Lola: A Controversy

Welcome to the first edition of Speaking of Things that Rule…  I had the chance earlier this week to talk with my father, Andy Miller, about The Kinks’ song “Lola.”  First, let me start off by saying, The Kinks totally rock.  The album Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneyground is, what I consider to be, the Kinks’ masterpiece.  It combines all the fun of The Kinks rock n roll with some really great subtle songwriting from Ray Davies and some pretty hilarious concept album material.

Alright, onto the real matter.  The song “Lola” has upset me and Andy for several years because of some hasty and controversial interpretations of the song’s lyrics.  Popular opinion would lead one to believe that the character, Lola, portrayed in the song is a man dressed in woman’s clothing–a transvestite, if you will.  However, if you really investigate the lyrics, it is quite easy to prove that Lola is, in fact, a woman.  Now, it is very possible that Lola is not a… good looking woman.  One could probably describe her as an Amazon.  Andy compared her to Maude, A.K.A. that one chick from Golden Girls.

Here is a link to the lyrics of “Lola” for your reference before we delve http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/kinks/lola.html

The first description we get of the character Lola is that she has a “dark brown voice.”  This is easily dispelled as evidence toward her manliness by looking at the myriads of famous “hot” actresses with dark alto voices.  On a completely unrelated note, if champagne did actually taste like cherry cola I could guarantee my dissent into alcoholism.

In the second and third verses, we get a few interesting accounts.  Lola hugs the narrator of the song and it nearly breaks his spine, then she picks up the narrator and puts him on her knee.  First of all, tall, strong women are not uncommon.  Just because Lola is strong she is automatically a man?  Shame on you.  

Second, the narrator must be a small dude.  Andy describes him as a “muppet or sock puppet.”  I mean, if a hug nearly breaks your back, you are probably Mickey Rooney.  And not young, chipper Mickey Rooney.  I am talking Night at the Museum Mickey Rooney.  And not the Night at the Museum Mickey Rooney that has youthful strength because of a magic ancient artifact.  Just the regular old man one.  The point is, the fact that Lola is taller and stronger than the narrator certainly does not make Lola a man.  Just look at Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett.

Alright, here is a popular one for the folks who insist Lola is a man.  “She walked like a woman and talked like a man.”  This phrase can be interpreted in many ways.  This could be another reference to her “dark brown voice.”  Andy brings up Demi Moore or Debra Winger as prime examples of walking like woman and talking like a man.  This phrase could also refer to looking like a woman, but acting like a man.  It is a pretty commonly used phrase when referring to women who think about sex like men do.  Like that one chick from that episode of house that had testicles on the inside of her belly so she was all sex-driven and she took off her medical robe.  It was a pretty wild ride.  Another valid interpretation of “talking like a man” could be that she talks about sports, beer, having gas, or other traditionally masculine conversation topics.  Really, to use this one line as the core of your argument that Lola is a woman is rather weak.

Here is the big one.  This lyric is considered the trump card for the people who claim Lola is a man: “Well I’m not the world’s most masculine man but I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man and so is Lola.”  So, here’s the deal.  The way the sentence is organized is rather ambiguous.  Grammatically, the clause “and so is Lola” is a modifier.  This clause could be interpreted as “I am a man and so is Lola” as is the common belief, OR it could be interpreted as “I’m glad I’m a man and so is Lola” meaning that Lola, too, is glad that the narrator is a man.  Some of you reading this probably think this is a bit of a stretch, but modifiers usually refer to the subject and verb of the sentence which, in this case, is the narrator and his gladness that he is a man.

In conclusion, there is one lyric in particular from “Lola” that completely dispels the notion that Lola is a man.  It is as follows: “Girls will be boys and boys will be girls it’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world EXCEPT for Lola.”  Lola is the one person in the world the narrator is sure of.  There is no doubt that she is a woman.

Huge thanks to Andy Miller for hashing through the lyrics of “Lola” with me, and if you haven’t listened to the album Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneyground please go do so as it is excellent!  Have a great week!

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