Friday, October 30, 2015

The Kinks: You Really Got Me

"You Really Got Me" is a song written by Ray Davies and performed by English rock band the Kinks. The song, originally performed in a more blues-orientated style, was inspired by artists such as Lead Belly and Big Bill Broonzy. Two versions of the song were recorded, with the second performance being used for the final single. Although it was rumoured that future Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page had performed the song's guitar solo, the myth has since been proven false.

"You Really Got Me" was an early hit song built around power chords (perfect fifths and octaves), and heavily influenced later rock musicians, particularly in the genres of heavy metal and punk rock. Built around a guitar riff played by Dave Davies, the song's lyrics were described by Dave as "a love song for street kids."

"You Really Got Me" was released on 4 August 1964 as the group's third single, and reached number one on the UK singles chart the next month, remaining for two weeks. The song became the group's breakthrough hit; it established them as one of the top British Invasion acts in the United States, reaching number seven there later in the year. "You Really Got Me" was later included on the Kinks' debut album, Kinks.

"You Really Got Me" was written by Ray Davies, the Kinks' vocalist and main songwriter, sometime between 9 and 12 March 1964. Created on the piano in the front room of the Davies' home, the song was stylistically very different from the finished product, being much lighter and somewhat jazz-oriented. Ray said of the song's writing, "When I came up with ['You Really Got Me'] I hadn't been writing songs very long at all. It was one of the first five I ever came up with."

During the spring of 1964, Ray Davies played an early version of "You Really Got Me" on piano to rock photographer Allan Ballard during a photo shoot. Ballard later remembered, "It was quite a small, pokey, Victorian Terrace, a bit scruffy, and in the hallway they had an upright piano. Ray sat down and plonked out, 'Der-der, der, Der-der!' He said, 'What do you reckon to this?' It meant nothing to me at the time, but it ended up as 'You Really Got Me'."

Ray, initially planning for the song to be a "more laid-back number", later played the chords of the song to brother Dave Davies, the Kinks' lead guitarist. However, upon hearing the track, Dave decided that the riff would be much more powerful on a guitar. Ray said of the track's change to a guitar-centered track, "I wanted it to be a jazz-type tune, because that's what I liked at the time. It's written originally around a sax line ... Dave ended up playing the sax line in fuzz guitar and it took the song a step further." The band then began to perform the new track in some of their live shows, where it was well received.

In 1998, Ray said, "I'd written 'You Really Got Me' as tribute to all those great blues people I love: Lead Belly and Big Bill Broonzy." Dave cited Gerry Mulligan as an inspiration, saying, "Ray was a great fan of Gerry Mulligan, who was in [the Jazz on a Summer's Day movie], and as he sat at the piano at home, he sort of messed around in a vein similar to Mulligan and came up with this figure based on a 12-bar blues". Dave has also said that song had been inspired by Jimmy Giuffre's song "The Train and the River". According to the band's manager, Larry Page, the song's characteristic riff came about while working out the chords of the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie". Lyrically, the song was said to be influenced by an encounter with one of the band's "first serious female fans."

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