"Lola" is a song written by Ray Davies and performed by The Kinks. The song details a romantic encounter between a young man and a possible transvestite or transgender person he meets in a club in Soho, London, with the narrator describing his confusion towards a person named Lola who "walked like a woman and talked like a man".
Released in June 1970, in the UK on the 12th and in the USA on the 28th, the single was taken from the album Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One and reached #2 in the UK charts and #9 in the US. It was ranked 422nd on the List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
In the book The Kinks: The Official Biography, Davies said that he was inspired to write this song after the band manager Robert Wace had spent the night dancing with a transvestite. Davies said,
|“||In his apartment, Robert had been dancing with this black woman, and he said, 'I'm really onto a thing here.' And it was okay until we left at six in the morning and then I said, 'Have you seen the stubble?' He said 'Yeah,' but he was too pissed [intoxicated] to care, I think.||”|
In his autobiography, Dave Davies said that he came up with the music for what would become Lola. After Dave had shown his brother the music, Ray came up with the lyrics. Dave went on to say his brother took all the credit for the song.
The original song recorded in stereo had the word "Coca-Cola" in the lyrics, but because of BBC Radio's policy against product placement, Ray was forced to make a six thousand mile round-trip flight from New York to London—interrupting the band's American tour—to change those words to the generic "cherry cola" for the single release.
The success of the single had important ramifications for the band's career at a critical time, allowing them to negotiate a new contract with RCA Records, construct their own London Studio, and assume more creative and managerial control.
A live version of the song, recorded in 1979 in Providence, Rhode Island, was released in the US in July 1980 to promote the live album One for the Road. The B-side was the live version of "Celluloid Heroes". The single was a moderate success, reaching #81 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also released in some countries in Europe (although not the UK) in April 1981. It was a big hit in the Netherlands, matching the #1 peak of the original version, and in Belgium where it reached #2. It also charted in Australia. Although not released as a stand-alone single in the UK, it was included on a bonus single (backed with the live version of "David Watts") with initial copies of "Better Things" in June 1981.
|UK Singles Chart||2|
|Austrian Singles Chart||2|
|Dutch GfK chart||1|
|Dutch Top 40||1|
|Irish Singles Chart||1|
|Italian Singles Chart||1|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||1|
|Swiss Singles Chart||4|
|US Billboard Hot 100||9|
|Belgian Singles Chart||2|
|Dutch GfK chart||1|
|Dutch Top 40||1|
|US Billboard Hot 100||81|
- "Lola" was covered in Greek by Hellenic 70s pop idol Paschalis in 1972.
- "Lola" was covered by Don Fardon in 1974.
- "Lola" was covered by Nicky Thomas in 1974 on his album "Love of the Common People".
- "Lola" was covered by The Raincoats on their 1979 album, The Raincoats.
- "Lola" was covered by Cud and released as a 7" single in April 1989.
- In 1984 German singer Heinz Rudolf Kunze recorded a German version that was released as a single.
- Around 1980 "Weird Al" Yankovic made a Star Wars-themed parody of the song, entitled "Yoda", which would eventually be recorded in 1985 and released on his album, Dare To Be Stupid.
- Andy Taylor (of Duran Duran) covered the song for his 1990 album Dangerous.
- Bad Manners covered the song on their 1993 album Fat Sound.
- Mollies Revenge covered the song on their 1997 album Every Dirty Word.
- In 2000 Damon Albarn covered the song on the soundtrack for the Icelandic movie 101 Reykjavík.
- In 2000 Thunder played the song in their concert, for the album They Think It's all Over ... It Is Now.
- Natural Born Hippies covered the song as "Lola (If you ever..)" for their 1999 album Popshit.
- In 2005, transsexual musician Dana Baitz recorded a cover version of the song, telling the story from Lola's perspective.
- Madness covered the song on their 2005 album The Dangermen Sessions Vol. 1. In the sleevenotes, Lee Thompson mentions an unreleased answer song written by Thompson and Chris Foreman for their Crunch! project, titled "Mistress, Mistress".
- In 2005 Dutch singer Jan Rot recorded a Dutch translation for his album Nachtlied, a bundle of songs about the night
- In September 2007, Robbie Williams recorded a cover of "Lola" to celebrate the 40th Birthday of BBC Radio 1. His version spent one week at number 91 in the Romanian Singles Chart.
- McFly collaborated with Busted for a cover of the song (which was a B-side on the "5 Colours in Her Hair" single)
- "Lola" was covered by Travis in 2008 as a B-side for the single "Something Anything", released on 15 September, and is featured in their latest album Ode to J. Smith, released 29 September.
- Spanish rock band M-Clan did a Spanish language version of the song in their album Sopa fria.
- "Lola" was covered in concert by Widespread Panic on October 31, 2010, at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- "Lola" was featured in the Futurama episode Amazon Women In The Mood. The lyrics were changed to "Leela," as Captain Zapp Brannigan dedicated the song to her.
- "Lola" was covered by Brain Dead Sallies on their album "Love Me Tender".