Waterloo Sunset 🎶

On 5 May 1967 the Kinks released “Waterloo Sunset”, a single which was also their first single available in true stereo.
The song was originally entitled “Liverpool Sunset”, because songwriter and singer Ray Davies loved the city and its music.
But when The Beatles released “Penny Lane”, the title changed because another song about Liverpool may have struggled.
Ray Davies said “Waterloo Bridge was a very significant place in my life. I was in St. Thomas’ Hospital when I was really ill as a child, and I used to look out on the river.” When he was 13 he had a tracheotomy and had to spent some months recuperating in hospital, which gave him the opportunity to spend plenty of time looking at the river.
Later Davies used to cross Waterloo Bridge, in London, every day when he went to college.

Waterloo Sunset

Dirty old river, must you keep rolling, flowing into the night?
People so busy, make me feel dizzy, taxi light shines so bright
But I don’t need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise

Every day I look at the world from my window
(Sha-la-la) But chilly, chilly is the evening time
Waterloo sunset’s fine (Waterloo sunset’s fine)

Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station, every Friday night
But I am so lazy, don’t want to wander, I stay at home at night
But I don’t feel afraid
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise

Every day I look at the world from my window
(Sha-la-la) But chilly, chilly is the evening time
Waterloo sunset’s fine (Waterloo sunset’s fine)

Millions of people swarming like flies ’round Waterloo underground
But Terry and Julie cross over the
River where they feel safe and sound
And they don’t need no friends
As long as they gaze on Waterloo sunset they are in paradise

Waterloo sunset’s fine
Waterloo sunset’s fine
Waterloo sunset’s fine

His brother Dave said that the song “it was like an extract from a diary nobody was allowed to read”.

The lyrics are about a solitary narrator looking out of the window at two lovers meeting at Waterloo Station and then passing over the bridge, which gives him the opportunity to reflect on the couple, Waterloo station and the Thames, which at the time was very dirty. In 1967 it couldn’t support life but today it is the cleanest river that flows through a major city in the world.
While looking at the beautiful sunset of the Waterloo Bridge, the narrator is able to put all his troubles aside. However. by staying inside and keeping a distance from what he sees, he is both protecting himself from the undesirable aspects of life (the cold, the dirt, the crowds) and preventing himself from experiencing life to the fullest (as represented by the two lovers ).
He is gratified by observing the world from afar instead of engaging with it, he is content with the beauty of the sunset that the lovers are gazing together, an action they share and makes them happy.
They are his connection to the world outside his window and the singer finds some solace in imagining the happiness of Terry and Julie. But this may also suggest his sadness at his loneliness, because they are really in paradise, not him.

Ray Davies said the two lovers meeting at Waterloo Station every Friday night represent “the aspirations of my sisters’ generation who grew up during the Second World War” and “a fantasy about my sister going off with her boyfriend to a new world.”
However it was speculated that this line was about the romance between two British celebrities of the time, actor Terence Stamp and actress Julie Christie, who starred together in 1967’s “Far From The Madding Crowd” and had been dating since the early ’60s

Vecchio fiume sporco,
devi continuare a fluire,
scorrendo nella notte?
Le persone così indaffarate mi fanno venire le vertigini
la luce dei taxi brilla così intensa.
Ma non ho bisogno di amici
Finché guardo il tramonto su Waterloo,
sono in paradiso

Ogni giorno osservo il mondo dalla mia finestra
Ma fredda, fredda è l’ora della sera
il tramonto su Waterloo è bello

Terry incontra Julie alla stazione di Waterloo
ogni venerdì sera
ma io sono così pigro,
non ho voglia di vagare
resto in casa la sera
Ma non ho paura
Finché guardo il tramonto su Waterloo
sono in paradiso

Ogni giorno osservo il mondo dalla mia finestra
Ma fredda, fredda è l’ora della sera
il tramonto su Waterloo è bello
Milioni di persone sciamano come mosche
intorno alla metropolitana di Waterloo
Ma Terry e Julie attraversano il fiume
dove si sentono sicuri
e non hanno bisogno di amici
Finché guardano il tramonto su Waterloo,
sono in paradiso

