Kinks – Celluloid Heroes

When I heard this song I loved the movie star references. Ray Davies dreaming of being a celluloid hero…not an actor but the character. One of my many favorites of The Kinks.

Ray Davies wrote the song when he visited Los Angeles, he stayed at a hotel near the Walk of Fame and was intrigued by how it represented success alongside failure.

The song was released as the second single from Everybody’s in Show-Biz but failed to chart. However, the track received consistent airplay on AOR radio stations in the US and it remains a song that is often played when these stations mark the passing of a Hollywood star.

From Songfacts

The Kinks close Everybody’s in Show-Biz, in which they examined the difference between Hollywood stereotypes and American reality, with this number about movie stars and the Walk of Fame.

Ray Davies sings here about his desire to be a movie star – not the actor, but the character portrayed on screen since those characters are immortal and invulnerable. This view reflects his rise to fame as a rock star, which while glamorous, could also be exhausting and aggravating for Davies.

The album version runs 6:21, but the single release was cut down to 4:39.

The Hammond organ on this song was played by Dave Rowberry, who is best known for replacing founding keyboardist Alan Price in the Animals. He played on many of the group’s big hits, including “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” “It’s My Life,” “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “See See Rider,” the last of which he was credited as the arranger.

Ray Davies re-recorded the song for the singer’s 2010 collection of new studio collaborations of his compositions, See My Friends. This new version featured Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi. The American band previously had recorded a live performance of the song (featuring Ray Davies) as the B-side to their 2002 single “Misunderstood.”

Celluloid Heroes

Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star
And everybody’s in movies, it doesn’t matter who you are
There are starts in every city
In every house and on every street
And if you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Their names are written in concrete

Don’t step on Greta Garbo as you walk down the Boulevard
She looks so weak and fragile that’s why she tried to be so hard
But they turned her into a princess
And they sat her on a throne
But she turned her back on stardom
Because she wanted to be alone

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain

Rudolph Valentino looks very much alive
And he looks up ladies dresses as they sadly pass him by
Avoid stepping on Bela Lugosi
‘Cause he’s liable to turn and bite
But stand close by Bette Davis
Because hers was such a lonely life

If you covered him with garbage
George Sanders would still have style
And if you stamped on Mickey Rooney
He would still turn round and smile
But please don’t tread on dearest Marilyn
Cause she’s not very tough
She should have been made of iron or steel
But she was only made of flesh and blood

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain

Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star
And everybody’s in show biz, it doesn’t matter who you are
And those who are successful
Be always on your guard
Success walks hand in hand with failure
Along Hollywood Boulevard

I wish my life was non-stop Hollywood movie show
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die

You can see all the stars as you walk along…
You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain

La la la la….

Oh, celluloid heroes never feel any pain
Oh, celluloid heroes never really die
I wish my life was non-stop Hollywood movie show
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

16 thoughts on “Kinks – Celluloid Heroes”

  1. Favorite line:

    Please don’t tread on dearest Marilyn
    Cause she’s not very tough
    She should have been made of iron or steel
    But she was only made of flesh and blood.

    There’s a single version that got a lot of airplay “back in the day” that omits a few verses and that was always disappointing to hear. This is a great early example of Ray’s growing obsession with America which continues to this day. His celebrations of the cultural & personality oddities of the UK & US are unmatched in popular music.
    I live in Hollywood and cannot walk along Hollywood Blvd without thinking about this song.
    The Kinks are the best!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I could not have summed it up better than you just did. I do remember the single version…no I want to hear all of the references.

      I’m not trying to get off topic but I want to visit Hollywood one day. The problem is the places I want to see are mostly gone… Pickfair, 512 Bedford Drive (Clara Bow’s old home)… I believe Buster Keaton’s old home is still there… A lot of history there.

      Plus the rock history also.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, thanks for asking. That night and up until around noon the next day queasiness, but with the peppermint tea it cleared up. I hope you aren’t on salary as that’s an awful lot to ask someone to come in on a weekend night to troubleshoot. Is the issue cleared up now?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m glad you are feeling better.

        Oh yes I’m on salary…but of course… I’m telling them Friday I’m taking off.
        No but we (and a thir party company) has it rigged up to get us back til our ISP provider fixes it…of course they are in no hurry.

        Liked by 1 person

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