Certain Songs #866: The Kinks – “This Time Tomorrow”

Album: Lola Versus Powerman and The Moneygoround
Year: 1970

I guess that on one level, “This Time Tomorrow” is your standard “life is tough on the road” song. After all, over an energetic folk-rock backing — I don’t think there’s even an electric guitar anywhere on it — Ray could be construed as complaining about his life on the road by claiming he has no idea where he’s going be just 24 hours later.

But “This Time Tomorrow” doesn’t really come across as complaining, more like wistfulness at the life he’s chosen, airplane noises and all.

This time tomorrow where will we be
On a spaceship somewhere sailing across an empty sea
This time tomorrow what will we know
Well we still be here watching an in-flight movie show

After all, it’s not like Ray Davies doesn’t have access to his itinerary: obviously Kinks tours were booked far enough in advance that he knew where he was going to be next month, forget about wherever he was playing tomorrow.

So I’ve always chosen to think about it in more philosophical terms: not so much about where he’s going to be physically in the future, but emotionally and mentally.

I don’t where I’m going, I don’t want to see
I feel the world below me looking up at me

I think it’s more of a “wither Ray Davies” song as opposed to a “Hello, Cleveland!” kind of song. This time tomorrow, who will I be? Who will you be?

Maybe that’s because of the wistful vocals and long sad melody line that dominates the song, or maybe because I choose to believe that the details about being on a plane just means he’s contemplating his future on a plane, and using the metaphor of travel to discuss his fears about what his future holds.

“This Time Tomorrow”

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