Kinks Alive! - Crawdaddy Article - 1975

Self–Preservation A multi–media production starringRaymond Douglas Davies as (himself)

Scene I
New York City. A City Squire Hotel room. April, 1971.
Ray Davies is cowering in a dark corner, dressed in tan slacks and conservative blue blazer. RAY (chewing on a finger nail):
"I've just had … a very bad three months, since Christmas really, Finding out things about myself. I tried to stab Dave last month. We were having something to eat after a gig, and he took one of my chips. Got him right under the ribs. It was horrible. I suppose it really means I'm scared. It sounds phony, when it's a nice day like today and we're sitting here having a nice chat, but that's really what I mean. A friend of mine, I went to visit her in England, and she's totally cracked up. And she's the last person … I thought … would ever …
Scene 2
New York City. Philharmonic Hall, later that night.
Dressed in a flowered shirt, a Velvet suit and an over-sized black bow tie, Ray Davies is performing with his group, the Kinks. RAY (throwing back his arms): "We've got to forget what this fucking world's doing to us!"
AUDIENCE: "Yeah!!!" Three sheets to the wind, or else blown by some invisible emotional storm, Davies stumbles halfway across the stage, careening madly out of control toward the spot where Brother Dave is playing guitar. Date calmly steps out of the way and lets Ray fall back into a bank of amplifiers. The amps give way; Ray hits the deck. Unmoved, Dave doesn't offer to help him up. Ray has missed a verse but while lying prone, draws the microphone to his lips and sings …
RAY: "I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, oh I'm an ape man!"
Scene 3
A posh restaurant. Later that night. Ray Davies has gathered all the money he has-$200-and repaired to this opulent roost. He's bought a tableful of wine, and a big meal, and he's sitting there gorging himself, and getting drunk, and crying. A friend tries to cheer him up by telling him that the audience "enjoyed" seeing him fall over.
RAY: "Oh, they enjoyed it."
Cut to a sleazy pancake place on Broadway called Child's, much later that night. Ray Davies is nursing a welt on his back and crying in his coffee. Somehow, he knows that he will be crying all night, and all of the next day as well.
RAY (to himself): "Fool."
Scene 4
New York. A City Squire Hotel room. Seven months later. Ray Davies is sitting on a snug sofa wearing a neat patchwork shirt and sweater-vest.
INTERVIEWER: "You've just signed with a new record company, yet on Muswell Hillbillies you have a song called 'Complicated Life' which sounds so pessimistic. The classic line-'Life is overrated."
RAY (parting his hair): "I wanted to call it 'Suicidal.' I wanted to make it like a note before you commit suicide. Tense, strained, fatigued. Resigned to the fact that it's a hopeless task. I'm afraid. I fall apart easily. I've got to surround myself with happiness because I can make unhappiness for myself very easy. I'm brilliant at that. It's building up to something … like an explosion. I said to a friend when I was really over the edge at one point, 'Shall I go to a doctor? Do you think he can cure it?' And he said, 'They can't cure it, but they can teach you to live with it."
INTERVIEWER: "You don't think of yourself as . . crazy, do you?"
RAY (pauses, then with some pride):"I think that I am totally mad."
Scene 5
London. White City Stadium. July, 1973. A small festival is in progress. The Kinks are billed below Edgar Winter. Backstage, Kinks coordinator Marion Rainford is standing outside her star's tarnished dressing room. MARION: "He's in a dreadful state. Christ, he's in a dreadful state. He may not show up. Ray's wife and two daughters disappeared three weeks ago. They could be dead for all he knows. He doesn't know what he's doing. He feels that tours have split his married life. He's just in a state of despair. The Kinks don't believe what he's saying. I don't believe what he's saying." Ray finally walks in behind sunglasses on this gray day, his dark brown hair a tangled mess. When he emerges for the show, he's putting his best foot forward, dressed in white badges and blazer. The audience heckles him. He staggers through the set. Some of the loyal fans are trying to sing along, sundancing in the rain. RAY: "I'm fucking sick of the whole thing. I'm sick up to here with it. I … I quit!"
