Bob Marley & The Wailers : Stir it up

In June 1975 there was no doubt among the music cognoscenti as to what was the hottest ticket in town.

I was, of course, one of the Cognoscenti, having devoured every issue the New Musical Express, Melody Maker and Rolling Stone had issued for the previous 3 years.

I had also clocked up many thousands of hours spinning my vinyl and tuning in to the pathfinder Radio Disc Jockeys – John Peel, Charlie Gillett and David Rodigan.

The headlines and the airwaves trumpeted : Bob Marley and The Wailers were about to play 2 historic concerts at London’s Lyceum Theatre.

Be There or be Square!

I was there.

And, that’s definitely me you hear roaring approval on the ensuing Album, ‘Live!’ as classic performance succeeded classic performance (mind you several hundred other attendees will claim it’s their full throated acclaim which is captured).

This was one of those nights when we knew we were participants in a legendary occasion.  Since then of course for every person who was actually there a hundred more who weren’t  have claimed they were  there – right by the stage.

I was a teenager when I went to this gig yet decades on it remains in my top three concert experiences.

With this gig Bob Marley and The Wailers announced themselves as a group of tne very first rank – in the same class as The Rolling Stones.

They had the songs courtesy of Bob Marley who had a profound gift for creating words and melodies that seemed like old friends even on first hearing.

And, Bob could write every type of song.

Lyrical love songs. Angry political songs. Philosophical musings.

Anthems for a nation and the generations.

And every one lifts the spirit, warms the heart and has you dancing until you’re dizzy!

They had the musical chops.

Carlton Barrett on Drums and Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett on Bass were a peerless rhythm section fully the equal of Al Jackson and Duck Dunn from Booker T & The MGs.

Sweetening was provided by Tyrone Downie on keyboards, Al Anderson on guitar and Alvin Patterson on percussion.

Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt lent heavenly vocal support.

They had the front man.

Bob Marley was effortlessly charismatic.

Impossible to take your eyes off him as he moved about the stage as relaxed as if it was his own front room.

Bob Marley & The Wailers had all those qualities and that extra mysterious X Factor, that special something, that bonds a band to each other and the audience to the band.

Combine all these factors – and before you know it you’ve slipped gravity’s bounds and you’re headed for the stars!

Now, when the Album of the concert was released it was immediately recognised as a landmark recording and, ‘No Woman, No Cry’ in particular became a radio and Jukebox staple and a song beloved far beyond the specialist Reggae fan base.

But. But. But.

There was something missing from the Album.

To whit, my favourite Bob Marley song ever – ‘Stir It Up’ which was played on both of those magical nights.

Why it was left off I’ll never know.

So, when I want to listen to a live version of, Stir It Up’ I turn to the internet and find there are many versions to choose from but one clear winner.

A British TV appearance from 1974 featuring the Uber cool Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer as well as the Barretts.

The groove they sustain here is one of the prime examples of the assurance a great band can achieve when they’re perfectly in sync with each other and their material

Surely, this is pure Zen!

Everything in balance.

Everything in harmony.

Pure Flow.

Every time I hear this I wish it would go on forever!

Stir it up.

Stir it up.

Stir it Up.

James Bond says things are better shaken rather than stirred.

That might be true for a Martini .. but for everything else in Life I recommend stirring rather than shaking.

Like Bob says if you want to satisfy your heart’s desire come on and …

Stir it up.

Stir it up

Stir it together.

Declan O’Rourke, Eddi Reader : Galileo (Someone Like You)

Love can make you ask funny questions now and then.

Who puts the rainbow in the sky?

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Who lights the stars at night?

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Questions we, and all those who have gone before us, and all those who follow after us, will ask as long as we live.

Ptolemy and Herschel and Hipparchus looking up into the heavens observed, recorded and wondered.

Kepler and Tycho Brahe and Copernicus pursued the same quest.

Eratosthenes and Messier and Hubble were fellow seekers.

As was Galileo.

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Looking up, we can be sure all of them sighed and sometimes cried because though the stars are fixed in the sky the course of love, as we all know to our cost, is always erratic.

Ah, what is the stars? What is the stars?

Mansions built by Nature’s hand.

