A famous and crazy story about the Kinks’ “Lola” is the fact that Ray Davis had to make a roundtrip from New York to London and back to redub the word “Coca-Cola” with"Cherry Cola" in order to please the BBC that didn’t want to promote a trademarked company in their programs. Now “Lola” was released in June 1970. The Beatles’ “Come Together” had been released as a double A side with “Something” only mere 8 months earlier, with the line “He shoot Coca-Cola” intact. Why wasn’t that an issue with the BBC?
Says here that ‘Come Together’ was apparently a step too far. The lyrics, which contained, “he shoot Coca-Cola” was seen as advertising and was thus banned by the BBC.
Ah thanks, that’s interesting, and I wouldn’t have thought. It became a hit nonetheless, but then the Beatles had a different standing than the Kinks (above all others, that is). It surprises me though that the Kinks hadn’t learned from the banning of “Come Together”, and I can’t imagine they didn’t know about it, given how interconnected the British pop scene was at that time.
Idle thought - were the Beatles half expecting this to draw a ban, hence the decision to release it on a double A side (so the other side could be used for radio play)?
Also, I wonder if Ray Davies even considered that, in 1970’s England, the record company would say ah, yes, a song about a transvestite - let’s make that the next single. Maybe Ray just never saw that there could possibly be a problem? (Though perhaps that’s just moving responsibility one step up (or down) the food chain.)
That’s an interesting question: According to wiki:
So the initial plan was to release “Powerman” as the leading single for the album, but we don’t know if the label or the band turned that to “Lola” (of course, the final decision must have been with the company. A band at the mercy of the industry was the central theme of the album).
Interesting that Davies said “Lola” was an attempt to write a hit. Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround was a rock opera, and “Lola” is a cut that’s exactly where the band in the narrative gets a hit single.
This story just gets weirder - so Ray claims that, in 1970 England, his attempt to write a hit led to a song about an encounter with a transvestite, which would inevitably be banned, and so should never have been released - but it was - and then it was banned, but because of the Coca Cola thing instead - but it was still a hit…
According to an interview in the (NY) Times, it was banned but they quickly made a version with cherry cola which was not banned. Now homosexuality was illegal in England at this time, and I doubt that the narrator went back to Lola’s to look at her frocks, so Davies seemed rather amused that the BBC didn’t seem to get what was going on in the song.
He also said that the inspiration was when a member of the band took a lady back to the hotel, and discovered that she had stubble in the morning.
I suspect it got through because of the ambiguity of the lyrics.
I’m glad I’m a man
And so is Lola
Which can be construed as either
“Lola is a man”
“Lola is glad I’m a man.”