As I sit here this morning at my desk, slowly waking up on a rainy day in June with the help of a very large mug of coffee, I cannot help but notice the achy stiffness in my shoulders and feet. Photographing two triple-bill club concerts on two nights in a row was a breeze when I was 20 -- now, inevitably, there is more of a physical cost. But I really don't get too bummed out about it. I am still doing something I love to do, augmented by the great gift that only comes with age: perspective. The long view, when you get there, changes everything, from knowing and accepting your backache will go on a couple days longer now to seeing so many of the beautiful, frustrating, heartbreaking, wondrous patterns that make up the world.

Ray Davies is further down along the path to perspective than I am -- 18 years further, in fact. He has been gifted, via his own talents, motivation, and the exquisite randomness of fate or luck or timing, with the extra privilege of having had a musical career that has taken him to most places in the world. As a member of the Kinks and as a solo performer, he's met thousands of people and has performed for what must be millions. He's written songs that people have played in hospital rooms while babies are being born, at their weddings, at funerals. So very many people have appreciated what he has created in his lifetime, and admire him. He has had the life experiences that most people can and will only ever dream about.

At the age of 20, Ray Davies was already famous; when I was 20, he was still famous, playing arenas, and I was photographing him. Thirty years on from that, he's still famous and admired, and I'm still clicking away. In the last couple of years as I've made my way back into the clubs after a long absence, Ray's been focusing on a couple of projects that seem to have been designed to bring the Kinks catalogue of songs to a wider audience, or to perhaps to mine something different within his most popular work ("The Kinks Choral Collection" and "See My Friends"). I was really pleased to see that Ray had been asked this year to curate Britain's Meltdown Festival, ten days of music and arts programming which concludes in London today. His choices were interesting and diverse -- from a concert by the Sonics, to comedic conversation with Michael Palin and Terry Jones of Monty Python, to a showing of the film, "Z" -- and of course, Ray also performed.

What got me thinking about time and perspective and such was "Sane," a new song Ray debuted at Meltdown. In this video, the song receives a perfect backing from the Leisure Society as Ray sings the lyrics from a handheld sheet. He takes a moment to explain the meaning of the lyrics beforehand, mentioning how the song first began to take form in a New Orleans emergency room as he recovered from a serious gunshot wound in 2004. In the seven years following the event, perspective was surely gained; hard-won, as physical and emotional effects linger. Yet, the triumph is Ray's. He survived, and through all the good and bad of a lifetime, still wants -- or needs -- to communicate to the world the experience of an individual "...pondering what his life's all about."

At 20, Ray Davies could not possibly have imagined how his life would unfold -- no one had written the playbook for extended careers in rock n' roll yet. At 20, I could not have imagined that thirty years later I would be taking photographs of a 20-year-old black dude screaming hardcore punk rock in Seattle on a Thursday night. Neither Ray nor I, nor anyone it seems, could have understood earlier in life that everything you see and do, all the people you meet, the things you make happen and the things the happen to you, add and build inside your head to construct the long view, or what that feels like. And no one could have explained how that perspective can be a tremendous comfort, or the coldest, harshest reality. The one thing that is obvious, though, is that you are who you are throughout your life; personality seems to change little. Ray's particular gift is his personality, his duality. You can see it in the last second or so in the video as he sings the words, "...pronounced sane." Relief, humor, validation...and the sadness in knowing that some kinds of pain are just never going to get better with time.

Ray Davies writes a song, I pop some Advil, and we keep moving forward, in our ways.