Dome and vault and nest.

Steadfast watchers of the moving waters and the snow upon the mountains and moors.

Light streaming.

Light Years. Light Years. Light Years.

Dropping silently, thick as stones, into the picket of trees.

Catch a falling star and teach me to hear the mermaids singing.

Look at the stars!

Look, look up at the skies!

O look at all the fire folk!

Circle citadels.

Diamond delves.

Airy abeles aflare.

Borrow a bonnet of the Lark and a Chamois’ silver boot and go.

The heart leaps beholding the rainbow in the sky.

A perfectly ordinary rainbow.

The morning stars sang together.

Signs in the Sun and in the moon and in the stars.

Seven stars in the right hand.

A crown of twelve stars.

Love can make you ask some funny questions now and then.

Who dreamt up someone so divine – someone like you and made them mine?

Lonely, unhappy, lips as cold as ice but you kissed me and good heavens!

No more a dark and distant star.

Now I’m here in Paradise.

Paradise.

Who put the rainbow in the sky?

Who lights the stars at night.

 

Galileo (Someone Like You) – a divine song written by Declan O’Rourke and Seamus Cotter.

Sung by Declan, on his debut Album, with innocent assurance.

The assurance of someone who sounds a true note.

Galileo will always be the signature song of Declan’s career though he has subsequently written and recorded many very fine songs.

When he recorded it in 2004 he thought that the song was an indulgence and that nobody outside him and his family would be interested.

Yet, when people heard this song there was an immediate sigh of recognition.

For, who has not looked up and wondered who put the rainbow in the sky?

Who has not wondered who lights the stars at night?

Who has not been lonely and unhappy with lips as cold as ice?

And, good heavens, who has not, even once, for once is all it takes, been kissed and found themselves in paradise?

Who invented such a joy?

Who has not wondered then who dreamt up someone so divine and made them mine?

So don’t be blind and don’t cry.

Look up high and gladly sigh.

Eddi Reader, as true and fair a voice as you can ever hope to find, lights up the heavens here accompanied by the RTE Concert Orchestra.

Look up and gladly sigh.

Look at the stars!

Look, look up at the skies!

O look at all the fire folk!

Don’t be blind and don’t you cry.

Look up high and gladly sigh,

And you might find you’re in Paradise.

Love can make you ask some funny questions now and then.

Who puts the rainbow in the sky?

Who lights the stars at night?

We will all have a blind and dying day.

Until then …

Look up high and sigh and be thankful.

 

Notes :

I highly recommend all of Declan’s recorded output :

‘Since Kyabram’, ‘Big Bad Beautiful World’ ‘Mag Pai Zai’, ‘Gold Bars in the Sun’, ‘In Full Colour’ and ‘Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine’.

Declan has an informative website declanorourke.com which features a fascinating documentary revisiting the making of his debut Album.

Paul Weller said about Declan :

‘He writes the sort of classic songs that people don’t write anymore, songs that sound like they’ve been around forever. Listen to Galileo, which is possibly the greatest song written in the last thirty years.’

Galileo has been recorded by Eddi Reader, Mary Byrne and Josh Groban among others.

There is a stunning version by Camille O’Sullivan which I will feature when I write a Post with her as the subject later this year.

Credit for starry inspiration properly due to :

William Wordsworth, John Keats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, Les Murray (RIP), Sylvia Plath and The King James Bible.

George Harrison, James Ray : Got My Mind Set on You

‘It’s gonna take time, a whole lot of precious time ….’ (Rudy Clark/James Ray)

‘A true message always gets through – sometimes it just takes a while’ (Immortal Jukebox)

On 7 February 1964 Pan Am Flight 101 took off from London’s Heathrow Airport bound for New York City.

Thousands of young women, barely controlled by massed ranks of British Bobbies in blue, screamed and sobbed as the plane took off.

For this was no ordinary flight.

No, for Pan Am 101 was carrying a very special group of passengers whose arrival in America that day would change the course of History.

Those passengers were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – The Beatles!

When they touched down at JFK they were greeted by scenes of pandemonium as fans and the media pushed and shoved to get their first glimpse of the Fab Four.

