Waterloo Sunset

Something Else

Waterloo Sunset is a song by British rock band The Kinks. It was released as a single in 1967, and featured on their album ‘Something Else by The Kinks.’ Composed and produced by Kinks frontman Ray Davies, ‘Waterloo Sunset’ is one of the band’s best known and most acclaimed songs. The lyrics describe a solitary narrator watching (or imagining) two lovers passing over a bridge, with the melancholic observer reflecting on the couple, the Thames, and Waterloo Station.

The song was rumored to have been inspired by the romance between two British celebrities of the time, actors Terence Stamp and Julie Christie. Ray Davies denied this in his autobiography, ‘It was a fantasy about my sister going off with her boyfriend to a new world and they were going to emigrate and go to another country.’

Despite its complex arrangement, the sessions for ‘Waterloo Sunset’ lasted a mere ten hours; Dave Davies later commented on the recording: ‘We spent a lot of time trying to get a different guitar sound, to get a more unique feel for the record. In the end we used a tape-delay echo, but it sounded new because nobody had done it since the 1950s. I remember Steve Marriott of the Small Faces came up and asked me how we’d got that sound. We were almost trendy for a while.’

The record reached number 2 on the British charts in mid 1967 (it failed to dislodge the Tremeloes’ ‘Silence Is Golden’ from the number 1 position). Davies considered the song a professional milestone, where he managed to blend the commercial demands of a hit single with his own highly personal style of narrative songwriting. The elaborate production was the first Kinks recording produced solely by Davies, without longtime producer Shel Talmy. In subsequent arguments with Kinks management over the direction of the band, Davies would say ‘I’ve done ‘Waterloo Sunset,’ now I want to do something else.’

In 2010 Ray Davies stated the song was originally entitled ‘Liverpool Sunset.’ In an interview with the ‘Liverpool Echo’ he explained ‘Liverpool is my favorite city, and the song was originally called Liverpool Sunset. I was inspired by Merseybeat. I’d fallen in love with Liverpool by that point. On every tour, that was the best reception. We played The Cavern, all those old places, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I had a load of mates in bands up there, and that sound – not The Beatles but Merseybeat – that was unbelievable. It used to inspire me every time. So I wrote Liverpool Sunset. Later it got changed to Waterloo Sunset, but there’s still that play on words with Waterloo. London was home, I’d grown up there, but I like to think I could be an adopted Scouser. My heart is definitely there.’

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