A Well Respected Man
|"A Well Respected Man"|
|Single by The Kinks|
|from the album Kinkdom|
|B-side||Such A Shame (Ray Davies) (US)
Milk Cow Blues (Sleepy John Estes) (Europe)
|Released||September 1965 (UK)
October 1965 (US)
March 1966 (Europe)
|Format||7" vinyl single, 45 RPM|
|Recorded||Late July/Early August 1965|
|Label||Reprise 0420 (US)
Pye Records 7N 17100 (Europe)
|The Kinks singles chronology|
"A Well Respected Man" is a song by the British band The Kinks, written by the group's lead singer and rhythm guitarist Ray Davies, and originally released in the United Kingdom on the EP Kwyet Kinks in September 1965 (see 1965 in music), but the song was released as on the album Kinkdom in the United States. The song was also released as a single in the US and Continental Europe.
"A Well Respected Man" remains one of the band's most popular and best known songs. It is one of four Kinks songs included on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll along with "You Really Got Me," "Waterloo Sunset," and "Lola".
Davies composed the song based on a negative experience with upper class guests at a luxury resort where he was staying in 1965. He crafted the song to mock what he perceived as their condescension and self-satisfaction.
Pye refused to release "A Well Respected Man" as a single because the record company wanted a song more similar to the band's raunchier previous hits. It was released as a single in the United States during October of that same year and reached No. 13. Following the success of "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", "A Well Respected Man" was also released as a single in mainland Europe in March 1966 (although pressed in the UK, it was an export-only issue).
The song also includes the word "fag," interpreted by Americans as a reference to homosexuality. However, Davies later said that this was not intended:
I had naively meant a fag to either be slang for a cigarette or, at worst, that the well-respected man had been at public school, where [he performed] the most humiliating tasks.
Music and lyrics
Musically, it marked the beginning of an expansion in The Kinks' inspirations, drawing much from British Music Hall traditions (a style which was to feature prominently on later 1960s songs such as "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" and "Mister Pleasant"). Lyrically, the song is notable as being the first of Ray Davies' compositions to overtly address the theme of British class consciousness. Indeed, the song offers a satirical commentary on the entrenched mores and conventions of the English upper and middle classes, while hinting at the frustration and casual hypocrisy that underlie this fastidiously maintained veneer of "respectability".
In popular culture
- Petula Clark recorded a French version, Un Jeune Homme Bien, which was released on the French EP Il Faut Revenir in 1965 and in 1966 on the Album Petula Clark (Petula 66 in Canada).
- The song was featured in the 2007 film Juno and in the 2010 film Love and Other Drugs featuring Anne Hathaway.
- The song can be heard during the end credits of the 2004 film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, in the Criminal Minds episode, "Normal", in the Supernatural episode, "It's A Terrible Life" and in the Homicide: Life on the Street episode, "Colors".
- The song is used as the theme tune to the Sky Atlantic sitcom Mr. Sloane and is featured prominently throughout the series.