My Top 1000 Songs #264: God's Children
A longing for times gone by, and a pushback against modernity, was a frequent theme of Ray Davies' songs. And as with Kinks classics like "Village Green Preservation Society" and "Apeman," he makes these concerns literal, and almost antagonistic, in "God's Children" (off 1971's Percy album).
"Man made the buildings that reach for the sky, and man made the motorcar and learned how to drive. But he didn't make the flowers and he didn't make the trees, and he didn't make you and he didn't make me. And he's got no right to turn us into machines."
In less deft hands, it could just be a heavy-handed reactionary rant, easily dismissed with an "ok, grandpa, we hear you." But because this is Davies at his artistic peak, it's a gorgeous, stirring work, a deeply spiritual song for those of us who don't think we care for spiritual songs; and it comes tied to one of his most indelible melodies, with some beautifully understated piano and guitar interplay and compelling Davies brother harmonies in the chorus.
What's even stranger is that the song was part of a soundtrack for a film that, as far as I can tell, few (if any) people have ever seen, a short record with a few great songs ("Dreams" is another one) and some instrumental filler. It's almost like Davies modestly deemed this a lesser, inessential track he could just casually toss onto some random side project, whereas for almost any other artist it would be the greatest thing they'd ever created. Crazy.As it appeared in Percy: