The Kinks

The Hard Way

Composed by Ray Davies

Song Review by

Given the self-referential nature of The Kinks Present Schoolboys in Disgrace, it’s unsurprising that the album includes this not-so-fond reminiscence of one of Dave Davies’s school headmasters. Davies has stated that his expulsion was for failing to attend class and that he also had been caught on the school grounds having sex with his girlfriend, so perhaps this interruption in his formal education is understandable. The real life context of the song aside, it’s one of Ray Davies’s best musical rants, with bitingly accurate lyrics set against a strong, harsh percussion beat and driving guitar riffs. Big brother Ray, who also attended the school, takes on the persona of the inflexible authoritarian. With the opening lyrics “Boys like you were born to waste…” he establishes the bigotry that is inherent in a person who believes that punishment and destruction of self-image are important elements in learning. It’s also an example of how the Kinks frequently influenced other innovative music makers. For example, you can hear echoes of the opening riffs for ”The Hard Way” in the minimalist electro-pop of Devo.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Kinks Present Schoolboys in Disgrace 1975 Universal 2:34
The Kinks' Greatest: Celluloid Heroes 1976 Velvel/Koch 2:35
One for the Road 1980 Universal
No Image 1982 Castle Music Ltd.
No Image 1984 Vestron
The RCA Years 2006 Velvel Records 2:36
The Kinks Greatest 1970-1986 2007 Velvel Records 4:39
Live in London: 1973-1977 Immortal 2:55
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