The ‘British Invasion’ had begun and from that day on for the rest of the decade there was no question about who the most popular and successful group in the world was and who were the most famous and instantly recognisable faces on the entire planet.

But, before an invasion there is usually a reconnaissance.

You send a scout ahead.

And, for The Beatles, the scout was George Harrison.

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For though The Beatles didn’t land on the soil of the Promised Land until February 1964 George had spent two weeks there in September 1963.

How come?

Well, George was the youngest of the three Harrison siblings.

Brother Peter was three years older than George but Sister Louise was 12 years older and long before The Beatles were even a madcap dream in the minds of John and Paul she had left the grim austerity of post War Liverpool to travel the world with her mining engineer husband.

And, in September 1963, she was living at 113 McCann Street, Benton, Illinois a coal town with a population of under 10, 000 souls.

After the release of ‘She Loves You’ in Britain in August 1963 Brain Epstein decided that in view of the immense workload they had already completed and the even more taxing plans he had for their future it was time The Beatles took a break.

John went to Paris while Paul and Ringo jetted off to Greece.

George, with brother Peter, went to Benton to visit Louise, arriving there on September 16th.

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His time in Benton would be for George, as Paris and Greece would be for his fellow Beatles, the last time they could ever walk the streets of any town or city without being instantly recognised and/or mobbed.

George would always remember his first, incognito, exposure to American culture and wonder at the freedom of being able to wander at will wherever he pleased.

On that trip he bought a Rickenbacker at the Fenton Music Store at 601 South 10th Street, Mt Vernon, IL for $400.

He would play this on the pioneering UK TV Show, Ready, Steady, Go’ on 4 October.

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Along with Louise he hitchhiked to Radio Station WFRX and presented them with a mint copy of, ‘She Loves You’.

He also hooked up with a guy called Gabe McCarty a member of a local group called the Four Vests and on 28 September George took the stage with them at The Veterans Hall in Eldorado.

The patrons that night were the first Americans to hear George rip into, ‘Johnny B Goode’, ‘Matchbox’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’.

George flew back to England on October 3rd.

In his luggage, along with the precious Rickenbacker, was more treasure in the form of vinyl.

George, a true fan of music as well as a musician, had haunted the record stores in Illinois and NYC looking for gems that were hard to find at home.

No one in the stores had ever heard of The Beatles but the shelves groaned with records that George had only ever read about in magazines or heard about from American musicians he had met in Hamburg.

He bought a lot of premium Blues and R&B sides by the likes of Booker T and the MGs and Bobby Bland.

His eye was particularly caught by an LP bearing the name of James Ray on the Caprice Label.

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He knew the name because The Beatles had been regularly featuring Ray’s hauntingly other-worldly, ‘If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody’ since Paul had found a copy at Brian Epstein’s NEMS Record Shop.

Spinning the platter back at 113 McCann he became especially fond of one track in particular – ‘I’ve Got My Mind Set On You’ and his love and admiration for the song would survive the madness of Beatlemania and the glory days of his solo career.

George could instantly recognise that there was a keening, spiritual, quality in James’ voice that gave a profound allure to everything he sang.

Sing it James!

 

The song was written by Rudy Clark who had written, ‘If You Gotta ..’ and would go on to write, ‘Good Lovin’, ‘Its in His Kiss’, and, ‘Everybody plays The Fool’ among other Hits.

The, ‘Let’s try everything we can think of’ arrangement was by Hutch Davie who had played the piano on, ‘Green Door’ and arranged Santo & Johnny’s wonderful guitar instrumental, ‘Sleepwalk’.

What lifts the track beyond a novelty of its time is James Rays’ stunning vocal.

James can really sing.

There is a yearning, as long as I’m singing this song I can make it through, quality to James’ voice which makes me hit the repeat button repeatedly every time I play any side he ever cut (and tragically there are probably less than 30).

You get the sense that there are ghosts hovering round James whispering secrets from beyond the veil and that James can’t help but hear even though he knows those voices are calling him to follow to the lands across the Styx.

We know so little about this wonderful artist.

It seems he was born James Ray Raymond in Washington D.C in 1941 and that he served some time in the Military.

