Profoundly Horrifying Song Lyrics: “Art Lover” by The Kinks

Music Features

Hey there, Horrifying Song Lyrics Gang. You may have noticed right off the bat that the HSL franchise has undergone an exciting re-branding. It turns out that while there are a limited number of secretly awful song lyrics out there, there is an infinite well of overtly terrifying music into which we can dip our buckets of rigorous analysis forever and ever. The evil is out in the open! The devil is everywhere! So from now on, the feature will be called “Profoundly Horrifying Song Lyrics.”

But our mission remains the same: To investigate the song lyrics of planet Earth for signs of intensely disturbing content. Today’s submission comes from Internet watchdog Brendan Rowan, who writes:

“I think you could have a field day with the Kinks’ “Art Lover.” Not only does it sound creepy (aurally), the lyrics are extremely off.”

The title seems innocent enough, but I’m on the case, Brendan. If YOU would like to submit your favorite horrifying song to help out the public good, Paste Reader, drop me a line at [email protected]. And of course, please check out our previous installments at the end of this post if you’re craving more lyric-induced terror.

As per usual, I won’t be looking at any backstory until I’m finished analyzing. So, on to The Kinks! Their lyrics in bold, my commentary after.

Sunday afternoon there’s something special
It’s just like another world.

Truth be told, I’ve always hated Sunday afternoons. As a kid, it reminded me that school was coming the next day, and now it’s the same for work. I get a kind of melancholy feeling, and the only thing that really brings me any enjoyment is eating something disgusting and watching Netflix.

But that’s neither here nor there. We’ve got a job to do, and so far Ray Davies and The Kinks are in the clear. Which is great, because I really like this band, and while I’d never heard of “Art Lover” before today, I like to believe it won’t change my opinion at all. So far, this is just the case of a nice gentleman enjoying his Sunday…what could go wrong?

Jogging in the park is my excuse

He’s getting exercise! Give the guy a break, Brendan! What, you don’t want people to exercise on the Lord’s day, you fascist? Is that it?! I’m sure once he tells us what jogging is his excuse for, we can all take a sigh of relief and go home.

To look at all the little girls.


Is there…is there a double-meaning here, or something? Ray Davies?! Are you…are you really just staring at little girls as you jog? This wasn’t about physical fitness at all??

I’m not a flasher in a rain coat

I guess that’s…good to know?

I’m not a dirty old man

Having serious doubts about this one.

I’m not gonna snatch you from your mother

Honestly? I was kinda hoping that could go without saying. The fact that you have to clarify all these things makes me think that you actually might be a flasher, a dirty old man, and a kidnapper. It’s like how Joe Biden is always saying how it’d be “super weird” to have a go-kart track in the White House rose garden, but you can tell he really wants it to happen.

I’m an art lover

Boy, it sure didn’t take long to creepify that phrase, did it? The next time someone says he’s an art lover, there’s no way I’m not going to picture him jogging in a park staring at little girls.

(Note: The situation where someone comes up to me and say he’s an art lover doesn’t happen very often.)

Come to daddy,
Ah, come to daddy,
Come to daddy.


(Okay, confession: I can’t help laughing at the juxtaposition of these lyrics with the airy, melodic music. I’m a bad person.)

Pretty little legs, I want to draw them

Girls: If you’re playing in the park, and a man takes out a notebook and some colored pencils, you have to run? Okay? Trust Paste Magazine on this one. You need to run back to your parents fast, because a weird man is about to draw your legs. And even though it may not seem like it in your undeveloped brains, that is a violation.

Like a Degas ballerina
Pure white skin, like porcelain

Comparing your Sunday perv sessions to a real artist does not make it okay, narrator! Degas does not approve!

She’s a work of art and I should know
I’m an art lover.

Time for an old-school SAT analogy:

Pedophile:Art Lover Guy:”Foodie”

Come to daddy,
And I’ll give you some spangles.

Good God, that is so incredibly disturbing. I almost have to tip my cap, because “spangles” is a truly perfect word if you’re trying to sound completely shuddersome. (Second Note: I’ve decided to use the word “shuddersome” in every HSL installment from now on).

Seriously, “spangles” is a showstopper. I can only react Michael Bluth style: “Well, no one’s going to top that.”

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.

I hate to play semantics, but I have a details question, narrator: Are you still jogging? If you’re jogging with your sunglasses on but still somehow around the same girl, I bet she notices you. I’m just picturing you stepping in place, hovering near a sandbox or something. And I the girl assumes you’re staring at her, dude, sunglasses or not. You notice the parents in the background standing next to a cop and pointing? That’s for you, narrator. You’re not being inconspicuous.

She feeds the ducks, looks at the flowers.
I follow her around for hours and hours.

Yep, she definitely notices you, freaky jogging sunglasses man who may or may not have drawing material on him, and now I’m wondering why she isn’t sounding some kind of alarm. If I ever have a daughter, this is the first highly specific lesson I’m going to impart.

I’d take her home, but that could never be

Again, this sounds more like a guy talking himself into kidnapping than someone who legitimately believes that kidnapping is not an option. The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks. You know that quote’s origin, right, song narrator? Right?! OH COME ON! Nothing? Nothing at all? It’s Hamlet, dude. The most famous play ever. By Shakespeare. I mean, you’ve at least heard of him, right? William Shakespeare? The playwright? Seriously, you don’t know Shakespeare?!

You know what, narrator? I’m starting to think you’re not even a real art lover.

She’s just a substitute
For what’s been taken from me.

Hmmmm, don’t know what this means. But for once, I think I’m glad to be kept in the dark. Because the only thing I can imagine being taken from him is another girl. That he probably kidnapped. But at the moment, I have plausible deniability, and I am going to hang on to that beautiful son of a bitch as long as humanly possible.

Ah, come to daddy, come on.

Whoever invented the phrase “come to daddy” should probably be in jail for life. The charge? Aiding and abetting EVERY TERRIFYING CRIME EVER.

Sunday afternoon can’t last forever

Something tells me this guy’s Monday plans don’t involve doing his taxes, or heading to the grocery store, or anything other than perving on little girls. Ditto for Tuesday-Saturday.

Wish I could take you home

Yeah, we got that impression.

So, come on, give us a smile
Before you vanish out of view.

Wow, is he actually jogging away? Or has the girl finally recognized that a weirdo has been looming over her for the past couple hours, and decided to split? Or, best possible scenario, are the cops finally dragging him kicking and screaming? Either way, he’s probably not getting that smile.

I’ve learned to appreciate you
The way art lovers do,
And I only want to look at you.

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, this holds up: I always check out art from a surreptitious distance, wearing shades and pretending to jog as I become more and more aroused. It’s a big part of the reason why I’m no longer allowed in the Louvre Museum. Or France in general.


And that’s it! Looking at the back story, it seems like the reference to “what was taken from me” might be about Ray Davies’ daughters, and how he couldn’t see them due to a divorce and his own alcoholism. Still, though, you can’t tell me those lyrics aren’t gross, and the fact that his daughters might be thematically related to the song actually kinda makes it worse. You get no mercy from me, Ray Davies.

Official Horror Rating: 9.4

Check out our previous installments:

Don’t You Want Me – The Human League
Fake Palindromes – Andrew Bird
Young Girl – Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
Dance Hall Days — Wang Chung

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