Scene I
Cut to a slide show subtitled "Ray Davies vs. Powerman and the Money-go-round, " narrated by Alexander Scourby and featuring photos of the Kinks corresponding to that period in their history under discussion.
SCOURBY: "Over the years, Raymond Douglas Davies has met with sporadic success and intermittent failure. In 1967, on the brink of cashing in on their 'Sunny Afternoon' smash, the Kinks were banned by the American Musicians' Union after one of the group's managers took a dispute with a promoter to court. It wasn't until almost three years later, after Ray Davies himself had signed a letter of apology 'and admitted things,' Davies says, 'I never even did,' that the Kinks could undertake their triumphant tour. During this period, Kinks consciousness practically evaporated in America.
"Trapped in exile over in England, Ray Davies was almost at will turning out remarkably obscure little songs that received almost no commercial acceptance. Commissioned to write a musical for British TV, Davies conceived what might have been hailed as the first rock opera, a story about a beaten, working-class bloke named Arthur, but when he got bogged down with producers and directors, the Who stole his conceptual thunder with their opera, Tommy. Ironically, Arthur never made a public appearance because it turned out to be, Davies asserts, 'too expensive to be on TV and not expensive enough to be a movie.' Finally, Arthur was redesigned as a stage musical but that show never opened either. "Then, the Kinks rallied. Low on cash, Davies set out to write a hit single, an $7,000 later, with the runaway success of 'Lola,' Ray Davies re-emerged into the real world. Then, more disappointment. A wittily powerful attack on the music business, Davies' Lola vs. Powerman album was planned as an elaborate package. The Kinks' record company, Reprise, balked. The album came out as a truncated 'Part I.
"I wanted to do a double album,' Davies recalls. 'It would have told the whole story. They said no, we have to have a record now. It was just … crushing. ' So the Kinks jumped to RCA. There was no chance that their first record for a new label would be a 'Part II.
"Meanwhile, a movie about a penis transplant called Percy, for which Davies had written his first score, had opened and closed in a week. The Kinks recorded an album called Everybody's in Show Biz as a soundtrack to a 50-minute on-tour film they had completed but, according to Davies, 'RCA didn't want to get involved,' and so the promising cinematic experiment died.
"Undeterred, Davies began work on his long-delayed Preservation project. Again, he prepared a double album destined to be cut back to an 'Act I,' a mysteriously unsettling work-in-progress. But this time, the Kinks didn't jump labels. Nine months later, 'Act II' came out, accompanied by the first Kinks concept stage show. To this day, many consider Preservation-a pastiche of film, video, slides and live performance-the most successful musical stage production a rock group has created. But the album was a resounding commercial failure and Preservation played only 25 dates in America. Ray toyed with keeping it running in London-we could have gotten Michael Caine to play Mr. Flash,' he claims-but instead, ,he turned to yet another project. "This was a musical for British TV called Soap Opera, starring Davies in a dual lead role. But just two weeks before the telecast, Davies' 50-minute script was cut to 37 minutes; in addition to dialogue, the show's best song, '. Ducks on the Wall,' was deleted. 'I think you're just as well not to have seen it,' Davies says today.
"Staying busy, Davies turned to his third production of the year, Schoolboys in Disgrace. Hoping for another double album, he wrote 30 songs for the show; nine selections survived on the single LP that was issued. 'It was just a start,' Ray Davies complains. 'I wanted to say more about when Flash left school and . couldn't get a job because he never finished his classes. He was a 'bright kid but he got led into other things. I had the whole story worked out. '"But there will be no 'Act II' for Schoolboys in Disgrace. 'It's too complicated,' Ray Davies declares. 'There's no point. That's rock 'n roll, isn't it?…
Scene 2
New York. The Warwick Hotel Bar. December, 1975. Ray Davies is sitting at a corner table, drinking a tequila sunrise, dressed in brown skirt and tan sport coat. He is smiling easily but nervously plays with the shoulder strap of a cassette tape recorder, sad eyes pouring out of a pale face which, up close, seems lined well beyond its 31 years. RAY: "Well, I learn lessons all the time. I like glorious failure, I think it's terrific."