Il tramonto su Waterloo è bello

56 thoughts on “Waterloo Sunset 🎶

  1. I love this post! Great vintage footage. And your analysis is very interesting information. The Kinks were my very first concert a a young teenager. Loved them, one of my favorite bands growing up. We had front from seats and we were so close to them that Ray Davies spittle was raining down on me. :))

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know what this song was about. I had never LISTENED to the lyrics before. It seems songs of this vintage often tell a story, narrative lyrics instead of a statement-in-time which I’ve noticed so often about contemporary music.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ray Davies was an exceptional songwriter in my opinion. I saw The Kinks in concert just as their third straight number 1 hit the UK charts (Tired of Waiting). They were fantastic, but little did I know what Ray Davies was hiding from us all at the time. He let us all know by some of his later music such as Lola – but Waterloo Sunset was a song I always wanted to believe how I wanted it to. Thanks for reviving the memories again Luisa.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. ‘Waterloo Sunset’ came to Ray Davies in a dream and he met his first girlfriend, who became his first wife, along the Embankment at Waterloo. In mid-1964, twenty-year-old Ray Davies began dating a 17-year-old woman called Rasa Didzpetris who he met in Sheffield after Rasa skipped out on school where she was a student from Lithuania via Bradford. Ray wooed Rasa on Waterloo Bridge and they married in December 1964 after Rasa became pregnant and they divorced in 1973. The song ‘Waterloo Sunset’ features two characters named Terry and Julie and they have something have to do with the aspirations of his elder sisters, who grew up during the Second World War and missed out on the 60s. Ray thought about the world that he wanted his sisters to have and he wrote this delicate, compassionate portrait of everyday loneliness lurking in the hearts of people while pretending that everything’s fine on the surface. Terry and Julie will never meet this guy, and they don’t even know that he exists.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post. I think you might know what I am about to say next! This is one of those great songs that I love to play on the guitar. The Kinks were (are) fabulous and so is Ray Davies. I never liked Far From The Madding Crowd all that much as a book (Although I thought Thomas Hardy was a fine poet), nor the film version for that matter, but Terrence and Julie are two wonderful actors.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. “…at s. elena’s island, on may 5 two centuries ago, napoleon REALLY did surrender…”
        Beautiful song, waterloo sunset.
        Manzoni dice in diversi modi che Napoleone e’ morto: “ei fu (morto), siccome immobile (morto) dette il mortal sospiro (morto), “…..le spoglie immemore (ossia morto)….- ” …..di tanto spiro” (i puntini sono le parole che non ricordo… ), comunque Morto… .
        Ciao 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. A proposito di date in inglese ti racconto questa, di un amico che conosceva – conosce l’inglese per aver lavorato a Londra alcuni anni. Era in ferie, venne a trovarmi sul luogo di lavoro, aveva i muratori in casa e voleva che gli ritagliassi una lastra (facevo il marmista allora) di qualche centimetro). Parlammo di inglese, gli dissi che lo stavo studiando, con un metodo libro e audiocassette, e che stavo imparando benino. Lui allora “ah, studi l’inglese..dimmi l’anno…”, al che io “one thousand nine hundred seventy nine…” e lui: “no, non si dice cosi’, ma “nineteen seventy nine”….”- “Okay- feci io-, va bene, ma anche tu, mettere alla prova un principiante con una cosa cosi’ specifica, io non conoscevo questa regola. Un principiante va messo alla prova con “prova a dire “buon giorno signora”, “oggi e’ una bella giornata”, “che lavoro fai…”, infatti Gianni, io cio’ che comunemente si dice, lo so dire, so farmi capire; questa cosa della data è troppo specifica, uno puo’ anche non saperla, “19-79″, e comunque…cavarsela..”.
    Ah, glielo dissi in inglese 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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