“Bored” is enunciated like the end of each couplet in Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians’ “Balloon Man.” Much like the latter, the trax centers on staging an example. (Unlike Hitchcock, it’s not concerned with identity production and explosion.) Alternating between first and third person limited, we witness the staging of ennui. Malformed embodiment: “skin like dirt” that’s both “sun kissed” and “burnt.” Neither actively pursuing nor straying far from whiteness. Overdriven instruments and vocals sound primarily in the midrange. Shared nostalgia for dissatisfaction, reanimating the realization that “life’s a chore.”
From humble origins in Idaho, the little band that could makes good in the world, through sheer power of earnest pleading to radio stations to “play our record.” Homespun, twangy. Then Dick Clark arrives. And: “Come to think of it, our business manager’s our biggest fan.” Charting the fall into the market. But, following Shershow, a false nostalgia for popular culture’s “original” outside position disenables meaningful politics. Legerdemain.
Key trax on The Village Green Preservation Society (1968), and one of a handful considering questions of saving and archiving the evanescent past. The trax’s impact has been muted in recent years because of its frequent, celebratory use in Hewlett Packard ads. What can still be heard, however, remains bracing: the photograph is designed to “prove” to “poppa” in his old age that he and “momma” “loved each other a long ago.” And Ray Davies is even clearer in the album’s last trax, “People Taking Pictures of Each Other,” where amateur photo fans also seek “to prove that they really existed” and “that they mattered to someone.” None of the above, of course, can be proven by snapshots of family and friends, and that’s part of Davies’ point: the personal photo involves a kind of nostalgia for nostalgia. Added to the archive as a “picture book,” however, such artifacts are mute until questioned and turned into “facts” (see Ricoeur’s History, Memory, Forgetting). What, eventually, will the “picture book” prove? We can’t yet imagine all the possible questions, but Davies suggests a serious psychological reversal: your incessant shutterbugging is itself the shadow of a doubt.