FAVOURITE SONGS: 'Days', SUNNY AFTERNOON
In our new column, THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE SONGS, BroadwayWorld writers discuss their top picks from musical theatre. Let us know your favourite!
Perhaps better known as a Top 20 hit for pop star Kirsty MacColl, "Days" was in fact written by Ray Davies, and a version of the song features at a turning point in the plot of the Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon.
In reality a song most likely written about a lover, in the show it marks the end for upper-class managers Wace and Collins, following the departure of bassist Pete Quaife. Ray tries to persuade them to stay on, but Wace insists "it's a bad idea to mix with other classes". As if to make amends, and to say a meaningful farewell to the remaining band members, he begins to sing:
Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me.
With the five of them scattered across the stage, unsure of what will happen next, first Collins joins in and then Ray, Dave and Mick follow suit.
Following this tentative start, they then drive the song on in earnest - Wace taking the lead and continuing a cappella, with the rest in total unison. It is at this point that song and movement start to work together, with the three remaining Kinks accepting their managers' resignation and bidding them a heartfelt goodbye. Wace and Collins may not have been the most competent in the business (even described as "dilettantes" by fellow manager Eddie Kassner), but now they can all acknowledge the part they each played in reaching this moment.
Leading up to the song, both Collins and Wace admit how much enjoyment they had in their few years of management - and only a short while before that the whole audience gets whipped up into euphoria as Ray rediscovers his mojo and pens "Sunny Afternoon" at the height of World Cup fever. Without each other, their lives would have taken very different paths, and I think that's something everyone watching can also relate to.
Sadness turns to acceptance as they forget their anger towards each other and think back fondly over their friendship. As they finish saying their last individual goodbyes, they almost try to will any remaining sadness away:
I wish today could be tomorrow
The night is dark
It just brings sorrow, let it wait.
By this point all five have now converged centre stage, together as a group for one last time, and the mood definitely shifts. You can sense the hope that they're feeling as they look out to the audience and the future. It's their final chance to say what needs to be said before they part ways, and it's almost as if they're determined to make this a fond memory too - so they can look back on it and know things ended amicably.
Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I'm thinking of the days
I won't forget a single day, believe me.
Over the two years Sunny Afternoon was in the West End I became a dedicated fan of the show, regularly seeing both the original and then the second cast. I had my own favourite moments, but "Days" held a real poignancy at certain times; at both cast change and West End closure, for example, it seemed like a way for us to say goodbye and thank you to them, as well as for their characters to do so to each other. It may well evoke the same emotions in the final performances of the current tour.
It also stands out from the rest of the show by virtue of its arrangement. There are some other quiet moments, but this unaccompanied five-part harmony piece is quite frequently the time when you can hear a penny drop as the audience sits transfixed.
I bless the light
I bless the light that shines on you, believe me.
Given that Sunny Afternon is about a band from the Sixties, often a significant proportion of the audience are fans of The Kinks from back in the day, and "Days" is credited with being the moment that makes grown men cry! Its beauty is in its simplicity: storytelling through the power of the human voice. I defy you not to get misty-eyed when you listen to it.
And though you're gone
You're with me every single day
Picture credit: Kevin Cummins