500 Greatest Songs of All Time

42

The Kinks, 'Waterloo Sunset'

Writer: Ray Davies
Producer: Ray Davies
Released: Feb. '68, Reprise
Did not chart

The Davies brothers were in the middle of recording their band's fifth album, Something Else by the Kinks, when Ray played an early version of this delicate orchestral-pop ballad for Dave. "We started ad-libbing vocal parts around the chorus," Dave said. Ray recalled that he went home and revised "until [the song] became like a pebble which had been rounded off by the sea . . . perfectly smooth." But he initially held off sharing the lyrics — about a loner who "don't need no friends" — with the rest of the band. "I was embarrassed by how personal [the lyrics] were," he later wrote. "It was like an extract from a diary nobody was allowed to read."

Appears on: Something Else by the Kinks (Warner Bros.)

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