Night Music: The Kinks, “Berkeley Mews”

I’ve been reading Zadie Smith’s novel NW, which is set in Willesden, in NW London, which reminded me of the Kinks corny country song, “Willesden Green,” and which I always imagined (because I didn’t look it up) as the locale for Village Green Preservation Society. (It turns out that isn’t true, the Village Green is really in the country, call it Devon.) Willesden is a part of London that was once kind of middle class, but is now a hodge podge of old timers and immigrants, some middle class and lots of poor. Smith’s story, similar to her fantastic first novel, “White Teeth,” is about how the old ways have been overcome by the new ways, just like the Kinks were saying 35 years ago.

Well, Chapter 6 of NW starts: “We are the village green preservation society…” and proceeds until its end as a collage of Kinks lyrics, which got me to thinking of this song, Berkeley Mews, which I know from the odds and sods and some hits compilation double elpee, The Kinks Kronikles. I’ve always liked the tempo changes and the way that it rocks when it wants to, plus the catchy lyric, “I stagger through your shitty dining room, but I don’t blame you, I don’t blame you.” Still, it’s certainly of the post-rock Kinks era.

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