The Kinks, ‘Waterloo Sunset’ – Lyrics Uncovered
Ray Davies of the Kinks literally dreamed up one of his band’s biggest hits, ‘Waterloo Sunset’ from 1967’s ‘Something Else by the Kinks’ album. In fact, the singer says he simply “woke up and it was there.”
In an interview with Classic Rock magazine, Davies goes on to say he originally wanted to call the song ‘Liverpool Sunset’ but chose to honor London instead.
“I had a feeling it was going to be a hit,” Dave Davies said of this brother’s lyrics in his autobiography ‘Kink.’ Neither could imagine at the time the song would go on to be one of the greatest rock songs of all time, revered by artists like Pete Townshend, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix.
“Waterloo was a pivotal place in my life,” the older Davies says about writing the song. “And I saw several Waterloo sunsets. I was in St. Thomas’ Hospital there when I was really ill as a child, and I looked out on the Thames. Later I used to go past the station when I went to art college on the train. And I met my first girlfriend … along the Embankment at Waterloo.”
The decision to write about London instead of Liverpool proved to be the right one. Many critics at the time wondered if the ‘Terry’ and ‘Julie’ he sings about were famous celebrities at the time, but Davies indicates the names were more random. “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,” he told Spinner Magazine in 2008.
Davies says he wrote the lyrics with the idea that he’d ask listeners to fill in some of the blanks on their own. The production was “sparse but tightly arranged” and the song was near completion before one final touch was added. “We messed around with various guitar ideas and sounds before we finally tried working the guitar part through a tape delay,” Dave Davies says. “It worked like a dream.”
“We were almost trendy for a while,” he also said.