The Village Green Preservation Society

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"The Village Green Preservation Society"
The Village Green Preservation Society Single.jpg
Single by the Kinks
from the album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
B-side"Do You Remember Walter?"
ReleasedNovember 1968
RecordedAugust 1968
GenreFolk rock, pop rock
Length2:49
LabelReprise
Songwriter(s)Ray Davies
Producer(s)Ray Davies
The Kinks US singles chronology
"Starstruck"
(1969)
"The Village Green Preservation Society"
(1968)
"Victoria"
(1969)

"The Village Green Preservation Society" is a single by the English rock group the Kinks. Written by Ray Davies, the song is a nostalgic reflection on cultural English "village green", country, and hamlet lifestyle, and references many different characteristics and features of it, such as Tudor houses and draught beer. At the same time, it speaks negatively of modern, industrial traits, such as office blocks and skyscrapers.

As the opening track of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, it sets the theme for the majority of the rest of the album. It is also, according to AllMusic, the best-known track from the album.[1]

The song has been part of the Kinks' live setlist. The song inspired the band's slogan, "God Save the Kinks".[1]

Background[edit]

Written by Kinks frontman Ray Davies, "The Village Green Preservation Society" was written as an ode to the things Davies treasured. Davies explained in 2018, "As 'The Village Green Preservation Society' is supposed to be about things I want to preserve, I thought I would try that song. Virginity is sacred. You only have it once. That innocence—and it's a thing to treasure. I still search for things that I do for the first time."[2]

"The Village Green Preservation Society" was a late addition to the album, having been written with the purpose of being the album's title track.[3] With this song, Davies wanted to sum up the Kinks' general sentiment of preserving the past that appears throughout the album; he wrote in a 1968 interview, "Somebody just mentioned to me that the Kinks do try to preserve things—we are all for that looking back thing. I thought it would be a nice idea to try to sum it up in one song. All the things in the song are things I'd like to see preserved."[4] Davies later called the song "an affectionate acknowledgement of our culture."[5]

In another interview, Davies explained of the origin of the song's cultural references, "The people in it are all characters I liked as a kid or people my family could relate to, like Old Mother Riley and Mrs. Mop. Because I used to love listening to the BBC Light Programme on Sundays, like Round the Horne with Kenneth Williams. A time when the population was allowed to be trivial."

Of the song's political meaning, Davies said, "It's not right wing, but if I recorded it now, I'd probably be thrown off Question Time. I wouldn't be allowed on television, would I?"

Reception[edit]

"The Village Green Preservation Society" generally received positive reviews. Rolling Stone magazine praised the song's vocals and stated that "the tune, the rhythm, are more of a delight with each verse".[6] AllMusic's Stewart Mason felt that the song was "one of Davies' sweetest creations", but felt that it is overrated and not as successful lyrically as 1967's "Autumn Almanac".[1]

The song was the second single released in America from The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (the first being "Starstruck"), but it did not chart.

Album appearances[edit]

Studio albums

Live albums

  • The Kinks at the BBC
  • To the Bone
  • Live in London: 1973–1977

Compilation albums

Personnel[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered by folk singer Kate Rusby and appears as a bonus track on the album Awkward Annie in 2007. This version was recorded as the theme for BBC TV sitcom Jam and Jerusalem.

Ray Davies himself recorded a version with the Crouch End Festival Chorus for the 2009 album The Kinks Choral Collection.

A cover version by pop singer Natalie Merchant appears on her compilation Rarities (1998–2017), released in 2017.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Stewart Mason. "The Village Green Preservation Society - The Kinks | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  2. ^ Davies, Ray. "On Its 50th Anniversary, Ray Davies revisits the Kinks' "The Village Green Preservation Society': Virginity". Magnet. Alex Mulcahy. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  3. ^ Miller, Andy (September 2003). The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society. Continuum. ISBN 9780826414984. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  4. ^ Dawbarn, Bob. "Looking Back with the Kinks". Melody Maker via Facebook. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  5. ^ "12 Page Special! We choose the Top 12 best Kinks songs for Q's Classic Songwriter to pick apart for your delectation". PressReader. Q Magazine.
  6. ^ Paul Williams (14 June 1969). "Village Green Preservation Society | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d "AllMusic review".