The Kinks — “Too Much on My Mind”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — March 5, 2023


753) The Kinks — “Too Much on My Mind”

Take a journey to the center of Ray Davies’ mind (see #100, 381, 417, 450, 508, 529, 606, 623) Alex Hopper calls “Too Much” an “underrated standout” ( and the always spot-on Rob Sheffield calls it the “best moment” . . . “[o]ff of Face to Face, one of the great albums of the Sixties. . . . an airy ballad that’s full of harpsichord and acoustic guitar, yet a vocal that’s pure dread.” (

Holly A Hughes perfectly sums up the song, and its effect on her:

Ray Davies had suffered a nervous breakdown (the Kinks had to tour Belgium and France with a stand-in); even after he returned, sporting a tentative new moustache, many concerts were cancelled and endless obsessive hours were spent in the studio. The bassist, Pete Quaife, quit; a new manager, the infamous Allen Klein, was hired. . . . Ray Davies gave us one introspective song to explain what was going on inside that messed-up head of his. . . . practically a textbook definition of introspection. . . . [H]e’s singing about his favorite subject — himself. . . . [M]y favorite line in the song [is]: “It seems there’s more to life than just to live it.” In that one line — he sweeps away carefree youth and trudges into adulthood, still feeling stung that life has tricked him. . . . Sunk in the blackness of melancholy, he sees no way out. But the tempo remains just upbeat enough; the bright harpsicord, the brisk high-hats, and the rising guitar riffs buoy the song — as if the music itself rescues him from the depths of despair. Perhaps that is exactly what happened to Ray Davies in 1966 — being able to write the kind of songs he wanted to did pull him through. And on bleak days, when this song creeps into my mind — as it always does when I’m blue — this lovely little wistful melody saves me as well. Works like a charm.

About Face to Face, Maggie Stamets says:

Coming amidst the extraordinary outpouring of great British music in the year 1966, which included the Beatles’ Revolver, the Who’s A Quick One and the Stones’ Aftermath, Ray and the Kinks more than held court with the extraordinary Face To Face, a non-stop blast of garage-pop gems replete with the Davies’ typically acid social commentary. . . . Though less well-remembered than the work of their more celebrated contemporaries, Face To Face finds the Kinks writing and innovating at a pace equivalent to even the Lennon-McCartney juggernaut. And they were just getting started.

And Stephen Thomas Erlewine says:

Face to Face [is] one of the finest collections of pop songs released during the ’60s. Conceived as a loose concept album, Face to Face sees Ray Davies’ fascination with English class and social structures flourish, as he creates a number of vivid character portraits. [His] growth as a lyricist coincided with the Kinks’ musical growth. Face to Face is filled with wonderful moments . . . . classics like “Rosy Won’t You Please Come Home,” . . . making the record one of the most distinctive and accomplished albums of its time.

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