Picture Book (song)

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"Picture Book"
Single by The Kinks
from the album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
Released8 January 1969 (US single)
RecordedMay 1968
Songwriter(s)Ray Davies
Producer(s)Ray Davies
The Kinks US singles chronology
"Picture Book"
"The Village Green Preservation Society"

"Picture Book" is the third track from The Kinks' album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. Written by Ray Davies, the song looks back at pictures in a picture book. The song also saw a single release as the B-side to "Starstruck" in multiple countries.


"Picture Book" is a song about looking through a photo album,[3] where pictures of "you in your birthday suit" and of "your mama and your papa, and fat old Uncle Charlie out boozing with their friends" are found.[4] Reportedly, Davies had the idea for the musical theme of the track prior to writing it.[3] Initially, the track was intended by songwriter Ray Davies to be used in a solo project, but, in May 1968, the track was recorded by The Kinks.

Drummer Mick Avory removed the snares from his snare drum on the recording. He said of the event, "On ... 'Picture Book' I took the snare off just to get a different sound."[5]

Sometimes I think about songs as tracks: "I'm going to write a track." The whole magic of that track is that 12-string guitar and the snare drum with the snare off. It's the way Phil Spector used to work—he had his sound and wrote songs to fit that sound. I'd like to go back and do more of that.

— Ray Davies[3]

Release and reception[edit]

The track was released as the B-side of "Starstruck" in the U.S.[6] (but in Australia, it was the A-side[7]), and as the B-side of The Village Green Preservation Society in Denmark.[8] The Kinks performed the song twice on BBC TV, on Colour Me Pop in July 1968, and Once More With Felix in January 1969. Though not a common feature of their live set, in was briefly made a set regular in 1973, and would later be played live occasionally by Ray Davies solo in the 21st century.

In 2004, the relatively obscure track was used in a television commercial for Hewlett-Packard digital imaging products.[4] "It was perfect for that commercial," Davies said. Ray Davies said that he "always knew that song would have its day." He went on to say that "sometimes you just know. It was never a hit, but it’s become a hit in another way."[3] The track also serves as the title track to the compilation album Picture Book.

AllMusic praised the track, saying that it "takes the skewed nostalgia of its parent album and sets it to one of Davies' best tunes of the era" and that it was "one of the rocking ones on the relatively sedate album."

It has been noted that the song's main guitar riff bears strong resemblance to punk songs later released, most notably "Warning" by Green Day.[9]



  1. ^ AllMusic: "[Picture Book] is one of the rocking ones on the relatively sedate album"
  2. ^ https://www.billboard.com/amp/articles/columns/rock/8485865/the-kinks-are-the-village-green-preservation-society
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Hutchinson, Lydia (21 June 2012). "Ray Davies on "Picture Book"". Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b Mason, Stewart. "AllMusic". Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  5. ^ Miller, Andy. Kinks' The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.
  6. ^ "Rate Your Music "Starstruck"". Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Rate Your Music "Picture Book"".
  8. ^ "Rate Your Music "Preservation Society"".
  9. ^ Fowles, Paul; Wade, Graham (23 February 2012). Concise History of Rock Music. Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 9781619110168.