Kinks – Picture Book

The guitar riff to this song is one to remember. When I heard Green Day’s song “Warning”I knew where they got the inspiration for their song.

Ray Davies wrote this about the nostalgic feel that comes from looking through photo albums. The song was originally written for a planned Davies solo project, but he  relented and let The Kinks take a shot at it. It was recorded in May 1968 and released that November  The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.

Davies, who also acted as producer, wanted the sound of the album to reflect its old-fashioned themes. He wanted it more low-fi.

The song was an album track but The song gained a new popularity when it was used on a Hewlett-Packard 2004 commercial promoting their digital cameras and printers that featured numerous “Pictures Of You” superimposed with each other.

Dave Davies: “Halfway through ‘Picture Book,’ I was trying to do a bit of jazz improvisation like Jo Stafford,”  “You can almost hear Ray mimicking or singing across it, ‘scooby-dooby-doo,’ poking fun at what I was saying. That was quite a spontaneous album.”

From Songfacts

Along with Village Green‘s closing track “People Take Pictures of Each Other,” this song uses photography to drive home the album’s concept about holding onto and appreciating the past. “There’s more value in an old picture than there is now on iPhones,” Ray Davies told Rolling Stone in 2018. “I know a guy. He’s homeless and I chat with him sometimes in the street. He’s got a picture of his family in his pocket, and he’s always got a picture with him, he says, ‘For when things get really low'” (pause) “It’s all gotten cheaper because of iPhones.”

The vocal harmonies for the Village Green Preservation Society album were worked out by Ray Davies, Dave Davies and Pete Quaife round the piano. Dave Davies has fond memories of creating the sweet choirboy vocal harmonies to “Picture Book.”

Picture Book

Picture yourself when you’re getting old,
Sat by the fireside a-pondering on
Picture book, pictures of your mama, taken by your papa a long time ago.
Picture book, of people with each other, to prove they love each other a long ago.
Na, na, na, na, na na.
Na, na, na, na, na na.
Picture book.
Picture book.

A picture of you in your birthday suit,
You sat in the sun on a hot afternoon.
Picture book, your mama and your papa, and fat old Uncle Charlie out cruising with their friends.
Picture book, a holiday in August, outside a bed and breakfast in sunny Southend.
Picture book, when you were just a baby, those days when you were happy, a long time ago.
Na, na, na, na, na na.
Na, na, na, na, na na.
Picture book.
Picture book.
Picture book.
Picture book.

Picture book,
Na, na, na, na na,
Na, na, na, na na,
A-scooby-dooby-doo.
Picture book,
Na, na, na, na na,
Na, na, na, na na,
A-scooby-dooby-doo.

Picture book, pictures of your mama, taken by your papa a long time ago.
Long time ago,
Long time ago,
Long time ago,
Long time ago,
Yeah, yeah, yeah.