Big Star’s September Gurls and the Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset – Their respective jaw dropping awesomeness is well established and beyond dispute, yes, and Waterloo is held by many to be the most sheerly beautiful song rock and roll has produced. Still, for the past couple of days I’ve see-saw-ing wildly between them trying to decide, in the end, which song is just a bit more gorgeous.
What’s fascinating about the songs how similar they are – from a certain vantage, they are practically cousins. Musically they share a basic structure – a seemingly haphazard and unstable combination of gossamer delicacy and muscular sinew. That fragile balance underscores the the poignancy of each song perfectly – in the case of Waterloo a single life affirming moment when Paradise blooms on earth – while with Gurls, the way we drift back and forth from heartache to resignation and back again. And each seems on the verge of flying apart, mimicking the impermanence, hence the magic, of life itself.
I dunno… I think in the end September Gurls gets the nod. When I fall down the rabbit hole of Waterloo Sunset my reverie is intense but short. The sunset is Ray Davies’ vision, not mine, and it never really transfers. Where as with Gurls, the needle always drops down somewhere deep in my memories and I feel like I could fall between the spaces of “I loved you” and “Well never mind” and September and December forever.