“AS LONG AS I GAZE ON WATERLOO SUNSET, I AM IN PARADISE”
Hello my 14 friends and welcome back to a new blog post!
As always, I’m going to start with updating y’all on my life a little bit. I am currently sitting here writing this at the Boulder Reservoir, which I just discovered last weekend. It’s this beautiful body of water 20 minutes from my apartment in Boulder. Not only do you get beautiful views of the water, but the mountains are in view as well, making it such a peaceful, picturesque spot. The only thing I would change about it is that I wish it was all mine, but there’s a spot that I walk to all the way down the beach on this little dock that I get all to myself.
The water here reminds me so much of my hometown. It’s so calm; no waves, just like the harbor. When I close my eyes, it sounds exactly like home. I’m really glad I discovered a place like this here. It makes me feel not as far away from home as before. P.S. there is currently a golden retriever swimming and playing in the water to my right and it’s probably the happiest thing I’ve seen in a while so today is just overall a really great time. Sitting here, I just feel really at peace and really at home. The sun is on my shoulders, the slight breeze is keeping me cool, the blue sky is reflecting off the water and turning it a bright, clear blue, and everyone I see around me is having a good time. This is truly the happiest I have felt in a while. If I could stop time in this moment, I really would. But, I guess all I can do is just enjoy it right now.
Anyway, I really hope everyone reading this is doing well and enjoying their time, too. Hopefully everyone is safe and healthy and soaking in the simple things in life right now. I know I am really grateful for the small, joyous moments that can often go overlooked.
LAST quick update: I decided to invest in the $52 it took to upgrade my blog to a new plan. This means that I officially have my own domain (so we are now Fortherecord97.com) and all WordPress ads have been removed!! I figured I should do something nice for myself and this blog. It’s definitely worth it to me…the ads were really taking away from the vibe of the blog posts I think. So, enjoy this new, ad free experience everyone!
Anyway, sorry for the ramble, but I just couldn’t neglect to mention the beauty that is surrounding me right now.
Today, I wanted to delve into The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset.” I only just heard this song last week, but already it is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever heard. I truly cannot stop listening to it. I have to credit my co-worker friend for showing me this song…so if you are reading this, thank you! Keep spreading and sharing the knowledge of the good tunes.
Let’s start by introducing the band. The Kinks are an English rock band who emerged in the 1960’s. Their original lineup consisted of brothers Dave (lead guitar, vocals) and Ray Davies (rhythm guitar, vocals, keys), Pete Quaife (bass), and Mick Avory (percussion). Some of their most commercially successful hits include “You Really Got Me,” “Lola,” and “Strangers.” Upon further investigation into this band, I have come to really love some of their underground stuff, such as “The Village Green Preservation Society” and “Apeman.” Overall, I don’t think these guys have one bad song. Though totally unique in their own sound, I definitely hear a bit of Beatles, The Who, The Zombies, and Bob Dylan in their music. They’re like a rock meets folk meets blues meets punk fusion, which is really interesting to listen to. The Kinks were often credited as one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960’s British Invasion.
“Waterloo Sunset” was born in 1967, first released as a single and later featured on their fifth studio album “Something Else by The Kinks” of the same year. It was written and produced by Kinks member Ray Davies. A lot of what I learned about the story behind this song is credited to Bill DeMain, who wrote a really great article about this song, which I will link at the end. To start though, this song came to Davies in a dream, which I think is just about the coolest thing ever. How amazing of an artist do you have to be to dream in song like that? I think what’s so special about that is the fact that this song is literally so good that it couldn’t have existed in reality. It could only have been made in a dream. But, luckily, Davies was able to turn what his mind came up with in a dream into a real, tangible song that can now be enjoyed forever in our human existence.
Having spent a lot of his time in Waterloo, Davies adds many personal touches to this track that represent some meaningful moments in his life. Davies stated:
“Waterloo was a pivotal place in my life…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, who became my first wife, along the Embankment at Waterloo.”
From childhood, to college, to marriage…Waterloo has remained a constant in Davies life, watching him grow up through different stages of his youth. It’s funny to me because Davies’ wrote this song from the point of view of an outside narrator, almost as if looking down on everything that is happening in Waterloo. But, when I think about it, Waterloo was that outside narrator in Davies’ life, observing everything he was doing and going through. You can feel the connection that Davies and Waterloo have to each other. As Davies was changing, Waterloo was remaining a constant in his life, and I think that’s really special.
So, I think I have started to sense a pattern when it comes to the types of songs I love. I am just so fascinated by songs with simple lyrics, yet complex stories. This is another one of those songs. The lyrics couldn’t be more simple and effortless, yet there is a whole world behind every line that could be its own story. My favorite line of the entire song is: “Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station, every Friday night.” On paper, it may seem very straightforward. Yet, my mind wanders off into many scenarios from that one line. I see Terry walking up to Julie as she sits on a bench in front of the train station. I imagine the types of conversations they have together every night, holding hands, their eyes glowing from the reflection of the sunset in front of them. I imagine how they met. I imagine them growing old together. It’s just one of those lines that takes your mind into a million different places.