INTERVIEWER: "And you've experienced it?"
RAY (with a characteristic slight shake of the head and soft voice): "Oh, all the time, yeah. All the time. In the course of doing my work there are glorious failures, like tripping up on stage. It's like my solicitor-my lawyer-said to me, 'Ray, do you like serious music?' And I said, 'I always take my work seriously. ' Preservation I took very seriously. But they consider that l've failed in my work."I like to be happy but-I'm just one of those people-I've got a streak in me. I don't know what it is. It might have something to do with diet, or indigestion (grins) but I get really unhappy all of a sudden. I want to walk and be alone and not see anybody. The only way I can get out of it is to get up and start working. What is frightening is when you can't even work and you just stare at a wall. That's terrible-I've done that a few times. I don't like sitting around."What I don't like especially is when people compare me to people who have made it so-called 'big.' The only reason I haven't is possibly that's the way subconsciously I decided it should work out. It goes back to the old days; that's why I decided not to have my teeth capped. So I'm hard to photograph because of that. As a result, I don't get front pages like some people get. But maybe that's a defense mechanism. Nostalgia, nostalgia-the happier times for me are now. "INTERVIEWER (surprised): "Really? Why?"
RAY: "I feel much better about myself. Now, after a show, I feel like I've done a good day's work, like I've actually achieved something at the end of the night. I'm not unhappy-it's just that I'm unhappy that people think that I'm unhappy. I'm really happy! I felt that I was on top of the world the other night. When I was on-stage I was the biggest star in the world. When I tried to balance the beer can on my head. "In the old days, we'd just go on-stage and play the hits. We've done our loose shows, like the Philharmonic, and I like that, but it doesn't really give me a buzz at the end of the evening. I don't think I could have ever toured again if I hadn't been able to do Preservation … do the concept shows."
Scene I
North London. Hornsea. July, 1975. The Kinks have just finished their Soap Opera tour with seven dates in England. Ray Davies is in his office, on the phone to RCA. He is explaining that he wants to get to work on another theatrical thing immediately because there are certain ideas that he wasn't able to incorporate into Soap Opera. He says he's interested in fleshing out the Mr. Flash character from the Preservation show, going back to his schooldays to reveal the roots of his manic capitalistic hooliganism.
RAY: "I want the artwork to be in New York by September. I want the album to come out November 10th!"
Scene 2
The south of England. August, 1975. Ray Davies, the titles explain, has been writing the new album for two weeks, and will continue to work on it for two more, in a strict routine, six days a week and, usually, a couple hours on Sunday.
Early in the morning, he climbs out of bed. The clock shows 8:30 as he dashes out of his country home for the morning newspaper. When he returns, he sits at the table drinking his coffee and reading the paper. Around 10, he takes out a pad, pauses, then scribbles: "Write verse for 'Schooldays' … write verse for 'First Time We Fall in Love' … write instrumental bridge for 'No More Looking Back'… " and a long list of other chores. He walks to the piano. His long fingers alternately stroke the keys and grasp a pencil. Occasionally he stops to pick up a guitar to get a more percussive feel on a chorus. He spends a lot of time walking around the room, deep in thought. Sometimes he laughs, or talks to himself. As the day wears on, he ticks off the 30 projects he's completed. When the clock shows 2, he's off to the pub for a cheese roll and a Guinness. Then he's back, slaving away until 7. He looks at his checklist.
RAY: "Oh, I still need one more chorus!"
Scene 3
North London. Hornsea. Konk Studios. September, 1975. A purple door opens into a cozy converted warehouse replete with fireplace, pool table, built-in bar and pot of hot tea. Deep inside, Ray Davies is supervising the recording of Schoolboys in Disgrace. He's playing demos of the new songs for the band, passing around lyrics, explaining chord, changes, telling the engineer the exact sound he wants for the album.
