Song of the Day #1,330: ‘Animal Farm’ – The Kinks

I’ve always looked at music appreciation as something akin to a scholarly pursuit. I feel it is my duty as a music lover to seek out the cultural touchstones that have shaped popular music over the decades.

I might not like everything I encounter, but at least I’ll earn that opinion. That’s the reason I own several Joni Mitchell albums despite my distinct aversion to listening to any of them — I had to know what I was going to be missing.

In high school I had a little plastic container of alphabetized index cards on which I wrote the names of albums I planned to one day own. These were the classic albums of the previous few decades, covering a wide range of artists and styles. I culled the list from a book of Rolling Stone‘s 1,000 essential records.

This was the late 80s and most of my exploration covered the 60s and 70s. Like most high school boys then (and maybe even now), I was obsessed with Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Who.

One of those index cards pointed me to The Kinks’ 1968 concept album, The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society. The album didn’t sell well upon its release but was a critical smash and eventually a cult hit (out-selling the rest of the band’s catalog over time).

I probably haven’t listened to it all the way through since I was a senior in high school but as I listen to today’s song, ‘Animal Farm,’ I’m not brought back to that time. Instead the distinctive Kinks sound now puts me squarely in Wes Anderson-ville, as he’s effectively and affectionately used their music in most of his movies.

This is a great sound, and it’s a great album. I’d do myself a favor to revisit some of those old index card records more often.

This world is big and wild and half insane
Take me where real animals are playing
Just a dirty old shack
Where the hound dogs bark
That we called our home
I want to be back there
Among the cats and dogs
And the pigs and the goats
On animal farm
My animal home
On animal farm
My animal home

While I lay my head upon my pillow
Little girl, come play beneath my window
Though she’s far from home
She is free from harm
And she need not fear
She is by my side
And the sky is wide
So let the sun shine bright
On animal farm
My animal home
On animal farm
My animal home

Girl, it’s a hard, hard world, if it gets you down
Dreams often fade and die in a bad, bad world
Ill take you where real animals are playing
And people are real people not just playing
It’s a quiet, quiet life
By a dirty old shack
That we called our home
I want to be back there
Among the cats and dogs
And the pigs and the goats
On animal farm
My animal home
On animal farm
My animal home
On animal farm
Animal farm

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,330: ‘Animal Farm’ – The Kinks

  1. Amy says:

    I find it fascinating that you view music appreciation as a scholarly pursuit. For some reason that comment brings to my mind what Alex says when she sees a film she really loves – usually NOT the type of film critics are swooning over – “That’s why I go to the movies,” she declares. For me, music appreciation has far more to do with the philosophy suggested by your lovely wife’s famous phrase. I can’t imagine owning music (let alone forcing myself to listen to it) just because it’s on a list somewhere, though I do look to such lists to get a sense of what might be out there (in books, movies, music, anything really) that isn’t currently on my radar. However, after a little more research (and, if possible, a listen or two), I would then determine whether “That’s why I listen to music/go to the movies/read books” applied to that particular find.

    Not sure if either this song or anything else by The Kinks, for that matter, would ever make the cut. But I still love that you had (have?) a box of index cards with your bucket list of music listed on them. In some ways, your blog may serve that purpose for me, so thanks! 🙂

  2. Clay says:

    I don’t see a contradiction between loving music and movies on a more gut level and as a scholarly pursuit.

    I look at movies the same way (and in that case, I did study film in college so perhaps it makes more sense). Hugo is more effective if you’re at least passingly familiar with George Melies and Harold Lloyd. Rango is far more fun if you’ve seen Chinatown.

  3. Dana says:

    Well, I don’t pursue music as a scholarly pursuit, but I do have a bit of that feeling Clay gets when I look at lists of best artists/albums or generally know that an artist/band has been well-regarded critically. I want to understand what the fuss is about, at least in some academic way, if not a visceral, emotional way. And sometimes, through that exploration, even where I initially don’t quite “get it,” I have found that further listening results in a better appreciation for the artist and sometimes I come around to actually really liking or loving him/her/them.

    One example that comes to mind is Led Zeppelin. I suppose I should have loved the band as a high school kid in the 80’s by osmosis if for no other reason, but I just didn’t get them from the limited exposure I had of their music. I liked “Stairway to Heaven” well enough and tolerated without outright loving “It’s Been A Long Time (Since I Rock and Rolled:). But then, while working in Vibrations record store as a freshman in college (or was it senior year in high school?), I got into a huge argument/debate with co-worker/friend Brad where he was advocating for the brilliance of Zeppelin and I just kept shrugging. A year or so later, however, when you could “rent” CDs in Gainesville, I rented (and yes copied) IV and maybe a greatest hits type collection. As I listened to songs like “Going to California,” I suddenly “got it” and, while I can’t say I love everything from Zeppelin, I do love some of it and really like a lot of it.

    As for the Kinks–I don’t know them as well as I probably should. I do remember LOVING “Go Dancing” when it was in heavy rotation on MTV in the 80’s. I was addicted to Ray Davies’ voice in that song. And I generally like much of what I have otherwise heard. Today’s song is good, and perhaps if I heard the rest of this album, i would “get” the Kinks.

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