"Art Lover" as written by and Ray Davies....
Sunday afternoon there's something special
It's just like another world
Jogging in the park is my excuse
To look at all the little girls

I'm not a flasher in a rain coat,
I'm not a dirty old man,
I'm not gonna snatch you from your mother,
I'm an art lover
Come to daddy,
Ah, come to daddy,
Come to daddy

Pretty little legs, I want to draw them,
Like a Degas ballerina
Pure white skin, like porcelain,
She's a work of art and I should know
I'm an art lover
Come to daddy,
And I'll give you some spangles

Little girl don't notice me
Watching as she innocently plays
She can't see me staring at her
Because I'm always wearing shades
She feeds the ducks, looks at the flowers
I follow her around for hours and hours
I'd take her home, but that could never be,
She's just a substitute
For what's been taken from me
Ah, come to daddy, come on

Sunday afternoon can't last forever,
Wish I could take you home
So, come on, give us a smile
Before you vanish out of view
I've learned to appreciate you
The way art lovers do,
And I only want to look at you


Lyrics submitted by jayphelps321

"Art Lover" as written by Ray Davies

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Art Lover song meanings
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18 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentHere is the passage directly from Creem Magazine. This is Ray Davies talking;

    Let's talk about "Art Lover". That song is ambiguous in the same way that "Lola" was. At first, it sounds like it might be about some sort of pervert, but I think there's a lot more going on there.

    I had great trouble when I first ran through that song in the studio with the guys. I gave them a chord sheet, and they were really pissed off by this time because we'd already done something like 15 tracks. They said, "Oh fuck. He's not going to do another track!" And I said, "Just play the chords." I looked at their faces when we did the playback. First of all, they were just worried about what they were playing. The second playback, they listened to the words, and they looked like "What the fuck's he writing about?" I originally had put in a line that said something like "Sunday parents with their kids knowing they're just alone" which made it, obvious that it was about someone who was divorced and only had his kid on a Sunday. So I left it out because I wanted to leave the song ambiguous. I think ambiguity is a good tool, a good weapon I used it in songs like "Waterloo Sunset". And I think it just about works because it says "I'm not a flasher in a raincoat." One of the reasons they're not putting it out as a single in England is because the BBC has said there's a flasher in a raincoat, but it says "I'm not a flasher." So it does sound like a pervert to begin with, but I think it does work in the end and you realize what the song's about.

    It's a good song. It's a sad song. And I'd love it to be a single. I wouldn't care if it bombed and died a death because I believe in that song so much
    robsunon July 28, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a first person song done from a paedophile's perspective.

    Ray is also saying that artists use a lot of dodgy sexual overtones in their work, but we let them off because it's art. The narrator here is stalking a little girl around a park and using the excuse that he only wants to paint her. He may well be a paedophile, but the listener does feel rather sorry for this man, because the song sounds so innocent and is done with such pathos.
    pandatronicon April 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always thought that it was supposed to sound like a paedophile, but at the end you find out that a little girl was taken from him
    "she's just a substitute for what's been taken from me"
    So to me it sounds like his daughter died, and he can't get over it. So he watches the little girls to fill the void of having lost his daugther.
    futurelookslikeon May 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTotally agree with futurelookslike. Either his daughter died or he lost her in a divorce, but he does what he does not for sexual reasons, but because he misses her so much.
    no springson January 31, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Ray is also saying that artists use a lot of dodgy sexual overtones in their work, but we let them off because it's art."
    I agree with that, and i think its true.
    I don't think the song is written from a paedophile's perspective, because the person is not attracted to the girl nor is he doing it for sexual reasons, he's simply saying that she's a work of art.
    "he watches the little girls to fill the void of having lost his daughter."
    I also agree with that.
    comedancingon September 20, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI do think it's about a kinda paedophile. The way Ray sings it and the mention of pretty legs and pure white skin just really screams paedophile to me.
    Of course, the guy doesn't consider himself a paedophile, and fools himself that he is only an art lover.

    I'm not sure about the "she's just an substitute for what's been taken from me" line, but I'm not convinced it's actually about his daughter. And even if it is, maybe he felt sexually attracted to her?
    GeneralAppoon April 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think "she's just a substitute for what's been taken from me" refers to his own youth. This is totally about pedophilia, veiled by art appreciation. He's rationalizing.
    artsluton July 26, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst, is everybody from England? I'm in the USA where we spell it "pedophile". Second, I am pretty sure the narrator of this song is not a pedophile. Why? Because the APA (American Psychiatric Association) defines "pedophilia" as "a condition in which a person either has intense sexual urges towards children, and experiences recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about children that they have either acted on, or cause distress or interpersonal difficulty." The narrator may well be sad bordering on pathetic but he fails the official criteria. When I see an attractive young woman, I notice her, go away, and that's the end of that. (As I am a monogamous and faithful husband, the same goes for women of any age.) But I digress. Good songs are frequently vague. Ray Davies is a great songwriter and Art Lover is one of his best.
    chasbasnikon April 23, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentRay says it right in the song. I'm NOT a flasher in a raincoat. I'm NOT a dirty old man. He definitely is NOT a pedophile in this song. It's a very ambiguous song about a guy who has lost his daughter, either to death or divorce or something of that nature. Watching the little girls in the park reminds him of his child.

    I remember reading an interview with Ray Davies in Creem magazine where he was explaining that the BBC wanted to ban the song because they thought it was about pedophelia. He told them that was not the case and that he explicitly says in the song that he has no evil motives.

    Once you get to the end it's a pretty straight forward sad song. There is really no double or hidden meaning.
    robsunon May 14, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAlso, when you look at art you basically look at it from afar. You look at it and admire it. This is what he is doing to the little girl. He is admiring her the same as he would a piece of art. Hence the title of the song.
    robsunon May 22, 2010   Link

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