Friday, May 5, 2017

Today in Music (1967): The Kinks released “Waterloo Sunset”

Waterloo Sunset

The Kinks

Writer(s): Ray Davies (see lyrics here)

Released: May 5, 1967

First Charted: May 11, 1967

Peak: 1 CL, 2 UK, 4 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.4 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 11.7 video, 106.5 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The initial chart impact of the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” was very different in the band’s native UK where it reached #2 and the United States where it failed to chart. However, it has become one of the band’s most acclaimed songs. In the UK, it “is commonly considered to be [singer and lyricist Ray] Davies’ most famous work.” WK Music critic Robert Christgau called it “the most beautiful song in the English language.” WK All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine said it is “possibly the most beautiful song of the rock and roll era.” AMG British singer Paul Weller says it is his favorite song. SF

The lyrics describe a narrator watching two lovers cross a bridge over the River Thames and meeting at London’s Waterloo station. There are rumors that the song was inspired by the romance of British celebrities Terence Stamp and Julie Christie, who starred in 1967’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Ray Davies has denied this saying “it was a fantasy about my sister going off with her boyfriend to a new world.” SF It’s also worth noting that while the actors had been dating since the early ‘60s, that particular movie didn’t come out until six months after the single was released. SF

The song is noted for its complex arrangement, but the recording sessions only lasted ten hours. It was not produced by Shel Talmy, the band’s longtime producer, but soley by Ray Davies. Guitarist Dave Davies said, “We spent a lot of time trying to get a different guitar sound…in the end we used a tape-delay echo, but it sounded new because nobody had done it since the 1950s.” WK


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First posted 10/7/2021; last updated 9/18/2023.

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