I wasnâ€™t going to see Ray Davies when he came to town this time. I know that sounds nuts. But itâ€™s been a long slog, more than three years since we turned on the cameras to start filming DO IT AGAIN and frankly, with the baby and the house and the regular job, Iâ€™ve been swamped. The PBS run has been wonderful. It has also required endless hours of extra work. Sorry, Iâ€™m whining. But Iâ€™m trying to explain why, after literally begging Ray to watch the film for more than a year and then meet with me â€“ all for the purpose of creating a DVD I can share with you â€“ Iâ€™ve sometimes found it hard to just sit in the crowd and cheer. Then, a few weeks ago, word came from London that Ray might be willing to meet and chat about potentially approving DO IT AGAIN for DVD release. (For those of you unfamiliar with the arcane world of music licensing, I need his thumbs-up.) As instructed, I over-nighted a DVD to him in New York. Then I slapped down $77 for a seat in the balcony of the Wilbur and waited. And waited. There were moments I almost felt encouraged. A fellow journalist told me that he asked Ray about the movie during an interview and was told that he had the DVD. But whether Ray watched it or not, weâ€™ll never know.
Because gig night came and still no word from London on a meeting. It was frankly kind of depressing leaving the family at home on Thanksgiving Eve and heading into Boston on my own. I decided to bring a bag of DO IT AGAIN buttons and let folks know Iâ€™d be at Jacob Wirthâ€™s before the show. Once there, I found a surprising number of people who had seen DO IT AGAIN and wanted to say hello. Then Frank Lima (aka Dan the Fan) texted me telling me he was over at the Rock Bottom. I headed over there and encountered some of the superfans, many of them on their fourth or fifth or eights gig of the short tour. I also ran into complete strangers who, again, had seen DO IT AGAIN and wanted to say nice things. I realized that this was probably the only night in which I might be a pseudo-celebrity. By now, my London contact had told me to try to hook on with Frank. Why not? Frankâ€™s got Rayâ€™s cell number on his phone. He had tickets for the front table. Heâ€™s also been kind about DO IT AGAIN, trying to get Rayâ€™s attention about the film. We left it open how we might proceed post-concert.
The show? I was impressed. Ray played a wonderful version of â€śWaterloo Sunsetâ€ť and â€śNothin’ in the World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl.â€ť He seemed in wonderful spirits. The set with the choir surprised me. At times, Rayâ€™s voice was overwhelmed by the many singers. But at other times â€“ I think of â€śShangri-Laâ€ť â€“ the choir added a depth and richness. I do wish Ray would have thrown at least a couple of â€śWorkingmanâ€™s CafĂ©â€ť songs into the mix, but you canâ€™t play everythingâ€¦
Then, the wait. Frank called as soon as the lights went down and told me to sit tight. Then, he disappeared. I hung with the superfans, first out front until it got too cold, then at the Rock Bottom. Frank wrote, told me he wasnâ€™t in yet. I talked to TA. and Frank Reda and Michelle Pedretti (from Italy!). We each got a drink. Frank wrote again. This time, he had been able to get in but Ray was already taking off. He had to get the bus to Toronto.
It was all sort of depressing, though Iâ€™m not sure why. We made a movie which weâ€™re proud of. It appears lots of folks have seen it. The film is going to continue to be on PBS stations â€“ the Philadelphia Inquirer just called to arrange an interview in advance of our mid-December screenings. And I got to see Ray playing a killer set list and seemingly healthy and in good spirits. Sure, itâ€™s disappointing that I canâ€™t get the film out on DVD so you folks â€“ the fans â€“ can see it more easily. But the DVD/download issue is one of access, not revenue. Iâ€™ll never make money off DO IT AGAIN. I just want to share.
Which gets me to what happened two days later.
It was my birthday last week. I turned 41. So just after getting blown off my Ray, I get a package in the mail from western Massachusetts. The Muswell Hillbillies bought a 45 of â€śDo It Againâ€ť and each member of the band signed the sleeve. They also included a ticket to their Dec. 23 â€śfarewellâ€ť show. (I honestly hope it isnâ€™t farewell, which is why I put quote marks around the word.) I immediately went online and purchased a second ticket for Carlene. She should be there, too.
I donâ€™t know what it was about that package. It was theoretically just a record. But if felt like more. It reminded me of when I was having trouble with Paul McCartneyâ€™s manager and Lila and I were walking to the beach on a summer morning and she said, â€śwho cares about Paul McCartney. Heâ€™s in every movie.â€ť At that moment, I could suddenly let Paulâ€™s footage go.
Not that Rayâ€™s off the hook. I still intend to nag and plead and work out something so I can get you all DVDs of DO IT AGAIN. But I care a lot more about a bunch of people I do know â€“ my extended Kinks family â€“ sending me a thoughtful gift on my birthday than a brilliant, eccentric, artistic stranger (and rock hero) blowing me off on a Wednesday night.