Clips & Pix: Peter Gabriel/Waterloo Sunset

When I love a song as much as I do Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks, I tend to be hyper-critical about covers from other music acts, especially when they make changes. In this case, not only did I not mind it, but I was truly blown away when I heard Peter Gabriel’s rendition the other day.

Waterloo Sunset, written by Ray Davies, first appeared in May 1967 as the lead single of Something Else by the Kinks, the group’s fifth UK studio album released in mid-September of the same year. Together with Death of a Clown, Waterloo Sunset became one of two hits the record generated, climbing to no. 2 in the UK on the singles chart. Elsewhere, it topped the charts in The Netherlands, climbed to no. 3 in Ireland, and reached no. 4 in Australia, among others.

The lyrics, which describe the narrator’s thoughts about a couple passing over a bridge, were rumored to have been inspired by the romance of British actors Terence Stamp and Julie Christie. But during a 2008 interview, Davies explained, “It was a fantasy about my sister going off with her boyfriend to a new world and they were going to emigrate and go to another country.”

Peter Gabriel’s transformation of Waterloo Sunset reminds me of the haunting Wallflower from his fourth eponymous studio album released in September 1982. I’d be curious to know whether it grabs you as much as it did me. Check it out!

This rendition of Waterloo Sunset appeared as a bonus track on Gabriel’s eighth studio album Scratch My Back from February 2010. The record consists of cover versions of tunes from a broad variety of other artists. Co-produced by Gabriel and Bob Ezrin, the recordings only use orchestra and voice and have a bare-bones vibe. Based on briefly listening into the remaining tracks, Gabriel’s other renditions don’t work as well for me as Waterloo Sunset.

Initially, Gabriel had planned to release Scratch My Back with a companion album of covers of Gabriel songs performed by the same artists whose tunes he had covered on Scratch My Back. But due to delays, And I’ll Scratch Yours only appeared in September 2013. David Bowie, Neil Young and Radiohead declined to cover Gabriel songs and were “replaced” by Brian Eno, Joseph Arthur and Feist.

Sources: Wikipedia; Spotify

12 thoughts on “Clips & Pix: Peter Gabriel/Waterloo Sunset”

  1. I didn’t think I would like it….nothing against Gabriel but it’s such a Kinks song…but…I did like it! It was a different twist on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I completely understand your initial skepticim, Max. To begin with, the original is such a great tune – and when that’s the case, why mess with it and risk lousing it up?

      Plus, while I also generally like Peter Gabriel, his music can be an acquired taste. Have you listened to his tune “Wallflower”? I’ve come to love it, but it’s not exactly cheerfull!

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      1. Yes I don’t like everything he does but I do like a lot of it. He really did a good job with this…he complimented it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I recall reading before about artists declining to do Gabriel’s songs. Seems a bit odd. Anyway, I once did a “Song I Love” post about this tune. How could you not? I hadn’t heard Gabriel’s version before but I like it quite a bit. And here’s something I stumbled on (forgive the lousy video quality.) It’s Bowie and Ray Davies doing ‘Waterloo Sunset’ together live in 2003.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Jim – love it! Even though I’m sure this joint performance had been planned, it has a charming spontaneous feel to it, including some necessary sound adjustments in the beginning, so the audience could hear Ray’s acoustic guitar – really cool!

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      1. Sorry. It’s interesting to note how a young Bowie toured with the Kinks. Sometimes stars are starstruck by other stars. I was watching an interview of Jon Anderson of Yes. Way back when he was on a bill with The Who. Townsend liked their stuff and he said, “I can’t believe Pete Townshend is talking to *me*.”

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