Anyway, the song starts off with lyrics about the river flowing and the busy hustle and bustle of people and traffic. The narrator feels overwhelmed, perhaps by the chaos, stating he feels “dizzy” from observing all the people passing by.
But I don’t need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise
The narrator finds comfort in finding the one simple thing around him: the sunset. Watching the sunset, he finds peace in the solidarity. It is all he needs. He doesn’t need a Julie to his Terry. He seeks solace in the sunset.
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
Next, we see the narrator acknowledging our protagonists of the story, Terry and Julie. It seems as if the narrator knows these two simply from observing and watching them over time. Or, perhaps they are acquaintances of his. Regardless, we see again here that the narrator enjoys watching from the outside, as he does not have the energy to be involved. He does not feel lonely in his solitude though, because again, he has the sunset to comfort him and bring him that sense of stability and company.
Millions of people swarming like flies
Round Waterloo underground
But Terry and Julie cross over the river
Where they feel safe and sound
In this last verse we again feel the chaotic energy of the crowds that the narrator is watching. But, only Terry and Julie matter in this moment, and the bridge takes them to a safe haven. We see a shift now from the narrator’s feelings, to Terry and Julie’s:
And they don’t need no friends
As long as they gaze on Waterloo sunset
They are in paradise
Terry and Julie find the same relief that the narrator does in the sunset and the scenery. They only need each other and that colorful blend of sky to feel as if they have everything they need.
So, after explaining how I interpret the lyrics, it is pretty clear to me why I resonate with this song so much. This is going to sound lame but bear with me here:
Growing up, as a kid in middle school and high-school, I always described myself as a bubbly, outgoing person. I loved making new friends and I sought out my energy in other people. But, by the time my junior year of college rolled around, everything began changing for me and I started to evolve into almost a completely different person, but in the most soul-fulfilling way possible. I truly started to understand myself and who I was as a person and what I valued in life. I took many solo trips down this beautiful dirt road to watch the sunset. I started hanging out less and less with people. Large crowds and parties honestly sounded like torture to me. I really enjoyed spending time with myself, my few close friends, and with nature and music. I have always loved sunsets and sunrises my entire life. Heck, my college essay was about a sunrise I had watched in 2012 that changed my life. But, by 20 years old, I found that same solace and comfort in sunsets that the narrator of our story felt. I truly feel that when I am watching a sunset, everything in the world is good and pure, even if just for that brief moment. I don’t need anything or anyone else. It truly is pure bliss for me, and I feel so connected with this song because of that. It’s like everything I’ve ever wanted to say about the way I feel and view the world in 3 minutes and 14 seconds.
To me, this song sounds like every sweet moment you’ve ever had with someone. Like, so sweet that you forget about anything that person has ever done to make you sad or angry or frustrated; just those truly pure moments you have with a person that make you feel like human connection is the most beautiful gift we have been given. Yet, it also sounds nostalgic; because those sweet moments you have with a person never last forever. And sometimes, you just really long for those moments and feelings again. And you look back on them, and they make you feel happy and grateful, but also a little melancholy. Because you wonder if you will ever get that again.
The melodies and whimsical “oohs” combined with Davies’ fragile and buttery voice make this song insanely pleasing to the ear. The instruments are simple as well, adding that dreamy element to the song (I mean, let’s not forget this song was literally founded in a dream so it’s only fitting). A simple blend of acoustic guitar, bass and some high hats are really all this song needs. The only complaint I have about this song is that it ends too damn fast and too suddenly. I’ve listened to this song so many times since I first heard it and yet every time, I am so surprised with how fast it ends because I just never see it coming.
Wrapping It Up
I hope you all enjoyed reading my take on this song. I would love to hear what you all think as well in the comments below! The beauty of this song is that it can really be interpreted the way the listener wants it to mean. There is no one meaning. Additionally, it can just be a simple story to the listener if it wants to be. All I know is this is one for the long run for me. This song will be added to the list of my classic, timeless favorites and will hopefully be with me for many a sunset and many good times down the road. I will leave you off with a few links as always. First, the song itself for those who may have never heard it. Secondly, a video of Jackson Browne and Ray Davies performing it at the Norwegian Wood Festival in 2015. We love a good Jackson Browne performance. And third, the link to the article I mentioned earlier. Stay healthy everyone!
Happy to hear you’re enjoying Colorado! I got to know the Kinks music as part of the “British Invasion.” Mostly their bigger hits, but I always enjoyed Waterloo Sunset as a happy tune with a nice-simple melody. I never delved deep into the lyrics and story, so thanks! You’re right that the simplest songs are sometimes the best! The only Kinks record i own is a 12″ single of “Superman” a great recording and maybe their most “produced” (almost disco) sound. Keep on truckin’!