He first appears on record in 1959 as, ‘Little Jimmy Ray’ (he was all of 5ft tall on tip toe) but it is not until he hooked up with Rudy Clark and Gerry Granahan at Caprice Records that he made anything that stirred the airwaves or set the nickels flowing on The Jukeboxes.

‘If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody’ has been recorded by Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Ben E King, Lou Rawls and Bobby Gentry – superb artists all – yet not one of them has approached the spectral grace of James’ version (I plan to write a dedicated Post on the song later this year).

It seems that James had a drug problem and that when he was, ‘discovered’ by Rudy Clark he was homeless and finding such shelter as he could on apartment block rooftops.

He only recorded one LP and even the date and place of his death and where he is buried are unknown.

It seems likely that he was already dead when The Beatles landed at JFK.

In a business filled with tragic tales James’ tale is among the most tragic.

Yet, thanks to George Harrison and the other luminaries his name lives on at least for those who read sleeve notes and song writing credits.

George recorded his take on  ‘I’ve Got My Mind Set On You’ some 24 years after he first encountered it back in Benton.

His version is considerably more upbeat in tone than James’.

The song was recorded in George’s home studio within Friary Park his 120 room neo-gothic mansion.

Stellar musicians like Jim Keltner on Drums and Jim Horn on Saxophone feature on a characteristically multi layered production by Jeff Lynne who also provides creamy backing vocals.

This record is very much a 1980s record with a big sound that along with the winning video demolished all hesitation in the record buying public.

A Number One Hit!

It is not inconceivable that many seeing the song on MTV did not know this George Harrison fellow’s History!

Certainly not one in 10,000 who bought the record knew anything about James Ray.

But George did and I can’t help but think he had a thought for James as he recorded it and when he played it live.

 

 

Talking of live action here’s George giving the song the full lash in Japan backed by Eric Clapton’s ensemble.

Now, I love George’s version but it’s not the one I sometimes wake up singing.

No, it’s James Ray’s version which lingers like morning mist in my imagination.

James Ray’s voice was stilled some sad day in the mid 1960s but the eerie sound of his voice will always echo on and on.

Sing it James.

 

Notes and Call for Information!

There’s an excellent website toppermost,co.uk (Twitter @AgeingRaver) which publishes highly informative and entertaining top 10s on many artists beloved by The Jukebox.

The entry on James Ray written by the learned Dave Stephens (Twitter @DangerousDaveXX) is excellent.

The only CD I can find for James Ray is, ‘If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody – Golden Classics’ on the Gotham Label. Only 12 tracks and poorly presented but every track demands your attention.

If anyone knows anything more about James Ray’s life and death please let me know.

Also there’s surely a great documentary to be made about George’s time in Benton and about the fellow passengers on Pan Am 101 – again anyone who has any stories let me know!

The Kinks : Waterloo Sunset – An Unfading Glory!

 

I woke up this holiday weekend to the sound of magnificent birds hosannaing the dawn.

As the coffee brewed I switched on my radio and learned that 52 years ago to the day The  Kinks released what will always be my favourite 45rpm single of all time.

The cultural historians of a thousand years hence will without question point to this Ray Davies masterpiece when they want to demonstrate the beauty those 1960s troubadours were capable of achieving.

So, today, 52 years on, The Jukebox punches once again the button and the unfading glory that is Waterloo Sunset floods the heart, mind and spirit with light and hope.

Ray Davies said :

It’s about how innocence will prevail over adversity. It starts out delicate, but by the end has become awesome in its power. Those triumphant chords come in, and the angels tell you everything is going to be OK”.

Everything is going to be OK.

And, that’s a message that will always be welcome.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

Thank you Ray and God Bless The Kinks!

 

‘The most beautiful song in the English language’ (Robert Christgau)

‘Divine … a masterpiece’ (Pete Townsend)

‘As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset I am in paradise’ (Ray Davies)

A song about : London, The River, A Lonely Man and Two Lovers by A Great Songwriter leading a great Group.

The Voice of London:

It is, of course, a song about London.

Londinium. The Capital. The Big Smoke.

Now, there are other fine cities on other great rivers in this nation.

But, but, there is only one London.

