What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect you?
It was a piece of film I saw on TV when I was really young, a documentary about Big Bill Broonzy [called Low Light and Blue Smoke]. A lot of these blues artists, as well as jazz musicians, came to Europe in the Fifties, because they couldn’t get work in America. This film was made when Broonzy was on tour in Belgium, and it’s just him playing in a club. It’s a fifteen-minute film of him playing three or four songs, and it really affected me and influenced what I wanted to do with my life. Here was a man who grew up in Mississippi, went to Chicago, and came to Europe. It showed me that music can make you travel and everybody can make something—it doesn’t have to be peculiar to where you’re from. He started off in Mississippi, and he was relating to an audience in Belgium. He certainly connected with me. It was the same with me, in London, with `Waterloo Sunset’ and `Well-Respected Man’—very English songs—but they translate to the American world. It shows how music can travel and be universal.
Ray Davies has written some of the most iconic rock songs of all-time and helped lead the British Invasion with his band, The Kinks. His new CD, See My Friends, finds him collaborating with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, and Lucinda Williams on Kinks classics such as "You Really Got Me" and "Lola." The disc also includes the late Alex Chilton's final recording, a spirited romp with Davies through "Til the End of the Day."