Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks (Something Else, 1967)
Beginning with a rolling kind of bass guitar sound that gives way to a guitar lick that almost belies the rest of the down-tempo, melancholic arrangement, this song has it all (great music, memorable melody and lyrically superior) and has been my favorite Kinks song since I first heard it. The subtle harmonies really solidify the overall theme of the track and the piano at the end really take the song into the classic realm.
The lyrics reflect a narrator (one has to assume Ray Davies since he was to the Kinks what Billy Corgan was to the Smashing Pumpkins) observing two lovers, Terry & Julie (rumored to be about Terence Stamp and Julie Christie, but Davies’ insists is really a fantasy involving his nephew Terry and a girl) who rendezvous every Friday night, while he watches lost in his own world. I can say for much of my twenties I observed tons of couples with a detached sense of longing with an undercurrent of being too stuck and hooked on my creature comforts to do anything about it, so for me the song always seemed to be a commentary on my own personal situation.
Today though, married and a father, it seems like a great, timeless yarn with some of the best storytelling set to music of the 20th century. This song is one of the all-time greats and done during the Kinks Golden Period, it is considered by many to be such.
The Kinks best?
While the song didn’t do much in America from a chart perspective, it took off across the pond and was a #2 song in their homeland, the UK. While rocking songs like “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night” may get the Classic Rock format vote, this slow burner is where the Kinks really show they’re one of the all-time great bands of the 1960’s and 70’s. As long as I gaze up, Waterloo Sunset, I am in paradise. Perfect.