When Dave Davies walks into a room, the atmosphere shifts, a sense of excitement becomes palpable. Few bands have made as big an impact on rock ‘n’ roll as The Kinks, the band Davies formed with his brother Ray Davies in 1964, to the point where it’s safe to say that there wouldn’t have been the Gallagher brothers or Damon Albarn or Jarvis Cocker, or most of Britpop for that matter, without them. From “You Really Got Me” to “Sunny Afternoon” to “Lola,” the Kinks’ catalog reads like a blueprint for the rock and pop that emerged from Britain in the 1960s.
Dave Davies, the Kinks’ lead guitarist, is sometimes regarded as the second Davies, with Ray having done much of the songwriting, but his contributions to the classic Kinks sound are manifold. To name a few, he wrote the iconic two-chord riff to “You Really Got Me,” as well as Kinks favorites like “Rats” and “Death of a Clown.”
His crowning achievement as a songwriter, though, is probably the beautiful “Strangers,” from 1970’s Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One. Never released as a single, the song was neglected by mainstream audiences in favor of the hit “Lola,” but its timeless lyrics (“Strangers on this road we are on / We are not two, we are one”) and singalong melody have earned it a special place in the hearts of music lovers over the years. “Strangers” was featured prominently in Wes Anderson’s 2007 film The Darjeeling Limited, along with “This Time Tomorrow” and “Powerman.” Notable artists who have covered “Strangers” include Norah Jones, Feist and Lucius. But nothing beats the original.
On Monday, Paste was honored to host Dave Davies in our New York Studio, where he played a solo version of “Strangers” as well as a new song, “Path Is Long,” from Open Road, his new collaborative album with his son, Russ Davies.
If hearing “Strangers” has you feeling nostalgic for more Kinks classics, you can find more gems like this 1972 live recording of “Waterloo Sunset” in the Paste Vault.