So, The Kinks are a band that need little to no introduction. With humble beginnings in London with their formation in 1964, The Kinks quickly found success as another inclusion to the British Invasion wave of the US. Their first major single “You Really Got Me”, with its distinct loudness and Dave Davies’ famously distorted guitar riff, especially became an international sensation, topping the UK charts and reaching #7 in the US. Despite a later travel ban that prevented the group from playing any live shows in the States, they maintained a good amount of commercial and critical success throughout the 60s and early 70s.
Despite the dense amount of material they released through the 60s (sadly, I have never listened to a single Kinks album in its entirety), I always tend to group three early singles together as stylistically similar and definitive of the group’s early sound – “You Really Got Me”, “All Day and All of the Night”, and “Tired of Waiting For You”. After giving a quick listen to these three in succession, it’s definitely clear that one of these is not like the others. Obviously, the former two are most defined by their heavy power riffs that accompany their chant-along verses and chorus, and one could even say that “All Day” is derivative of “You Really Got Me”, in an attempt to further cash in on the similar, audience-grabbing sound. That’s not to say that both are well-deserved classics in their field, they’re just great in very similar ways – and that’s where “Tired of Waiting For You” comes in. The hi-octane power chords are replaced with softer, more jangly guitars, and the melody is more croon-along than chant-along.
Out of all of their early singles, this is probably the one that most defines the transitional line between their initial hard rock style into more melodic, lyrical tunes that defined their output in the latter parts of the decade (and perhaps the rest of their career). In terms of music, this is less like “You Really Got Me” and more like “A Well Respected Man”, “Waterloo Sunset”, and “Sunny Afternoon”. While it still remains tied to a strong, hefty guitar riff, it is a lot slower with a more profound sense of biting bitterness that highlights each line of Ray Davies’ vocal performance. Nonetheless, I’m still hesitant to place it completely on the same grounds as “Waterloo Sunset”. While some semblance of emotional maturity is beginning to sprout, lines such as “You kept me a-waiting / All of the time / What can I do?” reveal that there’s still room for growth.
I guess I’m just not the biggest fan of these kinds of cynical love songs, which attempt a mournful, pained vibe to its words but just end up sounding selfish and whiny. When Davies sings “So tired… tired of waiting for you”, I just want to hear the situation from the perspective of the subject. The speaker has certainly already decided how they feel about this other person (“I was a lonely soul… ’til I met you”), but the speaker is also the only point-of-view we’re getting. While we’re invited to sympathize, there’s also the likely chance that he’s being selfish and unwilling to accept the personal boundaries of the other person. While one could argue that this makes for a deeper, richer listening experience, I really don’t think that this was the intention. Still, listeners ate this up: this was their third US top ten single and their second UK #1. I personally find this one of their weaker singles, especially from the early bits of their career, but I guess they were due for a dud nonetheless. They certainly went on to put out some much better material anyway, so there’s no lamenting over this one.