Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lazy Sunday #120: "Victoria, 'toria!"


"Long ago life was clean
Sex was bad and obscene
And the rich were so mean
Stately homes for the Lords
Croquet lawns, village greens
Victoria was my queen
Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, 'toria"

While the rest of Northern Hemisphere has to tough it out for another month, this weekend marks the official beginning of Summer in Canada. Think of it as a kind of seasonally adjusted rate for a country that doesn't get as much Summer as most.

The May 24th Weekend is affectionately known as "May 2-4" here, meaning you pick up a 24 case of beer and head to the cottage, lake, beach, woods, whatever and drink all of it while setting off enough fireworks to traumatize the dog until you ignite the next barrage on July first.

Officially, the weekend is set aside to honor Queen Victoria even though, despite being Queen longer than anybody ever, she never once dropped by to visit.

But then, that's us, friendly and forgiving to a fault; as well as open to any excuse to get drunk and play with explosives.

If you have never visited Canada but would like us to name a three day weekend after you, just let me know and we'll light the fuse.

During one lost V-Day weekend in my youth, I remember baking on a beach while learning the chords to a song called "Victoria" because it seemed like a fitting anthem for the occasion. 

And it was -- "Victoria" was written by Ray Davies of "The Kinks" as the opening track to their 1969 concept album "Arthur (or -- The Decline and Fall of The British Empire)". And of course, Ray, whacked as he was (is), decided to open his story at the height of Britain's empire in celebration of its prudishness and paternalism.

"I was born, lucky me
In a land that I love
Though I am poor, I am free
When I grow I shall fight
For this land I shall die
Let her sun never set
Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, 'toria"

I LOVED "The Kinks" when I was growing up. I don't know exactly why. They came off as about the most pointless band you could imagine trendy and too serious about music teenagers embracing. Their own Musicians Union BANNED them from touring North America at the height of the "British Invasion" because they were just too damn rowdy onstage.

And their musical evolution was almost beyond comprehension. The distorted electric riffs of their first hits "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night" gave way to lilting ballads like "Waterloo Sunset" and "Sunny Afternoon" before taking a sharp left turn from "Lola", a song about transvestites, to bizarre Music Hall tinted social commentaries like "Well Respected Man" and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion".

But the Kinks were also infectiously fun, subversive with a great guitar hook and blessed with the kind of gentle humanity you'll find in "Come Dancin' " , probably the best song ever written about dating.

So for me, this weekend always includes the following lyrics…

"Canada to India
Australia to Cornwall
Singapore to Hong Kong
From the West to the East
From the rich to the poor
Victoria loved them all
Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, 'toria"

C'mon, it's only fitting --- the woman was married to a guy who had a dick piercing named after him. You know she had a few Kinks of her own.

And probably liked fireworks too!

Enjoy "The Kinks" and Enjoy Your Sunday. (Plus Monday if you live in Canada).

No comments: