My first inkling of the Kink's came from their 1965 U.S. hit " A Well Respected Man" which I'd heard on an Oldies station that my mother always had on at some point in the late 70's . I'd no idea who this band singing were but I knew they sounded British. I could only recall the melody after awhile as the words slipped from my brain. There was no Internet, no iTunes, no YouTube, no Shazam and humming it to my parents and friends was about as useful as trying to get a four year old to translate ancient Hebrew. So I devised my own lyrics that I sang to myself to it's melody to keep it fresh in my head in the hopes that one day I'd discover it's true identity (I did the same for The Hollie's "On A Carousel"):
"with my monophonic electric double neck guitar I go driving past here house here in a big black shiny car"
Silly yeah I know but I was all of 12 or 13 . It wasn't until a few years later I was humming it in school in the hall (it had a great echo down this one ancient corridor) and a teacher heard me. Instead of reprimanding me he said "Kinks eh?" I'd like to think I said "I beg your pardon", but I was in my early teens so my answer was more than likely: "What?". The reply was something to the effect of "the Kinks, they're a British group". Conversation led to the divulging of this songs title and I scrawled it on the inside of a notebook: "A Well Respected Man" by The Kinks. As mentioned above there was no iTunes or way to instantly find this song, not that I had any money to do so anyway so it was all but forgotten until Xmas of 1982 or 1983 (in a time period where I'd reconnected myself with British 60's sounds that were from 1980 on dashed away by punk and '79 mod and ska bands). For Xmas my parents bought me a British Kinks compilation LP called "The Kinks Greatest Hits" (more than likely from Jamesway a department store chain who's record department always had loads of odd British LP's on Marble Arch, Pickwick and etc, you can read more on my Jamesway experience here). They'd no idea whether I'd heard of them or not and to be honest I'd all but forgotten them till I heard that tune. It was an odd comp as it contained "A Well Respected Man" (which was not a hit in the U.K. just an E.P. track as mentioned earlier) as well as another E.P. tune "Wait Till Summer Comes Along".
"A Well Respected Man" first saw the light of day on the "Kwyet Kinks" E.P. (Pye NEP 24221 in September 1965). a month later it was launched as an A-side in the United States where it rose to # 13( the fourth Kinks single to break the American top 20, their next to last hit of the 60's here in the States). To me it epitomizes crucial trademarks of Ray Davie's 60's songwriting: social commentary and the distinction between the classes. The lyrics probably didn't mean much here in the States and it's probably the only time the word "fags" was used in the American Top 40 (though certainly not the derogatory phrase we Yanks know it as). It's lyrically cynical but it's bitterness is assuaged by it's bouncy cheeky chappie delivery because of course Ray is merely taking the piss out of these morally bankrupt, decadent Toffs . Again I'm sure all this flew over everyone's heads here.
I've borrowed the lyrics from one of those dodgy lyrics websites but they seem accurate to me.