And, if you want to find out who you are, not who you’ve been told you are, and how far you can go – well then, London, London, is the place to be.

Nowhere else. Nowhere else.

Kings and Conquerors. Poets and Peasants. Saints, Sinners and Scholars.

Those looking for the limelight and others looking to hide out – they’re all drawn to London.

Thinkers and Tinkers. Songwriters and Singers.

Look around! They’re all here.

All here telling stories. Making dramas.

Tired of London, tired of life.

Come for joy, jasper of jocunditie.

Come for a mighty mass of brick and smoke and shipping.

Treasures in its depths.

Confront your counterparts – hero or villain, mountebank or mystic.

Find yourself. Get lost.

Work, work, work or lounge and idle away your days.

All around you beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics and the one, the one, just waiting for you.

For you.

Ray Davies. A watchful London boy who became a watchful London man and artist.

Alive to all the sights and sounds and atmospheres on the breeze, in the fog, in the streets and alleyways of his home town.

Watching the people. Watching the taxi lights shine so bright.

Aware of the lovers meeting on Friday night and the lonely friendless souls in the chilly, chilly, evening time.

Aware of the dirty old river flowing, flowing into the night.

Aware that the same world can be frightening and a paradise at the same time – it all depends where you are standing and what you see.

Lovers finding each other and finding themselves.

Making plans to stay. Making plans to leave.

Somewhere they’ll be safe and sound. Together.

Millions swarming round Waterloo Underground.

Every one with a story.

Every one dizzy with the possibilities of London Town.

Every one looking to be found and to be safe and sound as the chilly, chilly, evening descends.

Every one feeling London, London, all around them.

Day flows into night. Spring flows into Summer. Summer flows into Autumn and on and on, always, into Winter.

Chilly, chilly, is evening time.

But, but, look up, look around!

Gaze out on the Sunset.

The Waterloo Sunset.

Bathing London in balm.

Flooding the heart and soul with feeling.

A Feeling more powerful than all your fears.

As long as Londoners can gaze out on Waterloo Sunset they are in paradise.

Paradise. Paradise.

It is, of course, a Song about London.

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The Voice of The River:

It is, of course, a Song about The River.

The Thames. Father Thames.

Rivers make Cities. Before the City there’s always The River.

Flowing through the ages. Flowing, flowing through time.

Carving out the landscape.

Liquid History. Liquid History.

Long before London, millennia before London, the River flowed.

The dark waters of River flow by the bridges and the burial grounds.

Past the wharfs and the jetties.

Past the piers and the palaces.

The River flows on when the roads are blocked.

The River flows on as the houses crumble into dust when the bombs fall.

The River flows on as the Romans arrrve and leave.

As the Vikings arrive and leave.

As Kings build palaces to rule for evermore.

As parliaments of men and women overthrow the divine right of monarchs.

They build walls round cities.

The River flows on. Free.

When the fires burn and the earth buckles and splits turn to The River.

The River will always flow on as long as the world turns.

Come to the River. Come to the River.

Mystics and Mudllarks.

Poets and Pirates.

Novelists and Ne’er do Wells.

Songwriters and Singers.

I will flow through your heart and soul.

I will fill your imagination to the brim.

Turner and Canaletto. Monet and Whistler. Stanley Spencer.

River Painters. Haunted by waters.

Humans are haunted by waters.

Haunted.

Dickens and Kenneth Grahame. Pepys and Conrad.

Wordsworth and Eliot.

River Writers. River Writers.

The River glideth at its own sweet will.

The River sweats oil and tar.

Stand by the River.

As the chilly, chilly, evening descends.

Look around. Look at your life.

Wipe your eyes. Wipe your eyes.

Try not to notice you’ve fallen in love (or out of love).

Breathe. Breathe.

Ray Davies. Looking out on the River from the terraces of St Thomas’ Hospital when he was just 13.

Watching the River flow. Flowing on through the day into the night.

Watching the yellow fog settle over the River’s dark waters.

The River.

Always the same. Always different. Like his life.

A River he walked by waiting to become the artist he knew he was.

The River he walked by with melodies and words dancing in his head.

The River he walked by making plans for a future for himself, his wife and his family.

