The Kinks “The Way Love Used to Be”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — April 17, 2022

417) The Kinks — “The Way Love Used to Be”

David Levesley rightly calls “The Way Love Used to Be” “one of the[ Kinks’] most beautiful songs . . . . The[y] loved songs about dreams of a better place and this is a perfect example.”  ( As Barry Lenser describes:

[The song] is a ghost classic mainly due to its . . . appearing first on the soundtrack to Percy . . . and then two years later on The Great Lost Kinks Album, an odds-and-ends collection that was discontinued in 1975 after Ray Davies initiated legal measures against Reprise Records. What circumstance (or otherwise) has cheated listeners of is a gorgeous chrome-hued elegy from one of pop music’s high priests of nostalgia. Against a plaintive guitar, downcast piano, and swelling strings, Davies delicately articulates a vision of innocence: escaping the bustle of modern city life . . . to a misty locale where he and his companion can merely discuss how love was once understood and practiced. The whole affair is steeped in dignified melancholy and romanticism. In other words, “The Way Love Used to Be” is a very British creation, but it ain’t rock ‘n’ roll. . . . Here and elsewhere, the Kinks defied the tastes and tendencies of the counterculture and the mainstream orthodoxy that followed.

And Holly Hughes captures it perfectly:

“The Way Love Used to Be” may not sound like a Kinks song, but it’s still simply gorgeous. It isn’t just the orchestral arrangement that’s unusual (the Kinks never got hooked on string quartets like some bands did); its tender quality is something Ray Davies rarely employed on Kinks records. . . . [It[ has all the hallmarks of a Ray Davies song — the secret handshake, if you will. There’s the yearning to escape . . . the nostalgia for times past . . . the horror of modern civilization . . . . Although Ray sings it with a tremulous flutter, for once it doesn’t sound campy to me — no, it’s wistful and yearning, not hiding behind a scrim of irony. Yes, the arrangement is old-fashioned, like something from the 1940s or early 1950s, with a pillow of strings and delicate classical accents. It’s movie music, pure and simple . . . . But I get the idea that Ray loves old movies . . . . So what was a song like this doing in a movie about the comic adventures of a man with a penis transplant? I swear, it would almost be worth watching Percy to find out. Almost.

I think I’m gonna have to watch Percy!

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