You Really Got Me

Album: The Kinks (1964)
Charted: 1 7
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  • Kinks frontman Ray Davies wrote the lyric to this rambunctious rocker after watching girls dancing in a club. It's not the most articulate lyric, but that's the point: The guy in the song is so infatuated, all he can do is mutter at the girl how she's really got him.

    In 2015, he told Rolling Stone: "I just remembered this one girl dancing. Sometimes you're so overwhelmed by the presence of another person and you can't put two words together."

    Davies expanded on the song's inspiration during a 2016 interview with Q magazine: "I was playing a gig at a club in Piccadilly and there was a young girl in the audience who I really liked. She had beautiful lips. Thin, but not skinny. A bit similar to Françoise Hardy. Not long hair, but down to about there (points to shoulders). Long enough to put your hands through... (drifts off, wistfully)... long enough to hold. I wrote 'You Really Got Me' for her, even though I never met her."
  • Dave Davies got the dirty guitar sound by slashing the speaker cone on his amplifier with a razor blade. The vibration of the fabric produced an effect known as "fuzz," which became common as various electronic devices were invented to distort the sound. At the time, none of these devices existed, so Davies would mistreat his amp to get the desired sound, often kicking it.

    According to Dave, the amp slashing happened in his bedroom in North London when he was irate - he had gotten his girlfriend, Sue Sheehan, pregnant, and their parents wanted to keep them from getting married. Instead of doing self harm, he used the blade on the amp to channel his rage. The amp was a cheap unit called an Elpico that had been giving him problems - he decided to teach it a lesson!

    In the studio, the wounded Elpico was hooked into a another amp, which Dave recalls as a Vox AC30 and producer Shel Talmy remembers as a Vox AC10. The sound they got changed the course of rock history, becoming the first big hit to use distortion.

    Davies and Sheehan stayed apart, but she had the baby, a girl named Tracey who finally met her father until 1993.
  • "You Really Got Me" is the first hit for The Kinks. Before releasing it, they put out two singles that flopped: a cover of "Long Tall Sally" and a Ray Davis composition called "You Still Want Me."

    If "You Really Got Me" didn't sell, there was a good chance their record label would have dropped them, but the song gave them the hit they were looking for. Soon they were making TV appearances, gracing magazine covers, and playing on bills with The Beatles as an opening act. They didn't have an album out when the song took off, so they rushed one out to capitalize on the demand. This first, self-titled album has just five originals, with the rest being R&B covers - standard practice at the time for British Invasion bands.
  • The Kinks recorded a slower version with a blues feel on their first attempt, but hated the results. Ray Davies thought it came out clean and sterile, when he wanted it to capture the energy of their live shows. Dave Davies' girlfriend backed them up, saying it didn't make her want to "drop her knickers."

    The Kinks' record company had no interest in letting them re-record the song, but due to a technicality in their contract, they were able to withhold the song until they could do it again. At the second session, Dave Davies used his slashed amp and Talmy produced it to get the desired live sound. This is the version that was released. Talmy liked the original: He claimed it would also have been a hit if it was released.
  • Ray Davies came up with famous riff on the piano at the family home. He played it for Dave, who transposed it to guitar. Their first version was 6-minutes long, but the final single release came in at just 2:20.
  • The first line was originally "you, you really got me going." Ray Davies changed it to "girl, you really got me going" at the suggestion of one of their advisers. The idea was to appeal to the teenage girls in their audience.
  • The final version of the song was recorded in July 1964, with Ray Davies on lead vocals, Dave Davies on guitar, and Pete Quaife on bass.

    The Kinks didn't have a drummer when they first recorded the song a month earlier, so producer Shel Talmy brought in a session musician named Bobby Graham to play. When they recorded it the second time in July, Mick Avory had joined the band as their drummer, but Talmy didn't trust him and made him play tambourine while Graham played drums. A session musician named Arthur Greenslade played piano, and Jon Lord, years before he became a member of Deep Purple, claimed he played keyboards. Lord recalled with a laugh to The Leicester Mercury in 2000: "All I did was plink, plink, plink. It wasn't hard."
  • Released in the UK on August 4, 1964, "You Really Got Me" climbed to #1 on September 16, where it stayed for two weeks. In America, it was released in September and reached a peak of #7 in November.
  • Ray Davies is the only songwriter credited on this track, even though his brother Dave came up with the signature guitar sound. This was one of many friction points for the brothers, who are near the top of any list of the most combative siblings in rock. When they recorded the song, Ray was 22 and Dave was 17.
  • Ray Davies wrote this with the intention of making it big crowd-pleaser for their live shows. He was trying to write something similar to "Louie Louie," which was a big hit for The Kingsmen.
  • Shel Talmy, who produced this track, came to England from California and brought many American recording techniques with him. To get the loud guitar sound on "You Really Got Me," he recorded the guitar on two channels, one with distortion, the other without. When combined in the mix, the result was a loud, gritty sound that popped when it came on the radio.

