HOME      ARTIST      NEXT      PREVIOUS      CONTACT

5.25-AUTUMN ALMANAC (Kinks)

Kinks

LISTEN

From the dew-soaked hedge creeps a crawly caterpillar
When the dawn begins to crack
It's all part of my autumn almanac.

Breeze blows leaves over, mostly colored yellow
So I sweep them in my sack.
Yes, yes, yes, it's my autumn almanac.

     Friday evenings, people get together,
     Hiding from the weather.
     Tea and toasted buttered currant buns
     Can't compensate for lack of sun,
     Because the summer's all gone.

La-la-la-la...
Oh, my poor rheumatic back!
Yes, yes, yes, it's my autumn almanac.
La-la-la-la...
Oh, my autumn almanac!
Yes, yes, yes, it's my autumn almanac.

          I like my football on a Saturday,
          Roast beef on Sundays, all right.
          I go to Blackpool for my holidays,
          Sit in the autumn sunlight.

               This is my street, and I'm never gonna leave it,
               And I'm always gonna stay here
               If I live to be ninety-nine.
               'Cause all the people I meet
               Seem to come from my street
               And I can't get away,

     Because it's calling me, (come on home)
     Hear it calling me, (come on home)

La-la-la-la...
Oh, my autumn Armagnac!
Yes, yes, yes, it's my autumn almanac.
La-la-la-la...
Oh, my autumn almanac!
Yes, yes, yes...

[Coda]


I never heard Autumn Almanac when it was a single. I first heard it when it was released in the U.S. through the 1972 album Kink Kronikles. It would be their last Top 10 single on the Top of the Pops in England for a couple of years. The song was conceptualized in a manner similar to Waterloo Sunset which shares much its same tone. However, here the theme is not youthful romance but age and contentment with the late season's natural limitations. (By comparison, Paul McCartney would release two songs that romanticized old age, When I’m 64 for his dad and Your Mother Should Know in memory of his mum. But the Beatles perform these McCartney songs with more breezy humor and far less irony.)

Ray Davies during this period used irony a lot in his lyrics, but I feel the mockery in Autumn Almanac is gentle. Still the song aroused, I remember, the fear in young people of growing old and having to face physical and economic limitations. (McCartney’s When I’m 64 made the possibility of being “old” seem safely far away in the future; and Your Mother Should Know put age safely distant in the past.) Davies implies an outcome for his listeners of conforming suburbanites seeking the safety of being among others like themselves. We glimpse our gentleman gardening, warming himself with tea in chill weather. He is happy with his football on Saturday and a special Sunday dinner, and vacations in Blackpool, which I suppose is also a favorite of the neighbors. Autumn Almanac dramatizes the fear of middle class White kids in American and England that they might turn out like their parents, sipping Armagnac, a cheap cognac, grateful for modest pleasures.

The Kinks' 1967 Something Else was not a psychedelic album, and none of the Kinks songs of that year have more than psychedelic tags to put them in the right period. Were it not for the trance-like coda with its backwards tapes over the repetition of Yes, echoing Strawberry Fields Forever, this song structure could easily be mistaken as part of the repertoire of the Kinks' theatrical period in the 1970s. With Something Else, Ray Davies started to build narratives on a dramatic musical structure derived from the British music hall tradition. Musically, Autumn Almanac manages to bring together several different music "suites" (including the coda) in a way that sounds coherent. In complexity and economy of musical structure, it compares favorably with Brian Wilson's Good Vibrations.

The complexity of the message and the music of Autumn Almanac, however are poorly served by the Kinks' allusion to psychedelia in the coda. This lyric can't in any sense be about LSD or spiritual enlightenment or even about sex as a transcendental act; it's a song about old folks. It was about our parents. Psychedelia seems out of place in the world of Autumn Almanac. The best interpretation I can put on it is that the gentleman has found contentment through trance and meditation, and accepts all that happens to him. But even here, the irony of the lyrics overrun the positive "spiritual message", for most of the audience was in no mood for accepting conformity. The context of Autumn Almanac makes psychedelics and meditation seem like brainwashing, a way by which people can accept encroaching inertness.

TOP      NEXT      PREVIOUS      CONTACT