Then the Kinks rehearse, Ray singing along, the band inserting fills and frills, Ray accepting some of their additions, rejecting others. He, compliments Dave for the guitar riff he has created for 'No More Looking Back" but tells John Gosling exactly the way he wants him to play the piano part in the same song. Then they try out "Headmaster," recording three different versions, with the band slowly breaking down the stilted format Ray had constructed for the song.
RAY: "This is the last take. If it doesn't make it, I'm throwing it out. It's do or die." On the fourth take, it's Do.
Scene 4
South of England. Late October, 1975. According to the titles, Ray has been mixing the album for the past month but has finally taken two days off to plot the stage show that will, hit the hardboards in less than a month. He's filling in a chart, indicating at what points in the show he wants to accompany the Kinks' music with film, where he wants slides, where he'll stick with the strength of the song unembellished by visuals.
He's marked a lot of ideas with "film" but shakes his head, knowing that he'll have to cut that, back to just two or three sequences to save money. He's just jotted down that he wants to film the "Education" number with Gosling as a caveman, in a manner reminiscent of a silent movie. RAY (writing on his pad): "… close 'Education' with a film of … a rocket ship taking off … and then falling backwards … onto the launching pad!"
Scene 5
Warwick Bar. December, 1975. Ray's face brightens with a phenomenal feline smile.
RAY: "I saw a rocket ship taking off but we couldn't get the rocket ship because the 35mm print was too expensive. But the atomic bomb going off at the end works better. That's an accident but it came about because we had a low budget. Sometimes a low budget helps."
INTERVIEWER: "How do you work out the budget?"
RAY: "Same as last show. It's out of our pocket. I wrote these songs tightly so they could be done very cheaply. It's not cheap but it's not as much money as, say, Alice Cooper would spend-or big shots like that. I saw some sets that Wagner had made for his 'Flying Dutch-man' things and it was amazing. I tell you, that guy was incredible; he must have been the Alice Cooper of his time. He had an enormous set made just so some guys could ride a horse across the stage. Amazing. Oh yeah, I'm into all that."
INTERVIEWER: "Tell me about the equipment involved." RAY: "It's all very simple. We have a Bell & Howell 16mm projector; I'd like to use 35mm because the quality is so much better. Then we have three slide carrousels. After renting our own screen the first couple times, we've found it's as cheap to buy it. We didn't invest that heavily originally; Preservation was an experiment until the first night we did it. Then I realized it could work.
"INTERVIEWER: "Are you usually that fanatical about outlining your day's work?"
RAY: "Had to for this one. Didn't have time for anything else. Songs don't come to me, I go to them. I think that's the way I work normally but I really went over the top and charted it all this time. It was as if I commissioned myself to write it. I get a lot of my ideas together on the train. I don't have time to go off to the Cliffs, to Cornwall, with the wind blowing in my hair, thinking of words. Divine inspiration doesn't work."
INTERVIEWER: "Did you attend a school like the one in Schoolboys?" RAY:"No, but they were strict and we did have to wear uniforms … but there's no more looking back' now, you see?"
Scene I
London. Muswell Hill. Late 1950s, or is it early 1960s? A small, two-story, three-bedroom, working-class brick house. Raymond Douglas Davies and his kid brother David Russell Gordon Davies are climbing out of bed to get ready for school. The clock shows 7:30. They visit the bathroom, then slip into their wine-red school uniforms and strap on their red and orange ties. Then they sit down at the breakfast table for some cereal with their mum, and sisters Gwen and Peggy.
Slowly the family dissolves, Peggy leaving for work, Gwen for grammar school Raymond and David leave around 8:30, with separate friends. Ray's friends have that clever look about their eyes; Dave's seem a little more rebellious-looking. In their identical red uniforms, everyone's equally fashionable but the Davies boys project a more working-class profile than their upwardly mobile comrades. With his two buddies, Dave walks about two blocks before he lights up a fag.
Ten minutes later, Raymond arrives at school with his friends. The sign reads: "William Grimshaw Secondary School" After checking into homeroom, Ray reports to the hall for assembly and a half hour of religious lessons. Then, it's back to the classroom. At noon, Raymond is finally released from bondage and hurries home for lunch with mum.
