Case Study Two – The Kinks

The Kinks – A Well Respected Man

r-1956148-1346775314-8796-jpeg
(“Kinkdom” by the Kinks, 1965)

Originally released on an EP in the United Kingdom, being later released as part of a full album called Kinkdom in America in 1965, ‘A Well Respected Man’ by the Kinks is an easy to listen to tune that not-so-subtley mocks the higher-class of 1960s England. This ’60s Rock song is said to be a part of rhythm guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, “Ray Davies’s…increasingly…close, wry, and sometimes satirical observations of English society, manners, and class structure (Baxter Moore, 2006).” Other songs following this line of song-writing include ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion,’ and ‘Dead End Street.’ Upon analysing even just the lyrics of ‘A Well Respected Man,’ it is obvious that Davies is mocking the whole image of a ‘well-respected man,’ in Upper British Society. The lyrics tell the story of a man whose father is sleeping with the maid while his mother meets with councilors, passing looks at ‘every suave young man.’ He is a man who waits impatiently for his Father’s death in hope of inheriting his wealth, only to most likely spend it on his own ‘exclusively better’ brand of fags. The mocking tone and symbolism is endless, and makes for a very dry, satirical piece.

The following song information was gathered from the sheet music: (“The Kinks “A Well Respected Man” Guitar Tab in C Major”, 1965)

Duration: 2 minutes 45 seconds

Time signature: 4/4

Tempo: 166BPM

Key Signature: C

Instruments: Vocals, Backing Vocals, Electric Guitar, Bass, Drum Kit

Song Structure: ABCABCABCABC

A = Verse

B = Pre-Chorus

C = Chorus

kinks-vat
Structure Song Visual (Program Used: Variations Audio Timeliner)

Lyrics:

‘Cause he gets up in the morning,
And he goes to work at nine,
And he comes back home at five-thirty,
Gets the same train every time.
‘Cause his world is built ’round punctuality,
It never fails.And he’s oh, so good,
And he’s oh, so fine,
And he’s oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He’s a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.And his mother goes to meetings,
While his father pulls the maid,
And she stirs the tea with councilors,
While discussing foreign trade,
And she passes looks, as well as bills
At every suave young man

‘Cause he’s oh, so good,
And he’s oh, so fine,
And he’s oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He’s a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he likes his own backyard,
And he likes his fags the best,
‘Cause he’s better than the rest,
And his own sweat smells the best,
And he hopes to grab his father’s loot,
When Pater passes on.

‘Cause he’s oh, so good,
And he’s oh, so fine,
And he’s oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He’s a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he plays at stocks and shares,
And he goes to the Regatta,
And he adores the girl next door,
‘Cause he’s dying to get at her,
But his mother knows the best about
The matrimonial stakes.

‘Cause he’s oh, so good,
And he’s oh, so fine,
And he’s oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He’s a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

Dynamics:
The guitar sounds very organic, plodding nicely along to the upbeat drums. It fits in very nicely, sitting between the vocals and drum kit. The dynamics don’t change at all, which makes me think that there is some compression on the guitar.
Davies’s voice is quite dry, and like the guitar, stays the same level the whole song. His tone does however change in the fourth verse, where he draws his words out more and it seems puts on more of a ‘pompous’ English accent. This is perhaps to underline the mocking tone of the entire song and end with a punch and keep listeners interested, similar to a bridge in most modern songs.
Dave Davies harmonies with his brother in the choruses almost sound like he is directly mocking the tone of upper-class British society, while amazingly, still actually singing. They are set into the background just enough so as to punctuate the satirical nature of the song.
Other things to note are the are the very subtle bass line, which repeats a three chord progression throughout most of the song. Also, the drum kit keeps up the same beat throughout the verses, and only changes in the choruses.
Overall in relation to dynamics, the song stays around the same dB level the entire time, which definitely adds to the dry, mocking tone.
Spectral Analysis:
The frequency range of an electric guitar is very broad, normally from around 240Hz-5kHz. In this song the guitar is quite bright, indicating that there is maybe a boost just above the 1kHz mark. Also it is very clean, which indicates a high-pass filter around 80-150Hz.
The male vocal range is around 250Hz-4khz. Though Davies’s voice is very dry, it also has quite a lot of presence, indicating a small boost around 2kHz, although this could also be the layering of his and his brother’s vocals at certain points. There is no harsh sibilance which may mean there has been a low-pass filter around the 4-6kHz mark.
The range of bass is approximately 50Hz to 1kHz. In this particular song, though the bass is in the background is still quite strong. There may have been a low-pass used around 2-3kHz and a boost around 700Hz, strengthening the attack.
The drum kit sounds a little tinny, which indicates a boost around 1.5kHz and a high-pass around 80Hz. The attack is very strong though, so there may have been a boost at 2.5kHz.
Spatial Attributes and Sound Stage
The song sounds as if it is done in a medium sized venue, perhaps a lower-class venue with a bar and a few scattered tables surrounding the dance floor. There is a small amount of reverb on the vocals, with a fast attack and moderately fast release. There is also some subtle reverb on the guitar. These both give the impression of a little more space in the mix. Everything seems to be panned stereo, maybe not hard left and right, but all at different degrees. Below is a visual of how the instruments are placed within the mix, with the vocals firmly at the front and everything else sitting in between them and the drums:
kinks-stereo
Overall Analysis of Sound:
Overall, the hook of the song would have to be the dry, mocking tone which is accentuated through the vocals. Coupled with the lyrics, it really makes for an almost comedic look at English society. Furthermore, have the sound stage set up like it is, in a medium sized casual venue, gives an impression about the bands culture and how they see the world, which I think really adds to the songs meaning.
References:
Baxter-Moore, N. (2006). “This is where I belong” – identity, social class, and the nostalgic englishness of ray davies and the kinks. Popular Music and Society,29(2), 145-165.
“Kinkdom” by the Kinks. (1965). Retrieved from https://img.discogs.com/52_KeAfEKAMh4EohtkGUWtXUNPc=/fit-
in/600×600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-1956148-1346775314-8796.jpeg.jpg
The Kinks “A Well Respected Man” Guitar Tab in C Major. (1965). Musicnotes.com. Retrieved 1 November 2016, from http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0060741
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