    "I was using some techniques I worked out on how to get a raunchier sound with distortion," Talmy said in a Songfacts interview. "It wasn't that difficult because I had done it before in America."

    Talmy added: "It helped that Dave was as good as he was, and that he was quite happy to listen."

    Talmy later produced the first album for The Who, My Generation.
  • It was rumored that Jimmy Page, who was a session musician at the time, played guitar on this track, which the band stridently denied. According to producer Shel Talmy, Page didn't play on this song but did play rhythm guitar on some album tracks because Ray Davies didn't want to sing and play guitar at the same time.
  • Ray Davies took pains to make sure we could understand the words. "I made a conscious effort to make my voice sound pure and I sang the words as clearly as the music would allow," he said.
  • A 1978 cover of this song was the first single for Van Halen, who played lots of Kinks songs in their early years doing club shows. Eddie Van Halen spent the next several years developing new guitar riffs, and like Davies, was known to manipulate his equipment to get just the right sound.
  • The powerful rhythm guitar riff was very influential on other British groups. The Rolling Stones recorded "Satisfaction," which was driven by the rhythm guitar, a year later.
  • According to Ray Davies, there was a great deal of jealousy among their peers when The Kinks came up with this song. He said in a 1981 interview with Creem: "There were a lot of groups going around at the time – the Yardbirds, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones – and nobody had really cracked with a sort of R&B #1 record. The songs were always sort of like The Beatles. When we first wanted to do a record, we couldn't get a recording gig. We were turned down by Decca, Parlophone, EMI and even Brian Epstein came to see us play and turned us down. So I started writing songs like 'You Really Got Me,' and I think there was a sheer jealousy that we did it first. Because we weren't a great group – untidy – and we were considered maybe a bit of a joke. But for some reason, I'd just had dinner, shepherd's pie, at my sister's house, and I sat down at the piano and played da, da, da, da, da. The funny thing is it was influenced by Mose Allison more than anybody else. And I think there was a lot of bad feeling. I remember we went to clubs like the Marquee, and those bands wouldn't talk to us because we did it first."
  • The Kinks' next single was "All Day And All Of The Night," which was basically a re-write of this song, but was also a hit.
  • This has been used in these TV shows:

    The Simpsons ("The Canine Mutiny" - 1997)
    Mad Men ("The Other Woman" - 2012)
    Shameless ("Hurricane Monica" - 2012)
    Blue Bloods ("Model Behavior" - 2011)
    Daria ("Legends of the Mall" - 2000)
    WKRP in Cincinnati ("Frog Story" - 1981)

    And in these movies:

    Minions (2015)
    Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009)
    Catch Me If You Can (2002)
    The New Guy (2002)
    Hilary and Jackie (1998)
    Private Parts (1997)
    A Bronx Tale (1993)
    She's Out of Control (1989)
    Night Shift (1982)
    Over the Edge (1979)

    It also appears in the video game Guitar Hero II (2006).
  • Ray Davies recalled in an interview with NME how his brother Dave created the distortion effect on this song. Said Ray: "We stuck knitting needles in the speakers, or in Dave's case, he slit the speakers with a razor blade. In those days we played records on a radiogram so loudly that they all sounded fuzzy. We thought, 'That's a great sound,' without realizing the speakers were buggered. Everyone else was using really clean guitar sounds, so for 'You Really Got Me' we hooked a little speaker up to a clean amp and came up with thunderous, unaffected, pure power."

    In a Rolling Stone interview, Ray said that they "evolved" the sound by putting knitting needles in the speakers when recording this song. That statement prompted a rebuttal from his brother Dave, who wrote in to explain: "I alone created the guitar sound for the song with my Elpico amp that I bought. I slashed the speaker with a razor blade, which resulted in the 'You Really Got Me' tone. There were no knitting needles used in making my guitar sound."
  • One of the many things the Davies brothers disagree on is the Van Halen cover. Ray loves it. He told NME it is his favorite Kinks cover. "It was a big hit for them and put them on a career of excess and sent them on the road. So I enjoyed that one."

