Stagflation Appreciation

It is May 11, 2021. We’re looking at a Middle Eastern conflict, the early hints of inflation and, as I write this, a new gas crisis. Welcome to stagflation.

If you’re of a certain age and you’re getting sudden spasms of anxiety, well, welcome to Carter 2.0, aka: President Joe Biden. It’s not your fault – you’re suffering from “malaise.” We’re all feeling it.

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Yes. Though it’s too early to tell, this thing could just be a hiccup. I truly pray so. But if symptoms persist longer than four years consult your doctor and dust off the album that truly captured the spirit of the first Carter Administration: The Kinks – “Low Budget.”

Low Budget – 1979

Ray Davies, the lead singer, main songwriter and founder of the Kinks brought Pete Townshend’s sensibilities to rock music. Like Townshend, and very much unlike Mick Jagger, Davies and Townshend both tried to elevate the genre to be more artistic and expressive. But Davies also had a depressive and fatalistic slant to his music. That theme dominates so many Kinks songs and concept albums. So what a better choice to write a period piece reflective of the Seventies?

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Right off the bat, the title track, “Low Budget,” sets the tone.

Circumstance has forced my hand
To be a cut price person in a low budget land
Times are hard but we’ll all survive
I just got to learn to economize

Here’s one you can enjoy when you’re in line for a pump.

It’s a fun blues riff that sings a dirge for his big, gas guzzling Cadillac.

Other very period-specific tunes are “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” about an America in decline, “National Health” about the British healthcare service and “I Wish I Could Fly Like Superman.”

So enjoy “Low Budget” by The Kinks . . . and enjoy the euphonic malaise of a decade we all hope we’re long past and will never see again.

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