Original Guitar Arrangement – Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks)

There are songs that really have an impact on people and give the listener a meaningful experience, which is why they become popular.

“Waterloo Sunset” is such a song and I’ve always wanted to learn to play it so I could capture that feeling any time I wanted.

It took some work, but I’ve put an arrangement together that I enjoy playing and I’d like to share it with you.

There’s something melancholy and sad about “Waterloo Sunset” but at the same time hopeful and optimistic.

Waterloo Sunset

That makes sense when we learn the background to Ray Davies and how the song came about.

Ray was born 21st of June 1944 two weeks after the D-Day landing which was 6 June 1944.

So he never knew the war but his six older sisters certainly experienced it and it’s hard for us today to really understand how terrifying it was living through the blitz and the constant bombing for Londoners.

The six Davies girls dotted on their two baby brothers, Ray and his younger brother Dave who also was the guitar player in the kinks.

One of the sisters bought Ray’s first guitar which got the ball rolling for the Davies brothers.

While it was a happy day for Ray receiving his first guitar, the sister that bought it for him had a hole in her heart that was undiagnosed.

She went out dancing with friends that same night and died… leaving the Davie’s Home devastated.

Ray and Dave Davies

At the school they attended one of the teachers suggested that the students put a band together for an upcoming school dance.

So Ray and Dave Davies worked up some songs with a couple of friends, they played at the dance, absolutely loved the experience and that was the beginning of the kinks.

They began playing local pubs and had a series of singers before they settled on Ray as their regular front man.

Ray and Dave Davies

Rod Stewart was one of those singers.

He was a school mate of the Davies boys and lasted with them until he put his own band together.

Ray began writing songs and it wasn’t long before he had a worldwide hit with “You Really Got Me” and the kinks were set on a course that would see them become one of the worlds great rock bands.

They had their ups and downs, including a touring ban of America.

It seems Dave got into a fistfight with someone influential and the American musicians union slapped a ban on the kinks touring the USA which was a huge handicap.

That didn’t stop them from producing chart topping hits and “Waterloo Sunset” was one of a host.

The Kinks career had a few lows but they always seemed to bounce back with songs like “Lola”.

In the mid 70s the Kinks hit another lull but they would be resurrected by pop music’s titan and master strategist Clive Davis.

Years ago, I was in a bookshop just looking through books when I saw a book on sale for $5 called “Think & Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.

For $5 I thought it may be worth picking up and seeing if there’s any wisdom to be had.

The book came about when Andrew Carnegie had become the richest man in the world so Napoleon Hill, a journalist, was sent by his Chicago newspaper to interview Carnegie.

In the course of the interview, he asked “Is there a formula for success?” Carnegie responded “I don’t know but here’s what I’ll do, I’ll fund it and you find out”.

Carnegie instructed hill to interview all the most successful men in America and work out what that formula was.

Napoleon Hill would have been most anxious to have interviewed Clive Davis whose enormous success was built on making other people successful and the list of acts that he created careers for is more than impressive.

A documentary on Clive Davis’s life called “Clive Davis: the soundtrack of our lives” is really worth watching and it’s astonishing to learn of the bands and acts the Clive Davis navigated to success.

Names like Janis Joplin, Santana, Aerosmith, Chicago, Bruce Springsteen and Whitney Houston are just some of those acts.

Clive Davis

The kinks career was flagging when Clive Davis took an interest in resurrecting their fading fortunes which gave them a new life in the 80s.

What is “Waterloo Sunset” about and its message?

I read once where Ray Davies said that it was about his sisters and the generation of girls that lived through World War II and their hopes and dreams to create a better and more optimistic New World.

Just maybe “Terry & Julie” the couple that meet at Waterloo Station in the song is a reference to his sister that moved to Australia with her husband for a new life.

Let me know if you’d like to get a copy of the tablature for my arrangement.

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