    Dave Davies is not a fan. He told Rolling Stone: "Our song was working-class people trying to fight back. Their version sounds too easy."
  • The Who played this at many of their early concerts. Their first single was "I Can't Explain," also produced by Shel Talmy with a sound clearly borrowed from "You Really Got Me," as Pete Townshend played a dirty guitar riff similar to what Dave Davies' did.

Comments: 39

  • John from ChicagoIt's funny though with you tube you can watch all the old music shows. Shindig, American Bandstand, hullabaloo, and all the British shows. Every time the Kinks are on doing you really got me or all the day and all of the night, every time its time for the guitar solo the cameras pan to the dance floor. I've never actually seen him play the solo's. So I' a little suspect. If anyone know better I'd like to see it.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 23rd 1965, the Kinks performed "You Really Got Me" on the ABC-TV program 'Where The Action Is' (see next post below)...
    On the same 'Action' show they performed "Set Me Free", and at that time was at its highest peaked position, #23 (for 1 week), on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 20th 1965, the Kinks performed "You Really Got Me" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    Four months earlier on September 20th, 1964 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on November 22nd, 1964 it peaked at #7 (for 3 weeks) and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on September 10th, 1964 it reached #1 (for 2 weeks) on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    The group's next charted release, "All Day and All of the Night", also peaked at #7 on the Top 100 (they also performed it on the same 'Shindig!' show)...
    Their next released record, "Tired of Waiting for You", peaked at one position higher than the above two records, it reached #6 (for 2 weeks) on April 18th, 1965...
    R.I.P. Jimmy O'Neil (Shindig's host, 1940 - 2013).
  • Geoff from London, United KingdomProducer Shel Talmy confirms Jimmy Page played rhythm guitar on this song. See extensive August 2012 interview here
  • Paul from Garrett, Ky, KyMusic lovers everywhere, if you cling to any doubt that Dave Davies stabbed and choked those first four strings of his Harmony Meteor or, later, Guild Starfire, just listen to the wonderful "I Need You." This song, very much in the style of the Kinks' first two, growling hits, was recorded sometime later and features the same guitar sound and a wonderful, almost out-of-control instrumental break that leaves no doubt that it is a product of the same tortured youth that played on the previous songs. I mean, it is ludicrous to suppose that Mr. Page was called back months later to do "I Need You." Seriously, give "I Need You" a good listen. It's wonderfully raw and full of the same almost obscene style that characterizes early Kinks. If it had been released instead of "You Really Got Me" as the Kinks' first "growly guitar song" the Kinks would be just as famous and important to rock music as they are today. Thanks for listening. Paul in old Kentucky.
  • Markshark from Denver, CoThe Jimmy Page/Dave Davies kontroversy is one of Rock's all-time great paradoxical myths, and will (hopefully) likely never be reconciled with any degree of certainty. My own preferred observations: A) Taking nothing away from Dave Davies, I NEVER heard anything else from him - neither recorded nor live - that came within spitting distance of this original primal solo. Can I picture in my imagination, Dave hysterically wailing away on his G string as Ray hollers inspiration, YES - a most gloriously entertaining scenario! B) Take a close listen and it is apparent there are several rhythm overdubs during this deliciously chaotic anthem; I definitely hear a high-strung guitar (Jimmy's twelve?) on there, as well as other supportive tracks; these are easily discernable as dedicated stereo tracks, so it would seem to be a well-calculated production of carefully-crafting studio artists. There is a LOT more happening on this recording than a casual pedal-to-the-metal listen would reveal. C) My preference is to subscribe to the belief there is a gentleman's code which dictates Dave get the credit for this solo, whether deserved or not (how could he not deserve it - his mother's knitting needles into the Little Green Amp were a demented stroke of absolute genius, without which there would not exist a most necessary link of the chain toward Hard Rock). I find it particularly refreshing in this age of vindictive retribution, that Dave/Jimmy have the good nature and common sense to let sleeping "dogs" lay; I think it's all far more interesting and enjoyable to be left guessing about what really went down on that historic track! The raw uncontrolled sound and musicianship of this record grants its rightful presence among the most essential productions of prototypical Hard Rock, if not THE prototype! Without this recording, Van Halen would not have gained the recognition it garnered from its cover of this tune at their particular point in destiny. BTW, the Van Halen cover IMHO succeeds in building upon/artfully translating a great rock classic; if you can't stand Van Halen's copy, then dig up some of Dave's more modern live renditions, he gives little away to Eddie's accomplished virtuosity!
  • Rahul from Chennai, India1964??????? wtf..i can't believe it..... this definitely has that hard rock feel that rock songs on the 80s n late 70s...whoa.... like somebody said here..this song is definitely way ahead of its time.....
  • Derek from Worcter, Mathis was the first song i learned to play on guitar
  • Duke from Colorado Springs, CoIt is a shame the Kinks did not talk to the ventures, as they were the first group to use the Fuzz sound in 1962.

