This song made it to Number #2 on the British Pop Charts. I heard it recently in a romantic-comedy film made in London called, oddly, "French Film" (2009) . The cover song over the end titles of that film was done by The Rushes, a newer group. This got me wanting to find the original song. For some reason I'd never heard it.
"The Kinks" were well-known in America at this time because of "You Really Got Me" and other hits. However, they were restricted from playing in America for four years due to immigration issues possibly involving some violence between two band members. This song, therefore, never got the airplay it deserved in the USA.
This video (by EastEndMods) features footage and pictures of modern Waterloo Station and scenes of the beautiful Julie Christie and the still-active Terence Stamp from the moody gothic film "Far From the Madding Crowd" from the year before this song was released. Ray Davies of The Kinks considered this version a landmark for the group.
Ray Davies (From Uncut magazine January 2009): "It came to me first as a statement about the death of Merseybeat. But I realized that Waterloo was a very significant place in my life. I was in St. Thomas' Hospital when I was really ill as a child, and I looked out on the river. I went to Waterloo every day to go to college as well. The song was also about being taken to the Festival of Britain with my mum and dad. I remember them taking me by the hand, looking at the big Skylon tower, and saying it symbolized the future. That, and then walking by the Thames with my first wife (Rasa, who left Ray, taking his two daughters, in 1973) and all the other dreams that we had. Her in her brown suede coat that she wore, that was stolen. And also about my sisters, and about the world I wanted them to have. The two characters in the song, Terry and Julie, are to do with the aspirations of my sisters' generation, who grew up during the Second world War and missed out on the '60s.
Sometimes when you're writing and you're really on good form, you get into the frame of mind where you think, I can relate to any of these things. It's something I learned at art school-let all the ideas flow out. But if you listen to the words without the music, it's a different thing entirely. The lyrics could be better. But they dovetail with the music perfectly."