The Musical Wes Anderson: The Kinks – “This Time Tomorrow” “Strangers” “Powerman”

After a brief Holiday break we’re back with the third installment of The Musical Wes Anderson, this time with a musical triptych by The Kinks.

All three songs are from British rock pioneers The Kinks, and come from their succinctly titled 1970 LP Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround Part One.

ANDERSON WORK

The three songs are featured in Anderson’s 2007 film The Darjeeling Limited, with “This Time Tomorrow” appearing near the start of the film, “Strangers” in the middle, and “Powerman” near the end. All three mark a part of the film, and all are played over slow-motion shots of the brothers moving towards a vehicle. This isn’t the first time Anderson had used a Kinks track, he used their “Nothin’ In This World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl” in Rushmore, a film he had at one time considered filling solely with Kinks songs, nearly a decade prior.

CONTEXT

Anderson lines up the opening jet noise of “This Time Tomorrow” with the introduction of Peter (Adrien Brody), who is running to catch the film’s namesake train. With the lyrics asking “This time tomorrow, where will we be?” it’s just about as literal as Anderson has allowed the music in his films to be.  The second song serves the film in this way too, coming right after a tragedy that pulls the brothers out of their own egocentricism for a moment and places them as strangers in a small Indian village. Though they are strangers, both to the villagers and in many ways themselves, they are united by death. By the sadness the village shares, and the sadness of the loss of their father, and the abandonment by their mother. The sadness that holds them together. As the song says “We are not two, we are one.” Where the first half of the film finds the brothers partaking in the more sensual pleasures of India, the commerce, the drugs, and in Jack’s case, the women, the death of the little boy grounds them and it’s only then when the real “spiritual journey” begins. The final song, “Powerman,” comes near the end of the film as the brothers Whitman chase after and board another train, The Bengal Lancer. This scene near the end mirrors the first one, with the same shots and cuts almost frame for frame, and the lyrics mention that “It’s the same old story.” It’s also worth noting that in the first and third scenes, the brothers are traveling from the right side of the frame to left, traditionally meaning backwards, whereas in the middle section the brothers move left to right, going forward. One wonders if they’ve changed at all by the end of the film.

By structuring the film with these songs it not only gives the trip shape, but they say what the brothers themselves are probably feeling and are so incapable of saying. All three are having a self-conscious “spiritual journey,” and though Jack is the one sound-tracking it in real life, all three are trying to have important experiences and the music serves as a reflection of the grandeur these moments must have in their own heads.

HISTORY

Lola Versus Powerman… is one of The Kinks most critically praised and enduring albums, though it was not initially a financial success. The record did produce the classic single “Lola,” one of the groups biggest hits. The group disbanded in 1995, though their popularity has maintained in the years since, as they’ve been cited as influences by a number of popular rock acts. A film about an attempt to reunite the band called Do It Again, was released last year. The three songs in The Darjeeling Limited have also gained in popularity again since the release of the film, with covers of “Strangers” from Norah Jones, and Wye Oak, among others. You can find lyrics for all three songs below the videos.

“This Time Tomorrow”

This time tomorrow, where will we be?
On a spaceship somewhere, sailing across an empty sea
This time tomorrow what will we know?
Will we still be here watching an in-flight movie show?

I’ll leave the sun behind me
And I watch the clouds as they sadly pass me by
Seven miles below me
I can see the world and it ain’t so big at all

This time tomorrow, what will we see?
Fields full of houses, endless rows of crowded streets
I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t want to see
I feel the world below me looking up at me

Leave the sun behind me
And watch the clouds as they sadly pass me by
And I’m in perpetual motion
And the world below doesn’t matter much to me

This time tomorrow, where will we be?
On a spaceship somewhere, sailing across any empty sea
This time tomorrow, this time tomorrow

“Strangers”

Where are you going I don’t mind
I’ve killed my world and I’ve killed my time
So where do I go what do I see
I see many people coming after me
So where are you going to I don’t mind
If I live too long I’m afraid I’ll die
So I will follow you wherever you go
If your offered hand is still open to me
Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one
So you’ve been where I’ve just come
From the land that brings losers on
So we will share this road we walk
And mind our mouths and beware our talk
‘Till peace we find tell you what I’ll do
All the things I own I will share with you
If I feel tomorrow like I feel today
We’ll take what we want and give the rest away
Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one
Holy man and holy priest
This love of life makes me weak at my knees
And when we get there make your play
‘Cos soon I feel you’re gonna carry us away
In a promised lie you made us believe
For many men there is so much grief
And my mind is proud but it aches with rage
And if I live too long I’m afraid I’ll die
Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one
Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two we are one

“Powerman”

I know a man, he’s a powerful man
He’s got the people in his power
In the palm of his hand
He started at the bottom and he worked his way up
Now he’s never going to stop
Until he reaches the top
It’s the same old story, it’s the same old dream
It’s power man, power man, and all that it can bring
If you want your money, you better stand in the line
Cause you’ll only end up picking up nickels and dimes
You call him names and he sits and grins
Cause everybody else is just a sucker to him
And he’s got my money, but I’ve got my faith
And powerman, powerman, I’ll never be your slave
It’s the same old story, it’s the same old game
It’s power man, power man, driving me insane
People tried to conquer the world Napoleon and Genghis Khan
Hitler tried and Mussolini too
Powerman don’t need to fight, powerman don’t need no guns
Powerman got money on his side
Well I’m not rich and I’m not free
But I’ve got my girl and she got me
He’s got my money and my publishing rights
But I’ve got my girl and I’m alright
And she got me going, and she keeps me sane
But powerman, powerman, got money on the brain
It’s the same old story it’s the same old game
Powerman, powerman driving me insane

You can buy The Darjeeling Limited on Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray now. By using our links you help to support the site.

5 thoughts on “The Musical Wes Anderson: The Kinks – “This Time Tomorrow” “Strangers” “Powerman”

  1. The moment “This Time Tomorrow” hit in Darjeeling I felt chills. Such a great movie/song/moment. Great album as well coming during a fantastic string of them from the Kinks.

  2. I actually didn’t get into The Kinks until I saw this movie. I had only known ‘Lola’ among their other big hits. They are now one of my favorite bands, all thanks to Wes!

  3. “One wonders if they’ve changed at all by the end of the film.”
    C’mon. Of course they’ve changed! Nevertheless, the journey continues. Let’s go get a drink and smoke a cigarette.

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