It seems to be in the deep nature of people to make some kind of pilgrimage at some point in their lives. It could be somewhere they have never been but has deep importance to them, such as a religious trip to Jerusalem for those deity-following-types, or somewhere from your long-ago past, like a birthplace or a battleground. It is part of trying to put things in perspective, to give identity and order, and to answer questions. A trip to a mecca comes with the expectation of some kind of revelation, that some kind of unresolved something will be answered in you by the end of the journey.

But not all pilgrimages are of a serious nature, as I was reminded by today's little piece by Geoff Edgers:

As a fellow Kinks fan, I too visited the London landmarks he mentions in the article. Rock 'n Roll was my religion, and at this point in my life, as I turned 20 there, I was trying to figure out why that was, why music was so important to me. I had spent my whole life listening to the songs of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Hollies, the Who, but no band of the time painted more of a vivid picture of London, and of English life, than the Kinks. Ray Davies was able to exquisitely detail little aural miniatures of a place of gritty familiar pubs, 2-up 2-down semi-detached homes in neat red-bricked rows,nattering middle-aged ladies jittery from constant cups of warm milky tea, dark loud music clubs with skinny runaway girls and debauched young upper-class boys with pockets filled with purple hearts, green quiet hills overlooking the sprawl of a changing London, of an Empire, or the idea of an Empire, and the everyday people that made up the heart of it. I wanted to see for myself what it was, where this came from, to see if it all had the same resonance and charm and depth as I stood there, in the middle of the story itself.

I made my way around London on the tube and red and green buses mainly by myself that April, thrilled to be there at last, thrilled to be in an incredible city, trying to take everything in, to remember the feel of the air and the rain and the particular look to the sky and the light, so utterly different from the farmer's fields and isolation of rural Wisconsin. I walked and rode around and poked and prodded and looked until the city would close, then would get some excellent Indian take-away to bring back to my bed-and-breakfast room before passing out on the tiny neat bed.

Like Geoff, I saw the Archway Tavern, a few assorted Davies homes, Konk Studios, Denmark Street, Waterloo Bridge, and lots of other cool places. I rode in Dave Davies' black Mini Cooper, whipping through London with one of his children on my lap and two more in the back, scared out of my mind that we were going to crash into something on the tiny streets, toured a quiet Konk with its funny winding tiny rooms and fan drawings on the walls, spent part of a morning with a kind Davies sister looking at old family photos from a shoebox, seeing where this family came from, where the songs lived. Everything I had imagined in my mind was there, different but familiar at the same time.

Across from the old family home, #6, I stood one sunny afternoon and an elderly lady said hello to me as she crossed by me on the sidewalk. She smiled and asked if I was American, asked if I was there to see the Davies house. Somewhat surprised, I said yes to both, and after we chatted for awhile she asked if I would like to come in for a cup of tea, as she lived right there a couple of doors down. I thought for a second and said yes, that would be lovely.

She made the tea and served it in her tidy lace-curtained front room, pleased, it seemed, to have the company. She told me stories about "the boys" and how it was as they were growing up there, "always running in the street, in and out of the pub." She said how proud everyone in the neighborhood was of them when they became famous with "You Really Got Me," how good it was that regular people could make it in the world. I took small bites of the little dusty cookies she served with the tea, glanced at the sun streaming in through the curtains throwing lacy patterns on the floor, thinking of what she said and how I came to be there, drinking tea and chatting with a stranger 50 years older than me about a rock band in a foreign country. Crazy, and wonderful.

All these years later, fans still are flocking to Kinks-Land, hopeful for a chance to see sound expand to the vision, although the London of Ray Davies' songs is, for the most part, gone. In distilling the essence of his experience and the others around him, perhaps he made things more than they were, brightening and honing to make two or three minutes of recorded magic. Perhaps in reality that London, that England, was never quite as charming and compelling as it seemed to be to all of us listeners, but that is OK. The real story is that there is a bit of magic everywhere, and sometimes someone comes along with such a good eye for observation and way of telling a moment that it transcends the changes of a building or a road or a ballroom where a sister once joyfully danced. It lives on, as it is, to be enjoyed by generations.

And that was my revelation.

The Kinks -- Waterloo Sunset: