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“This Is Where I Belong”—Identity, Social Class, and the Nostalgic Englishness of Ray Davies and the Kinks

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Among the artists and groups in the vanguard of the “British Invasion” of North America in the period 1964–67, perhaps none more consistently represented, and to a major extent consciously played up to, stereotypical notions of “Englishness” than the Kinks. As the '60s gave way to the '70s, the band's music, and Ray Davies's songwriting in particular, focused increasingly on close, wry, and sometimes satirical observations of English society, manners, and class structure, culminating in a series of concept albums which worked through Davies's obsession with identity. In this article, I examine the tensions inherent in Davies's representation of a particular sense of English identity—caught between tradition and modernity, between nostalgia and realism, and between competing senses of class and nation—in short, his construction of an imagined community that might have been “England,” or some portion thereof, at some moment in time, in which even he might feel he could belong.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-05-01

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