Wednesday, 16 May 2012

'Lola' - The Kinks (1970)

"I met her in a club down in old Soho,
Where you drink champagne,
And it tastes just like cherry cola.

Every band should do this. "What, spell out the name of popular carbonated beverages in their opening verse?" No, that would just be stupid. Every band should use their songs to pitch new product ideas and test the audience's reaction. "Oh, and that’s not stupid at all?" Nope.

The much-repeated story is that the BBC asked The Kinks to change the line from ‘Coca-Cola’ to something more generic – with Ray Davies flying from New York to London to make the change mid-tour (these days he could probably just Skype it in). And so we got a wonderful promo for cherry cola a good decade and a half before the big drinks companies finally put it on the shelves of our local newsagents.

‘Lola’ is a wonderful song in many, many ways. (Yes, it has greater over-arching themes beyond fizzy drinks. It’s a ‘mixed up, muddled up, shook up world’ indeed). But every time I heard Annie Nightingale play it on her Sunday evening show, my imagination would be smitten by the thought of cherry cola. What would it taste like? (Cherry.) What would it look like? (Er, Cola.) Granted, my imagination was hardly running wild, but it stopped me thinking of ‘Star Wars’ for  a few moments.

And then it finally arrived. For the special introductory price of ten pence a can. And every school lunch-time I’d become bloated on its sickly sweet acidic charms. Today, I get stomach ache just looking at a can. But this song never loses its appeal.

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