The Kinks proved their record label boss Clive Davis wrong this day in 1983, as “Come Dancing” hit #6 in Canada, a week after being top 10 in the States. As such it was their first top 10 single in the Great White North since “Lola” 13 years prior and their biggest hit in the U.S. since 1965!
Ray Davies had written the song more or less from memories of growing up in post-war England. He had six older sisters who liked to go out dancing on dates, but as was the norm back then, would “reward” their boys with little more than a platonic kiss. He has variously said it was about Gwen, a sister seven years his elder, or Rene, 18 years older than him. Rene was said to have bought him his first guitar and sadly, died on the dance floor (she had heart troubles) when he was still a teen.
Clive Davis famously admits to arguing with Davies about the single, thinking it a nice song but a terrible fit for rock radio. The label boss admits “MTV loved it” but thought it cost Arista album sales. It’s unlikely to be the case, since the album State of Confusion was the Kinks third-straight top 20 in the U.S., after not scoring one that popular in their first 15 years of existence. Davies on the other hand says the song is the “lyrics I’m most proud of” and to whit, he wrote a play based on the song in 2008.