Dedicated Follower of Fashion

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"Dedicated Follower of Fashion"
Dedicated Follower of Fashion cover.jpg
Original single cover from 1966
Single by the Kinks
B-side"Sittin' On My Sofa"
Released25 February 1966 (UK)[1]
27 April 1966 (US)
Recorded2 February 1966[1]
GenrePop[2]
Length3:05
LabelPye 7N 17064 (UK)[1]
Reprise 0471 (US)
Songwriter(s)Ray Davies[1]
Producer(s)Shel Talmy[1]
The Kinks singles chronology
"Till the End of the Day"
(1965)
"Dedicated Follower of Fashion"
(1966)
"Sunny Afternoon"
(1966)

"Dedicated Follower of Fashion" is a 1966 song by British band the Kinks. It lampoons the contemporary British fashion scene and mod culture in general. Originally released as a single, it has been included on many of the band's later albums.

Musically, it and "A Well Respected Man" marked the beginning of an expansion in the Kinks' inspirations, drawing as much from British music hall traditions as from American rhythm and blues, the inspiration for breakthrough Kinks songs like "You Really Got Me". While it was quite scornful toward them, many of the fashionistas the song mocks would later take its title to heart.

Background[edit]

In the mid-1960s fashion in Britain was becoming increasingly daring and outrageous, driven by the youth-oriented culture of Swinging London. Boutiques such as Biba, designers like Mary Quant, and the television personalities like Cathy McGowan who popularised them became celebrated as much as the entertainers who wore their mod clothes.

Fashion trends changed rapidly, and the Carnaby Street shops did a brisk business from those trying to avoid seeming out of step with the latest craze. Ray Davies saw all this and satirised the hypothetical extreme, a superficial dandy whose "clothes are loud but never square / It will make or break him so he's got to buy the best ... He thinks he is a flower to be looked at ... In matters of the cloth he is as fickle as can be."[1][3]

Inspiration[edit]

Ray Davies claimed that the song was inspired by a fight he had with a fashion designer at a party:

I got pissed off with [a fashion designer at a party] always going on about fashion. I was just saying you don't have to be anything; you decide what you want to be and you just walk down the street and if you're good the world will change as you walk past. I just wanted it to be the individual who created his own fashion. ... [It was] a terrible brawl. I kicked him, and I kicked his girlfriend up the arse.[4]

Davies claims he wrote the song in one sitting, typing the lyrics out on a typewriter, with no later revision.[citation needed] It was performed with Davies mostly accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, with the rest of the band joining in on the "It will make or break him so he's got to buy the best 'cause..." and echoing the "Oh yes he is" lines in the refrain.[3] The song contains two lines from the 1905 English adventure novel The Scarlet Pimpernel; "they seek him here, they seek him there".[5]

The band attempted recording the song a number of times, playing with the arrangement, lyric diction, and guitar sounds. Davies was never totally satisfied with the released version, and was angered that the song's production and release were rushed by the band's managers and Pye Records. Specifically, he attempted the opening multiple times. Pete Quaife said of these attempts:

That guitar clanging at the beginning, we did it over and over, changed guitars, tried it with a piano. Ray was after a sound and he didn't get it. When he realized he wasn't getting it, he took the tape, rolled it across the floor and set fire to it. The next day we started again and he settled for that. But I know he wasn't happy with the final result.[4]

At least two of the alternative versions are available as bonus CD tracks and as bootleg recordings.

"Sittin' on My Sofa"[edit]

In contrast to the commentary on the contemporary fashion scene contained in "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", the B-side "Sittin' on My Sofa" was a reflection on "Modish ennui".[6] It found its album premiere on the 1967 compilation Sunny Afternoon.

Reception[edit]

The British record-buying public enjoyed the jab at "the whole Carnabetian army" enough to put the song into the top five, reaching number four on the UK Singles Chart.[7] It became their first top five single since "Tired of Waiting for You", which reached number one in early 1965. It reached the top of the charts in The Netherlands and New Zealand. In the US, however, it barely managed to crack the Top Forty, peaking at #36.[8] The lyrics won Davies an Ivor Novello Award for songwriting in 1966.

