John Sieger
Sieger on Songs

“The World Keeps Going Round”

A Kinks classic by Ray Davies, whose songwriting skills rivaled those of McCartney and Lennon.

By - Jan 4th, 2016 12:25 pm
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Ray Davies. Photo from Facebook.

Ray Davies. Photo from Facebook.

Did I ever mention the holidays are complex? Joy and celebration, and all the wonderful year-end emotions find themselves in a tangle with a persistent SAD feeling in this music lover’s psyche. Christmas, which is now a word deployed with uncertainty — don’t want to offend believers and non-believers alike — is behind. A mixture of sweetness and exhaustion, probably shared by millions who make that day the centerpiece of the year, is still in the air for as long as the tree and decorations are up. If your holidays were less than perfect, I hope you can at least say you tried. I did.

The milestone that follows, New Year’s Eve, saying goodbye and hello within a second, should be easy… no? Life comes down to hello and goodbye every day in different ways. There are the memories of people lost over the last year. I’ve got a list — who doesn’t? I came on a recent night in very pensive state. I had been at another memorial, this one for Carol Alvarez, the wife of Marc Revenson, a folk singer and instrumentalist known to a lot of Milwaukeeans as Lil Rev. She left behind their seven year old daughter and, judging from the incredible amount of people at the synagogue where the service was, a lot of friends and family who were celebrating a bright light that is no longer. She was all of 47 years old.

The night before that, I held my nephew’s newborn son and chatted amiably with his adorable six year old daughter. It was the kind of holiday scene Hallmark aspires to. But that was tempered by the fact my older sister went in the hospital on Christmas Eve and is battling some very serious problems. The usual yo-yo ride the holidays represent for me has been especially up and down this year. Still, where bright lights and tinsel fail me, somehow music always comes through.

At the end of the day, you have to realize there are no brakes on this big, ever revolving machine carrying us through space. Letting go of the controls, even when you are sure they are imaginary anyway, isn’t easy. Then I thought of “The World Keeps Going Round,” this great and simple song by The Kinks.

Ray Davies wrote it when he was 20 years old. I know because, well,  someone added that comment to the Youtube video and I’m taking their word for it. The lyrics seem to encapsulate the dilemma of choosing what to feel, if indeed, that is a choice. And they do it in such a sly way, it makes me feel better, somehow.

You worry ’bout the sun
What’s the use of worrying ’bout the big ol’ sun
You worry ’bout the rain
The rain keeps falling just the same
You worry when the one you need has found somebody new

But the world keeps going round
The world keeps going round
You just can’t stop it
The world keeps going round

You worry ’bout yourself
What’s the use of worrying now you’re almost grown
You worry ’bout your own
What’s the use of worrying ’cause you’ll die alone
Times will be hard, rain will fall
And you’ll feel mighty low

But the world keeps going round
The world keeps going round
You just can’t stop it
The world keeps going round

Times will be hard, rain will fall
And you’ll feel mighty low

But the world keeps going round
The world keeps going round
The world keeps going round
The world keeps going round
The world keeps going round
The world keeps going round
The world keeps going round

(Shortened to eliminate repetition)

© Ray Davies

How good were the Kinks? There are plenty of people who put them at the top of the British heap. Let’s just say, the whole invasion thing sprung some very deserving groups on the world and it was top-heavy with these guys and a few more of the usual suspects. You can fill in the blanks. Nobody wrote better than Ray, or played with more sloppy gusto than this band. He could go toe to toe with Sir Paul, and, on any given day, fight him to a draw. His masterpiece is said to be “Waterloo Sunset,” a song I’m crazy about, but he was at that level again and again. My favorite is “I Go To Sleep,” both in their version and the wonderful cover by Ray’s ex-wife Chrissie Hynde. Prolific is a word that definitely applies.

With songs that were as lopsided and lovable as his smile, Ray could deliver the bad news, which is pretty much what he’s doing in this song, then make you forget your troubles and dance. An unlikely mash-up of McCartney’s sweetness and Lennon’s knowing cynicism, he and his band make me take my foot off the brake and let the world turn one more time, into a new year. I hope your 2016 is bright and sunny with just enough rain to grow some flowers.

3 thoughts on “Sieger on Songs: “The World Keeps Going Round””

  1. Lanny says:

    Great review of a great song – I first heard this as a teen living in east Africa in 1966 – off the album kinks kontroversy – to this day one of my favorite kinks albums – ray is so under rated as are the kinks all thru their career – love them till the end of my days.

  2. Christina Zawadiwsky says:

    The Kinks were absolutely great, both musically and lyrically! They should have achieved Beatles status, in my opinion.

  3. Rich says:

    Love the article…we can put “The World Keeps Goin’ Round” right up there as another underrated and more importantly, UNDERHEARD, Kinks Klassic. I think we can put the exquisitely maudlin “Sitting In My Hotel” in that category as well.
    G S T K

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