    In 1960, a Nashville session musician, Grady Martin, accidentally stumbled upon the fuzz sound during a recording session for Marty Robbins' "Don't Worry 'Bout Me", due to a faulty guitar amplifier. The fault was soon reproduced by an electronic circuit, which was first marketed as the Model FZ-1 under the "Fuzz Tone" brand name and gien to the Ventures In 1962. It would have save the kinks a lot of amplifiers not to mention stupidity.
  • Scott from Lewisburg , TnI hate Van Halen's version... I am a big fan of Van Halen but not when they or any band does a remake it just ruins it
  • Vic from Knoxville, TnIs it me, or do the original recordings of classic songs like this possess a sort of magic that just can't be recreated in subsequent sessions or covers?
  • Alan from Syracuse, NyAhh, back to the days when credits were very disputable. If Jimmy Page says he didn't play on "You Really Got Me", I'd be inclined to believe him. Regarding credits...Back in those days credits almost never appeared on the records. In fact, written records of credits were seldom kept. Many musicians were paid in cash and never credited. Quite often, a musician who did cut a track may rightly believe they are on the release, yet most of these musicians know their sound and can tell or sense if it really is them on the release. All studio players in dispute could have cut a track but that doesn't mean it was used for the release. Sometimes pieces of different players' tracks were seamlessly spliced into one through many areas of a song. In those days, tape was manually cut and spliced. Today, software does all that.
  • John from Dundee, United KingdomI remember seeing the Kinks live on TV(yes, we had loads of live performances on UK TV in the 1960's,Melody Maker poll shows,Student's Balls, Ready Steady GO etc.) and on that evidence, would doubt that Dave Davies was capable of playing these solos(You Really Got Me / All day and All of the Night"). I had only just heard of Jimmy Page in these days but always understood that he played the solos. He was only a couple of years older than Dave Davies but had an enormous amount of experience. He played on "Baby Please Don't Go" by Them (Van Morrison) and was rumoured to have also played the solo on "Hold Me" by PJ Proby as well as countless other sessions eg."As Tears Go By" (Marriane Faithful).
  • Lester from New York City, NyMott the Hoople does an instrumental version of "You Really Got Me" on their first album. Mick Ralphs handles the guitar work very nicely.
  • Street Strategist from Hong Kong, Hong Kong"You Really Got Me" is number 10 in the list called "Sounds at the Speed of Music: 50 Rock Anthems at 100 kph"
  • Jon from Tucson, AzThe Kinks' version of this song is much better than Van Halen's! I always hear the Van Halen version on the radio, unfortunately.
  • Caleb from Christchurch, New ZealandOf course he could, that person was just silly. Though it does seem amazing that they were so young. Anyway according to Ray's autobiography X-Ray, Jimmy Page played 12-string rhythm guitar on some of their songs but not this one. And it was "All Day And All Of The Night" that he laughed at Dave's solo, which Ray thought was very arrogant of him.

    Anyway, this song invented hard rock.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScDepending on how early dave started playing the guitar, I think it's entirely possible he could have played the solo at 17 years old.
  • Paul from Sacramento, CaJimmy Page has always, ALWAYS, denied playing on this song. He played as a session musician during the album track recordings for the Kinks first album recorded a few weeks after You Really Got Me was released (August 1964), but not on this song. One of the most persistant urban myths in all of rock.
  • Rob from Vancouver, CanadaAs to whether or not Davies could do the solo at the young age of 17, Van Halen was 17 when he did his.
  • Rob from Vancouver, CanadaWas sung by 'Jimmy' in the movie Quadraphenia.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaSo did George Harrison, David.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, Cathis is way ahead of it's time.
  • Joey from Nowhere Land, CaI'm trying to decide if I like The Kinks better or Van Halen when it comes to playing this song.

