1001 Songs Challenge,  1960s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #234: Waterloo Sunset (1967)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset (1967)

We’re fixing our feet solely on UK shores today, dear reader, and we once again welcome The Kinks to the blog. I believe this is their fourth appearance on our list after You Really Got Me, Sunny Afternoon and Dead End Street. Quite an achievement, guys. Is this the last time we will see you, or are more songs still to come? As with many songs by the group, this one was written by Ray Davies and began life with the title, Liverpool Sunset, but another famous band ruled those streets so Davies switched the setting to The Kinks’ home in London where it became Waterloo Sunset.

Waterloo Sunset is an ode to London with the narrator watching a couple by the name of Terry and Julie, looking at the Thames and at Waterloo Station. Terry and Julie seem to be in the midst of a whirlwind romance as our narrator watches from afar and takes in the scenic beauty. They themselves seem averse to leaving their home and facing the bustling city life of London which from personal experience can be intimidating. Many aspects of it do not seem appealing but the narrator takes great comfort in being able to see the sunset of Waterloo, from the song’s title. For them it is “paradise” and as long as they always have that they will be content.

Waterloo Sunset is arguably the best song The Kinks ever recorded. It demonstrates an appreciation for being home and in familiar surroundings. Even the “dirty old river” that is the River Thames is something our narrator finds comfort in. It isn’t perfect but it is home. The song would reach no.2 in the UK charts and critical praise would be thrown in the direction of Ray Davies. Modest man that he is, Davies has dismissed the plaudits and even gone so far as to say he’d like to change some of the lyrics. The consensus from those that have enjoyed this masterpiece is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


Favourite songs so far:

Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Who – Substitute (1966)

The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)

The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)

The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby (1966)

The Doors – The End (1967)

The Velvet Underground – Venus in Furs (1967)

The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset (1967)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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