Walking, dreaming, by those dark waters.

Watching the River flowing, flowing, flowing.

Watching the lights reflected in the River’s dark waters.

Watching Lovers crossing over the River.

Looking for somewhere to be safe and sound.

Watching the Lovers looking deep into the dark waters looking for a glimpse of their future together.

Watching Lovers seeking the River’s blessing.

Watching the friendless lonely souls gazing out over the River.

Watching the millions of souls emerging from Waterloo Underground waiting to cross The River.

Watching them turn up their collars against the chilly, chilly, evening time as the wind blows in off the River.

Watching them look deep into the dark waters looking for an answer to questions too secret to ask out loud.

Watching them watching the River flow on. Flow on.

Watching the Sunset, the Waterloo Sunset, sink over the River.

Flooding the heart and soul with golden light.

The River flows on through Spring and Summer into Autumn and on and on, always into Winter.

Chilly, Chilly, is evening time.

But, but, stand by The River.

As the dark waters flow look into the sunset.

The Waterloo Sunset.

Bathing The River in balm.

Flooding, flooding, the heart and soul with feeling.

A feeling more powerful than all your fears.

As long as you can stand by the River and those dark waters and gaze out on Waterloo Sunset you are in paradise.

Paradise. Paradise.

It is, of course, a Song about The River.

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The Voice of a Lonely Man:

It is, of course, a Song of a Lonely Man.

I’m a Londoner all my life. I’ve lived by The River all my life.

Seventy five years.

1967 now.

I was born in the 1800’s!

London and The River. Always the same. Always different.

London, The River and me. We’ve been through a lot.

We’ve seen two World Wars. I fought in the First one.

They call that The Great War. I lost a lot of pals, London pals.

Men who worked on the River with me.

It can make you lonely thinking of them.

Sometimes, as the chilly evening descends and I look into the dark waters of the River I think I can see them still, as they were, young men with bright smiles, bright smiles, making plans for after the War.

War teaches you that God laughs at your plans.

War teaches you fear and teaches you friends can lose their heartbeat in one of yours.

London was a hard old place in the 1930s.

Depression. They called it the Great Depression.

No work. For year after year after year.

Amazing we didn’t have a Revolution.

Still, somehow we got through.

I met Daisy, my wife, walking across Waterloo Bridge.

We were both looking down into the dark waters.

Watching the River flow on into the night.

Watching the taxi lights shining as the chilly evening descended.

I suppose we were both lost until we found each other.

Then, suddenly, we were safe and sound.

When we were courting (no one uses that word anymore!) we used to meet every Friday night at Waterloo Station.

There must be millions, millions, passing through there every day.

Funny though, as soon as I saw Daisy it always seemed as if they was just the two of us.

Safe and sound together.

Together, we didn’t need no friends and no matter how dark the times or chilly the evening we didn’t feel afraid.

We had each other.

Until the Second War.

A bomb can fall out of the sky and in a heartbeat your heart is broken and never the same again.

Never the same.

I did my best with the Nipper. But a girl, especially, needs a Mother.

She went out to Australia on one of those Assisted Passages.

A Tenner taking you tens of thousands of miles!

I get a card at Christmas and she says she’ll visit in a year or so.

Maybe, she’ll get married and I’ll be a Grandfather. I’d like that.

They say I’m lucky to have a flat in this block.

I preferred it when you had a garden and streets on the ground not in the sky.

Especially when the lifts break down.

One thing I will say. You get fantastic views out the window from the tenth floor.

I like listening to the radio and watching the football on the TV.

But mainly I like to look at the world from my window. From my window.

There’s a lot going on if you take the time to look.

The River keeps on flowing.

Always the same always different.

Something to do with the way it reflects to the light.

It’s a dirty old River. Oil and tar. But, it’s my River.

They say this Clean Air Act will have it sparkling again – alive with Fish.

Not sure I will be around for that day.

People are so busy these days.

They must make themselves dizzy rushing about.

Never time to stop and stare or to say hello to an old man looking into the dark waters of the River.

I like it when the chilly evening descends.

The taxi lights shine bright and somehow people look well in the dark.