Where's Dave? He's over at his friend George's house, playing hooky-playing his guitar. It's one of the first times this has happened but the look on his choirboy face indicates it won't be the last. He's telling George about how he's tried everything to get out of class, even wrote a letter once explaining that because of a dubious "mastoid" in his ear he would have to go to the hospital for a check up every Friday.
Meanwhile, Ray returns to school at 1:30 for an afternoon of boredom spent doodling, thinking up short stories, envying Dave for his brashness and remembering the day he had skipped school to tramp on the fresh cut grass at the local cricket field.
School breaks at 4:10 and after some sparring in the playground, Raymond returns home for 6 o'clock supper. After-wards, he and Dave tune in some pirate radio music and play some of Dave's records: Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, Chuck Berry. Then Dave joins his pack down at the coffeebar while Ray leaves the little brick house for parts unknown …
Scene 2
Warwick Bar. December, 1975. Ray is lighting a cigarette.
RAY: "Well, I'll tell you. When I was a little boy, people said I would get very old by the time I was eighteen. I used to worry a lot when I was a kid. I'd age physically just because I thought a lot. I wasn't too knocked out by school. I decided what I wanted to do quite early-I wanted to get out, do art, and write stories. I was good at spelling; mathematically and academically I wasn't that hot."
INTERVIEWER: "What did you get into at art school?"
RAY: "Drugs? Everybody had drugs there, and that was '62-'63. And so actually, when I came to rock 'n. roll in the mid-'60s and people started talking about drugs, I thought it was really out of date (chuckles). I'd gone on to drinking by that time."
INTERVIEWER: "Some people think you took a lot of acid to get through those years of exile, '67-'69."
RAY (pauses, reflects, but not simply for effect): "I know a man who-before they banned the use of LSD in hospitals -a middle-aged man, who had something on his brain. They gave him LSD and he walked down the street telling people what a great time he was having. It's a shame it's been driven into little corners. But I think that's the … story of things, really."
INTERVIEWER: "What inspired 'Jack the Idiot Dunce' on the new album?"
RAY: "It was based on a real person in England who failed all his entrance exams but didn't try to commit suicide -he just got kicked out of home. I was amazed when I heard that; I didn't think people did that anymore. He turned up at a relative's house. He said, 'Can I stay here? My father's thrown me out. ' Like Victorian times. His father really had big ambitions for him and he just didn't make it. But the guy who was a dummy in school ended up a rock 'n roll dancer and a world famous … character. "I was like that-bad in school but a dancing fool. I guess you could say Jack was me."
Scene 3
New York. November, 1975. Outside the Beacon Theater following the Kinks' premiere of Schoolboys in Disgrace. A young man and woman pass by in green uniforms almost identical to those the Kinks had worn in the show. There are a lot of "God Save the Kinks" buttons sticking out of sloppy lapels on second-hand jackets worn by a majority of the good-naturedly drunken, at best middle-class, post-teen crowd. Even the young girls seem amiably out-of-it.
It's Friday but it's not Date Night; scarred faces and beer bellies pass in review, heading for the woodwork they crawled out of. You don't see these kids at any other rock concerts; one senses they don't have much bread and the money they do have is blown on steins of Bud or else stashed away for tickets to the next Kinks show.
JoAnn Krupinski and Steve Rowe seem to know each other. He goes to school on Long Island, wears heavy glasses and is a little tall for a Kinks freak; she hails from Jersey and has a huge gap in her front teeth that she was going to hate fixed until she met Ray Davies. They're both "working on" books about the Kinks
STEVE: "Guess I love the music, the words, the performances-what more can I say? It's great to see them alive and well after all these years. They're an institution. One of the survivors."
JOANN: "Ray talks about life, and there's no way to get away from life-except to die."
STEVE: "He's like the epitome of the common man who's become successful. You can get emotionally involved with his music, not like with Machine Head, Deep Purple, you know? It's a blend of modern rock and oldness, maybe some-thing out of Dickens."
