"20th Century Man" as written by and Ray Davies....
This is the age of machinery,
A mechanical nightmare,
The wonderful world of technology,
Napalm hydrogen bombs biological warfare,

This is the twentieth century,
But too much aggravation
It's the age of insanity,
What has become of the green pleasant fields of Jerusalem.

Ain't got no ambition, I'm just disillusioned
I'm a twentieth century man but I don't want to be here.
My mama said she can't understand me
She can't see my motivation
Just give me some security,
I'm a paranoid schizoid product of the twentieth century.

You keep all your smart modern writers
Give me William Shakespeare
You keep all your smart modern painters
I'll take Rembrandt, Titian, Da Vinci and Gainsborough,

Girl we gotta get out of here
We gotta find a solution
I'm a twentieth century man but I don't want to die here.

I was born in a welfare state
Ruled by bureaucracy
Controlled by civil servants
And people dressed in grey
Got no privacy got no liberty
'cause the twentieth century people
Took it all away from me.

Don't want to get myself shot down
By some trigger happy policeman,
Gotta keep a hold on my sanity
I'm a twentieth century man but I don't want to die here.

My mama says she can't understand me
She can't see my motivation
Ain't got no security,
I'm a twentieth century man but I don't want to be here.

This is the twentieth century
But too much aggravation
This is the edge of insanity
I'm a twentieth century man but I don't want to be here

Lyrics submitted by planetearth

"20th Century Man" as written by O Pihl Gary Sammy Hagar

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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20th Century Man song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentMakes me wonder what Ray thinks of the world now that the digital age is here. The internet, social networking, iPods, cell phones. And he thought the 70s were bad. Ray's generation were the first ones to have to deal with life as we know it now, in fact people's every day lives and culture were radically different before and after WW2 (to a degree I can not even fathom). Advertising, television, radio, popular music, interstate highways, affordable automobiles, the rise of the cities and fall of the country, even suburbs and housing developments. Wasn't happening before the Boomers came to be. How many times a day do you hear music? (all day long, right? how weird is that? imagine if you had to rely on [expensive] records and stereo systems. or before the '50s when hardly anyone listened to recorded music and had to hear it live) How many times a day do you see an advertisement? Travel more than 3 miles from your home? Purchase a product made by a corporation worth billions of dollars and is available everywhere? It must have driven some people crazy having to deal with all of these changes at once, the modernization of the western world. People used to have quiet, simple lives, until the last 50 years. Anyway that's what Ray is on about. If you like when he covers this theme in Kinks songs then definitely check out Grandaddy, especially the album Sophtware Slump, it picks up where this song leaves off and is completely awesome.
    enjoymywaffleson July 06, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song deserves to have a whole bunch of comments. Muswell Hillbillies is a pretty good album, but this first song is incredible. This is one of the best portrayals of modern day fatigue and weariness, the absurdity of war, the onslaught of technology and the loss of humanity and everyday emotion that I've heard. It's about how the hustle and bustle of this day and age swallows the individual. You lose your ambition, your privacy, your liberty. People are aggravated and disturbed by the loss of empathy and the rise of war and technology. The quainter times are lost and desperation sets in.

    That's what I get from these lyrics. A sense that time is swallowing up your soul and you're losing in the insanity of modern times. I'd very much like to cover this song. It's a powerful social comment on the flaws of modern living and the fragility of the human condition. It's about the abuse of power and resources to crush the individual.

    'I was born in a welfare state
    Ruled by bureaucracy
    Controlled by civil servants
    And people dressed in gray'

    - This part is so wonderfully melodic and epic, and shot through and through with weariness. Sounds like he's given up on life, he's got nowhere to go in this society, but then at the end he's fighting back and screaming 'This is the twentieth century. But too much aggravation!!. There's life left in him, he'll fight back.

    This song is amazing.
    mrpieeateron September 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmrpieeater pretty much spoke my mind. I also can't beleive more ppl don't comment on this song, it's addictive as hell.

    I also love the guitar in this song. It's unique sounding and is a good exmaple of how versatile their sound is.
    BobDylan23on May 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthe accomplishes more lyrically in this ONE SONG than thom yorke has done in HIS ENTIRE CAREER
    spmuzikon September 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI saw this live in Brighton a couple of years ago at a Ray solo show, so glad he played it, I was massively into this album at the time, and he also played Oklahoma, USA :o)

    I just love the Englishness of The Kinks, they've got this great blues riff going on, played with so much rock and roll passion, yet he's singing about going back to previous times, "I'll take Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Titian and Gainsborrrrooooooouuuuuugh!"

    Such a great riff, and great fun to play on guitar too (always the sign of a good song), and the bridge section is just beautiful, neither major or minor to start, just kind of dissolves into a feeling of numbness at how modern life has dragged him down continually, then slips into a minor key with "Got no privacy, got no liberty..." before rocking back into the riff for the final push.

    One of the all-time great opening tracks on any album, you have to give it a listen.
    FishesWillLaughon March 09, 2010   Link

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