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Lola

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"Lola" is a song written by Ray Davies and performed by The Kinks. The song details a romantic encounter between a young man and a possible transvestite or transgender person he meets in a club in SohoLondon, with the narrator describing his confusion towards a person named Lola who "walked like a woman and talked like a man".

Released in June 1970, in the UK on the 12th and in the USA on the 28th, the single was taken from the album Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One and reached #2 in the UK charts and #9 in the US.[1] It was ranked 422nd on the List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Inspiration[edit]Edit

In the book The Kinks: The Official Biography, Davies said that he was inspired to write this song after the band manager Robert Wace had spent the night dancing with a transvestite. Davies said,

In his apartment, Robert had been dancing with this black woman, and he said, 'I'm really onto a thing here.' And it was okay until we left at six in the morning and then I said, 'Have you seen the stubble?' He said 'Yeah,' but he was too pissed [intoxicated] to care, I think.

In his autobiography, Dave Davies said that he came up with the music for what would become Lola. After Dave had shown his brother the music, Ray came up with the lyrics. Dave went on to say his brother took all the credit for the song.

The original song recorded in stereo had the word "Coca-Cola" in the lyrics, but because of BBC Radio's policy against product placement, Ray was forced to make a six thousand mile round-trip flight from New York to London—interrupting the band's American tour—to change those words to the generic "cherry cola" for the single release.

The success of the single had important ramifications for the band's career at a critical time, allowing them to negotiate a new contract with RCA Records, construct their own London Studio, and assume more creative and managerial control.

Live single[edit]Edit

A live version of the song, recorded in 1979 in Providence, Rhode Island, was released in the US in July 1980 to promote the live album One for the Road. The B-side was the live version of "Celluloid Heroes". The single was a moderate success, reaching #81 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also released in some countries in Europe (although not the UK) in April 1981. It was a big hit in the Netherlands, matching the #1 peak of the original version, and in Belgium where it reached #2. It also charted in Australia. Although not released as a stand-alone single in the UK, it was included on a bonus single (backed with the live version of "David Watts") with initial copies of "Better Things" in June 1981.

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (1970)

(original recording)

Peak

position

UK Singles Chart 2
Austrian Singles Chart 2
Dutch GfK chart 1
Dutch Top 40 1
Irish Singles Chart 1
Italian Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 4
US Billboard Hot 100 9
Chart (1980/1981)

(live version)

Peak

position

Belgian Singles Chart 2
Dutch GfK chart 1
Dutch Top 40 1
US Billboard Hot 100 81

Cover versions[edit]Edit

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