JOANN: "Victorian. When he sings, I feel like I'm somewhere very old-fashioned. He's English but he touches everyone. It's heavy but it's still fun."
STEVE: "There's a definite human quality as opposed to a lot of other groups. I identify with his attitudes on life-his romantic vision, his cynicism. He talks about dullness and a boring life; I can relate to that. I've been hanging out at the hotel taping interviews with the people in the band."
JOANN: "I've saved up $2,000 so I can fly to London next year to do some re-search."
INTERVIEWER: "How do you spell your name?"
JOANN: "Jay oh capital ay en en. John Gosling told me, 'That's. the way English girls spell it. ' I said, 'That's the way they spell it here too!"
Scene I
Hollywood. December,, 1975. The offices of manager Skip Taylor, which its occupants insist on calling "Flo & Eddie Mansion West." They're sitting around shooting the bull with a couple of Eagles when the talk turns to Ray and his production work on a 1969 Turtles album called Turtle Soup. FLO: "We spent 20 days altogether working on the record. Ray stayed at the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel and drank a lot of beer and liked to read Playboy a lot. Just an average guy. We saw-suck-sought him out. We got his number and gave him a call. We introduced ourselves and he knew from us. And he said, 'yeah,' not a moment's thought."
EDDIE: "Only trouble was, White Whale Records didn't know from Ray Davies. So we had to convince them that we weren't jumping off a cliff. We played them stuff like 'Waterloo Sunset' and 'Autumn Almanac' and they were going: 'Who is this guy? Why does he sound like that?' And then we let him totally influence our music."
FLO: "Last time we saw him, last summer, he seemed just bent on his own career. Konk Records is kind of in a slowdown so he's really just trying to get himself going. We still buy every album of his that comes out and pick out the best parts and still believe that there are very few people with his vitality and sense of humor. What his albums lack in commercially they expand in eccentricity. He hasn't cared for 10 years whether he sells records, and for that I applaud him. He's a good guy and he knows what he's doing. He's a genius, he's obviously the middle-class genius of the '60s, the '70s-and the '80s too."
Scene 2
Warwick Bar. Ray has leaned back and relaxed a little, speaking more easily as the drink takes hold. Another cigarette charges him up; the future looms ambivalently, a heartbreak behind every bright light.
RAY: "What I'm really interested in doing now is shows for other people. I have all the equipment. I'd help stage it and if they wanted me to write a few things for it, I'd do that too. I'd like to get some-body's book and make a musical out of it. I'd like to work on a musical outside the Kinks and outside me as a performer. For instance, I'd like to stay around in New York and just get a show together. I should do that really, but I keep getting involved in these silly contracts and things (laugh). The next Kinks show, I'd like to use slightly different equipment, get into more ambitious things. "I'd really like to do one thing where I had more than $3 to spend on something. If we were booked into Madison Square Garden, I'd write a show to fill it. Everybody else can play there, why can't we?"
INTERVIEWER: "Get into more acting?"
RAY: "Well, I don't mind that. I like character parts. I'd like to play a bishop or, an accountant or a monk … Beethoven Jesus. I'd still like to develop Soap Opera into a 13-part soap opera on TV. I wrote a lot of Soap Opera in America, from watching television. I'd watch a guy on some show and say, 'Oh, he could have made a big deal out of that line!' "I'd still like to make an album that worked entirely in the studio. I want to do a special projects album. Got lots of ideas that aren't necessarily involved in the band, and for my sake, and their sake, I should do them, otherwise, I'll end up doing a Kinks album that isn't really a Kinks album. My songs would be different . ; my songs are cast for the Kinks, so for other people I would cast them differently. It certainly would be good exercise for me as a writer. . Writing's where I'm at, still." INTERVIEWER: "What about your next concept show?"
RAY: "I really haven't got it clear yet, I'd sort of like to do a musical Jaws (laughs). I've got a lot of things I want to say, it's just that I'm finding new ways of saying it."I'd like to find out more about physics, science. I'm quite involved in all that. It's funny, I'm getting interested in these academic things. You're sitting there and then you're gone and all those little things that make up your body have gone with you, your molecules and things. Like sometimes when I'm at the studio and think I've made a good track, I'll stick a rough vocal on in case something happens to me before coming in the next day.
INTERVIEWER: "Even though you're fatalistic, do you think you can accomplish all these things?"
RAY: "I'd like to-I'd really enjoy it. Perhaps … when I die … I'll put on my gravestone: 'Well, I've wanted to do this for a long time."
Scene 3
New York. December, 1975. An apartment somewhere. The lips of a shadow on a white wall are moving. The shadow belongs to Someone Who Knows Ray Davies Well. Actually, it's an actress who is reading the words from a script comprised of statements made by several people Who Know Ray Davies Well. SHADOW: "No one really knows him well. With Ray, I always felt it would be intrusive to ask questions. The only other one I ever met like him was James Taylor but James told me a lot more about his life than Ray did. I didn't eveninto a 13-part soap opera on TV. I wrote a lot of Soap Opera in America, from watching television. I'd watch a guy on some show and say, 'Oh, he could have made a big deal out of that line!' "I'd still like to make an album that worked entirely in the studio. I want to do a special projects album. Got lots of ideas that aren't necessarily involved in the band, and for my sake, and their sake, I should do them, otherwise, I'll end up doing a Kinks album that isn't really a Kinks album. My songs would be different . ; my songs are cast for the Kinks, so for other people I would cast them differently. It certainly would be good exercise for me as a writer. . Writing's where I'm at, still."
INTERVIEWER: "What about your next concept show?"
RAY: "I really haven't got it clear yet, I'd sort of like to do a musical Jaws (laughs). I've got a lot of things I want to say, it's just that I'm finding new ways of saying it."I'd like to find out more about physics, science. I'm quite involved in all that. It's funny, I'm getting interested in these academic things. You're sitting there and then you're gone and all those little things that make up your body have gone with you, your molecules and things. Like sometimes when I'm at the studio and think I've made a good track, I'll stick a rough vocal on in case something happens to me before coming in the next day.
INTERVIEWER: "Even though you're fatalistic, do you think you can accomplish all these things?"
RAY: "I'd like to-I'd really enjoy it. Perhaps … when I die … I'll put on my gravestone: 'Well, I've wanted to do this for a long time."
Scene 4
Warwick Bar. Ray's getting ready to catch a movie and it seems appropriate that the movie is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. In the meantime, he's acting a little giddy.
RAY: "I'm not a great drinker. That's why I get drunk. One drink and I get tipsy. I like pubs but that's only because I like the people who go to pubs. But I'm really professional. I work 24 hours a day. That's why sometimes I like to say, 'I'm doing nothing tonight, I'll be a zombie. ' I'll read a book, watch a film."He leaves the table to telephone some-one named Yvonne. It seems appropriate to finally ask him the Question. Ray has said that he likes short women with long legs but he has also declared that his "ideal date" would be Chartlon Heston.
INTERVIEWER: "Ray … are you … gay?"
RAY (laughs, then quite seriously): "It's like my agent said to me after we put out a song called 'Dedicated Follower of Fashion' in 1966. My agent came up to me and said, 'Ray-are you queer?' I didn't know I was writing that sort of song. I don't mind gay people, people who aren't gay, people who are unhappy, people who are happy-they can all come to our shows. Don't have to be one type of person to like our band. We even have animal lovers coming."
INTERVIEWER: "But with 'Lola,' and the limp wrist, and that stage routine-'Isn't this just the greatest ass you've ever seen?'-weren't you encouraging that image?"
RAY: "Well, it's had a hard time lately, it's not at its best, but it's still a pretty good ass, pretty good ass. Haven't had much chance to keep it in shape."
INTERVIEWER: "But your persona …"
RAY:"I don't think it's necessarily gay. I think on certain occasions, the character may be so in love with himself that he gives that appearance to an outsider. Conceit really. It's just … ."
RAY: " … my wrist is loose. 'Stay loose,' as they say."
Greg Mitchell, Crawdaddy, 1975