I’ve noticed a couple meeting every Friday night just like me and Daisy did.

I call them Terry and Julie after that song on the radio about the Sunset.

Waterloo Sunset.

I don’t know much about this beat music but the chap who wrote that song knows a lot about London and The River and Love and Loneliness.

It’s a song that has happiness and sadness running right through it like a river.

You can tell they love each other and that they feel safe and sound when they’re together.

I stay home at night. But I don’t feel feel afraid.

I don’t need no friends anymore.

I got my memories.

And, no matter how chilly the evening there’s warmth in the Sunset.

So I am safe and sound.

And, I know that today will flow on into tomorrow and that Spring will flow into Summer and on into Autumn and always, always into Winter.

Of course the evening is chilly.

But, looking out my window I can gaze on the Sunset.

Friends or no friends.

I gaze on the Sunset.

The Waterloo Sunset.

And, somehow, that Sunset is more powerful than any fear.

As long as I can gaze out on Waterloo Sunset I am in paradise.

Paradise. Paradise.

That song. Well, of course, it’s about a Lonely Man.

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The Voice of Two Lovers:

Well, of course, it’s a Song about two Lovers. Us.

What else could it be about?

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When you’re in love the River flows and the chilly evening and dark waters are your friends.

Terry and Julie. Our names just sound right together.

We meet every Friday night at Waterloo Underground.

Sometimes we just walk across the bridge.

Have a drink by the River and watch the Sunset.

The Waterloo Sunset.

And, it seems we are in paradise.

Paradise.

We’re glad there’s a song about us.

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A Song by a great Songwriter leading a great Group:

Ray Davies is a Londoner.

A Londoner who grew up in a house filled with music and the laughter and warmth generated by loving parents and six older sisters.

Yet, a boy and a man, who needed solitude to give birth to the dreams, the melodies and words in his head.

A young man who found that he had a peculiarly English gift for expressing the bitter sweet aspects of life.

A writer who had been taken by his father to see the Festival of Britain on the South Bank of the River in 1951 where visions of a brave new world offered unlimited promise for the decades ahead.

A writer who seeing these new worlds being born could feel and express the loss as well as the gain in the new glittering times.

A writer who could evoke dreams in black and white as well as colour.

A writer who could evoke the flow of the River, the warmth of the Sunset and the chill of the evening.

A writer who could craft a song that had love and loneliness running through it like a river.

A writer who had as much in common with John Betjeman as he did with Chuck Berry.

The Laureate of English Pop Music.

A writer who could capture the light and the shadows of the world around him.

A world he watched with deep attention.

He took in the dirty old River, it’s dark waters and the glitter of the taxi lights.

The song of The River and the view from the windows above.

He gave voice to the young lovers and the lonely old man holding them in the embrace of his voice, his words and his aching melody.

A writer and performer who could make dark waters and the chilly, chilly, evening alive before us.

A writer who could tell the story of two lovers out of the millions of people emerging from Waterloo Underground.

Ray Davies was also a bandleader and producer who could capture all those elements in a record that will live as long as the dark waters flow and the sun sets over the River.

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To do this he needed the skill and commitment of his brother Dave Davies and brothers in arms Pete Quaife and Mick Avory.

He needed The Kinks.

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Together they created in the studio a great record from a great song.

The lovely bass line moves through the song like a stately barge ploughing through the tide of the River.

Dave Davies’ guitar using tape delay echo has a melancholy grace holding us in thrall throughout.

Mick Avory’s drums flow on like the River and alert us to the crescendos of feeling as the song moves to its climax.

Together The Kinks with Rsy’s first wife, Rasa, give us perhaps the most heart rending harmony vocals of the era.

So, it’s a song about London.

About The River.

About a Lonely Man.

About Two Lovers.

A song that flows on through the decades.

A song that will always flow on because Rivers always flow and evenings always get chilly.

Because, as long as we can listen to Waterloo Sunset we can, for those few minutes, be in
paradise.

In Paradise.

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Time to hear it again:

Ray Davies is reported to have said that he was sure he had written the best song of the year in 1967.

I’ll go further.

I think in Waterloo Sunset he wrote the finest English song of the entire 1960s.

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