Despite the praise for the song, Kinks guitarist Dave Davies described the song as "terrible", saying, "[it was] the one Kink record I haven't got."[9]

Billboard said the song had a "clever, music-hall melody and lyric in the bag of [the Kinks] smash 'A Well Respected Man.'"[10]

Legacy[edit]

Despite its commercial success, the song actually began to trigger some of the identity crises that would later plague Davies' personal life. He wrote later:

With 'A Dedicated Follower of Fashion' such a hit, people started coming up to me on the street and singing the chorus in my face: 'Oh yes he is, oh yes he is,' as if to say that I knew who I was. Unfortunately, my inner and somewhat distorted sense of reality told me that this was not who I wanted to be: I didn't know who I was.[11]

In subsequent years many of those the song derided would later take its title to heart. Holly Brubach, fashion writer for The New Yorker, borrowed the song's title for a collection of her essays. Outside of fashion, the song's title has remained a metaphor for slavish conformity,[12] but in a more positive sense as an analogy for the growth of online social networks.[13]

In 1993, the song was included in the soundtrack of the Jim Sheridan film In the Name of the Father.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[14] 36
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[15] 12
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[16] 45
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[17] 11
Canada (CHUM)[18] 10
Denmark[19] 2
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[20] 37
France (IFOP)[21] 68
Germany (Official German Charts)[22] 11
Ireland (IRMA)[23] 3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[24] 1
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[25] 1
New Zealand (Listener)[26] 1
Norway (VG-lista)[27] 7
Singapore[28] 4
Sweden (Kvällstoppen)[29] 6
UK Singles (OCC)[30] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[31] 36
US Cash Box Top 100[32] 59

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Dedicated Follower of Fashion Archived 2 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine at kinks.it.rit.edu, retrieved 3 May 2007.
  2. ^ Julian Palacios, Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd: Dark Globe ,(Plexus, 2010), ISBN 0-85965-431-1, p.193
  3. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 38 - The Rubberization of Soul: The great pop music renaissance. [Part 4] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  4. ^ a b Jovanovic, Rob. God Save the Kinks: A Biography. Aurum Press. pp. 110–111.
  5. ^ Professor Derek B Scott (2013). "The Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Musicology". p. 35. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
  6. ^ Fleiner, Carey (1 March 2017). The Kinks: A Thoroughly English Phenomenon. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4422-3542-7.
  7. ^ "dedicated follower of fashion | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  8. ^ Chart positions Archived 6 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, at kinks.it.rit.edu, retrieved 3 May 2007.
  9. ^ "Dave Davies talks about landmarks in Kinks history ..." NME. February 1971. Archived from the original on 10 February 1999.
  10. ^ "Spotlight Singles" (PDF). Billboard. 7 May 1966. p. 18. Retrieved 4 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Elder, Sean; 4 March 1997; "Dedicated Followers of Passion"; Salon.com; retrieved 3 May 2007.
  12. ^ Urqhuart-Stewart, Justin A.; 4 March 2006; Are you a dedicated follower of fashion? ; retrieved from londonstockexchange.com 3 May 2007. Archived 9 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Kelly, Brian; 16 March 2007; I'm a dedicated follower of fashion; retrieved from ukwebfocus.wordpress.com 3 May 2007.
  14. ^ "Every AMR Top 100 Single in 1966". www.top100singles.net.
  15. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Kinks – Dedicated Follower of Fashion" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  16. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Kinks – Dedicated Follower of Fashion" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  17. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5756." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  18. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade, week of June 13, 1966". 13 June 1966. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  19. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard. 14 May 1966. p. 36. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Sisältää hitin: Levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1960: Artistit KET - KIR". Sisältää hitin. 13 August 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  21. ^ "InfoDisc : Les Tubes de chaque Artiste commençant par K" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "Kinks" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – The Kinks – Dedicated Follower of Fashion" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts.
  23. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Dedicated Follower of Fashion". Irish Singles Chart.
  24. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – The Kinks" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  25. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – The Kinks – Dedicated Follower of Fashion" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  26. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  27. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – The Kinks – Dedicated Follower of Fashion". VG-lista.
  28. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard. 4 June 1966. p. 46. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  29. ^ "HITS ALLER TIJDEN". www.hitsallertijden.nl. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  30. ^ "Kinks: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  31. ^ "The Kinks Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  32. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 6/25/66". cashboxmagazine.com. Retrieved 18 January 2021.

External links[edit]