his Sixties.  He may not have achieved the same level of notoriety of his peers over the years, but I challenge anyone who is a fan of rock music to sit down and listen to the vast collection of songs created by The Kinks and his solo work and not come away impressed.  Pete Townshend has been vocal with his praise over the years and Bruce Springsteen and John Bon Jovi are avid fans.  He recently released a collaborative album called See My Friends in which many top artists (past and present) covered his hits with him. 

Ray can be silly and serious, angry and happy, hopeful and melancholy, wistful and optimistic, etc.  He can write beautiful ballads and rock with the best of them.  He is sometimes prone to social commentary but in a clever way that makes you want to pay attention and listen.  What’s even more impressive is that the songs never get stale after repeated listenings.  The live recorded album, One For The Road, should be in everyone’s music collection.

His songs run the whole gamut of human experience and have grown as he has grown.  I have always appreciated artists who are able to capture the essence of life at any given point in time and Ray has been doing this effectively since the early 1960s.  Sadly due to the illness of his brother Dave and other complicated personal issues, The Kinks haven’t released an album in quite some time but Ray has kept busy with his solo work.   The two original and two retrospective albums created during this period have been nothing short of brilliant.  Moreover, if you haven’t seen Ray live I highly recommend it.   He may not have the same vigor of his youth, but his stage presence is something to behold. 

I’ve chosen the fairly new song from his solo period “I, The Victim” because I feel it portrays Ray at his best.  Thoughtful and direct lyrics supported by great rockin music and seemingly effortless singing.

We live and suffer according to our vision
Of love and choices, romantic indecision
Again, again, the same repetition
We play the game but hate the condition

We make mistakes without resolution
Again, again, we do it to ourselves
We never learn, we scream and we yell
Then walk the streets in a solitary hell

‘Tis I, the victim of these self-afflicted wounds
And I’m a victim of these self-afflicted wounds
Tis I, the victim
Victim of a wanderin’ heart

We are the victims of these self-afflicted wounds
We cry despair, but ridicule and laughter
Are everywhere, so you better not complain
Spill your guts to an innocent bystander
Pull out your hair, but they laugh in your face

You are the victim of these self-afflicted wounds
‘Tis I, the victim of these self-afflicted wounds
I, the victim
Left you shiver in the dark

In crimes of passion we are oh so vulnerable
We can’t escape and it is so emotional
And I can’t believe, no I can’t believe
The devastation that it brings upon us all

I stand convicted, the one who is addicted
The person led to a solitary cell
The judge, jury, cry of fury
Somebody said, “why’d you do this to yourself?”

We live and die according to our visions
Of love and choices, romantic indecision
Again and again, the same repetition
We play with life and we gamble it away

And cry the victims of these self-afflicted wounds
We are the victims of these self-afflicted wounds
‘Tis I, the victim
Left you shiver in the dark

We are the victims of these self-afflicted wounds
Yes we are…

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