    Well, usually in my opinion, the original version is better, so I guess I like the Kinks version better
  • Stig from Southern Alberta, CanadaI once saw an interview with Ray Davies where he told the story of Jimmy Page coming in from another studio /after/ the song was already recorded and laughing at the guitar solo. Ray was quite irritated many years later that Jimmy Page would try to take credit for it.
  • Collin from Midland, TxI am pretty sure Jimmy Page played rythm guitar on this song... I'm not sure what websites I found that on, but it was on several. The Van Halen version is pretty awesome also.
  • Andy from Arlington, VaInducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • Einar Kvaran from Dixon, NmI am checking out the discographies of drummers Graham and Cattini and there is a lot [too much, in my opinion] of overlap. I am looking for clairification, so pitch in if possible. Einar Dixon, NM, USA
  • David from Northampton, EnglandChris, Swansea - Why isn't it possible that Dave Davies played the amazing guitar solos at such a young age of 17? I myself started learning to play guitar at age 8 and it is totally feasable that Dave started early as well. Especially with such a talented older brother as Ray Davies being about!
  • Chris from Swansea, WalesJimmy Page played on all the early Kink's records, including their first LP. Dave Davies, who was only about 17 at the time, could never have played solos the quality of 'Beautiful Delilah' or 'You Really Got Me' for instance.
  • Nalo from Shawnee, KsFrom the Ray Davies Autobiography - II X-RAY"

    "I had heard Bobby Graham playing on other records and was bowled over by his style & power, he added a tidiness and a dimension to our sound. On the session for 'You Really Got Me' when Dave played the opening chords, Bobby Graham forgot the complicated introduction he had planned, and just thumped one beat on the snare drum with as much power as he could muster, and for the next three minutes he was one of us. After the take Graham smiled and started to pack up his kit so that he would be out of the way when we did the vocals. He knew that we had done something special' OK where does that leave drummer Clem Cattini on lead tamborine??
  • Nalo from Shawnee, KsP.S. to my comments below...of the 1000 songs big Jim did session work on including at least 3 Kinks songs, Big Jim Sullivan also played on several Donovan song's including Hurdy Gurdy Man, Sunshine Superman.
  • Nalo from Shawnee, Kswho really played in the session? It is becoming a crowd. It is very likely Big Jim Sullivan did. He was a legondary session guitarist, and played on -You Realy Got Me Kinks 13/08/64 Pye, All Day & All Over the World Kinks 29/10/64 Pye, Tired fo Waiting For You Kinks 21/01/65 Pye. To verify Big Jim played, check out-- he played on at least 1000 songs for many folks and is still playing.
    Also, what about the drummer? Was it Bobby Graham on drums as stated above? according to Clem Cattini who is a legend in drumming terms, Clem was on drums. He has appeared on 45 number one hit singles in the UK including---6/ "You Really Got Me" The Kinks. To verify check
    Clem also played on Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy man, also on some T-Rex songs such as, Get it On, (better know as Get it On Bang a Gong in the US), Telegram Sam, and HOT LOVE. Many session players never got credits that is certainly a fact.
  • Joel from Arlington, VaRay Davies (Born in 1944) was not 22, but 20 when You Really Got Me was recorded in September 1964.
  • Craig from Madison, WiThis song is everything a rock song should be.
  • Roberta from Lawrence, KsLooking at the Jimmy Page discography...he played on the session that produced the LP The Kinks, and definitely played guitar on "I'm A Lover Not a Fighter." He contributed guitar parts to several other songs on the LP, but no one is quite sure which ones.
  • Rae from Sydney, AustraliaI am not sure how true this is, but Jon Lord from Deep Purple supposedly did session work on Piano/organ/keyboard on 'You Really Got Me'...
    though this source mentioned that Jimmy Page did session work with the Kinks too...
  • Lee from London , EnglandBobby Graham was the top session drummer in the UK during the 60's.He is rumored to have played on 15000 tracks and over 100 hits.Turned down the chance to tour US with the Beatles when Ringo Starr got ill.Rerecorded this song with Ray Davies 4 years ago.
  • Jude from Db, CaRyan Starr covers this on "American Idol"
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