See My Friends

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"See My Friends"
See My Friends cover.jpg
Single by the Kinks
B-side"Never Met a Girl Like You Before"
Released
  • 30 July 1965 (1965-07-30) (UK)
  • 29 September 1965 (US)
Format7-inch single
Recorded3 May 1965[1]
StudioPye, London
Length2:44
Label
Songwriter(s)Ray Davies
Producer(s)Shel Talmy
The Kinks UK singles chronology
"Set Me Free"
(1965)
"See My Friends"
(1965)
"Till the End of the Day"
(1965)
The Kinks US singles chronology
"Who'll Be the Next in Line"
(1965)
"See My Friends"
(1965)
"Well Respected Man"
(1965)

"See My Friends" is a song by the Kinks, written by the group's singer and guitarist, Ray Davies. Released in July 1965, it reached number 10 on the UK Singles Chart. The song incorporates a drone-effect on the electric guitar, reminiscent of the Indian sitar and tambura.

Although writer Jonathan Bellman sees it as the first Western rock song to integrate Indian raga sounds (released four months before the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)").[2] Davies biographer Johnny Rogan notes that a preceding single release ("Heart Full of Soul" by the Yardbirds) was "pre-empting Davies's innovative use of Indian music".[3]

The song is sometimes mistitled "See My Friend", because this is how the song was identified on the initial UK single pressing. However, the website of Kassner Music,[4] which owns the publishing rights to the song, specifies the title as "See My Friends",[5] and these are also the words Davies clearly sings throughout the track. Most subsequent issues of the song have borne the more familiar "See My Friends" title.

Background[edit]

Ray Davies has been heard to say the song is about the death of his older sister, Rene, who lived for a time in Ontario, Canada. Upon her return to England she fell ill owing to an undiagnosed hole in her heart and died while dancing at a night club. Just before she died, he has said, she gave him his first guitar for his 13th birthday.

Inspiration for the song came from a stopover in Bombay during the Kinks' 1965 Asian tour, where the jetlagged Davies encountered fishermen chanting on their way to their morning work.[6]

Shel Talmy, who was the producer of the record "See My Friends", says in different interviews that the song had been inspired by Jon Mark.[7][8][9]

Recording[edit]

Kinks biographer Doug Hinman provides some detail on the recording sessions at Pye Studios, London:

Monday 3rd [May 1965] ... the band returns to Pye to re-record "See My Friends", first tried at the April 13th–14th sessions. The issued "See My Friends" exhibits a good deal of tape hiss, due to multiple overdubs and running the recording through a compressor for effect. The song features Ray or Dave on a 12-string guitar, played close to the amp to achieve the droning feedback effect.[10]

Release[edit]

Ray Davies, at the time of the song's release, expressed disappointment at the single's lukewarm reception, saying "[It's] the only one I've really liked, and they're not buying it. You know, I put everything I've got into it ... I can't even remember what the last one ["Set Me Free"] was called – nothing. It makes me think they must be morons or something. Look, I'm not a great singer, nor a great writer, not a great musician. But I do give everything I have ... and I did for this disc."[11]

Covers[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hinman 2004, p. 62: "'See My Friends' single ... Recorded A: Pye Studios (No.1 or 2) central London; A: May 3rd 1965."
  2. ^ Bellman 1998.
  3. ^ Rogan 2015, p. 221: "... at the beginning of June. The Kink's latest rivals, the Yardbirds, had just released their follow-up to the chart-topping 'For Your Love'. 'Heart Full of Soul' was another thrilling record, this time pre-empting Davies's innovative use of Indian music. Only a month before, he had recorded a new composition, 'See My Friend', which had an unusual raga effect, but the Yardbirds had got there first."
  4. ^ "Kassner Music: Kassner Associated Publishers". Kassnermusic.com. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Kassner Associated Publishers Ltd". Kassnermusic.com. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  6. ^ Bellman, Jonathan (1998). p. 294
  7. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Shel Talmy Folk-Rock Interview". Richieunterberger.com. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  8. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Shel Talmy Interview Part 2". Richieunterberger.com. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Shel Talmy Part Two". Spectropop.com. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  10. ^ Hinman 2004, p. 55.
  11. ^ Hinman 2004, pp. 64.

References[edit]

External links[edit]