Musically, “Sunny Afternoon” is a song which bridges the gap between The Kinks early, mid-sixties garage-rock style and the music-hall-influenced numbers on their concept albums of the late 1960s and early 1970s. While the song’s lyrics focus on an aristocrat with too much time on his hands, the hook and overall vibe give an atmosphere of summertime leisure.
The song was actually written very quickly, within a single morning and during a significant songwriting dry spell for group leader Ray Davies in early 1966. At the time, Davies claims he was only listening to Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra and feels those two disparate influences played a role in this track’s unique structure.
“Sunny Afternoon” was released as a single At the beginning of June 1966 and topped the UK Singles Chart by July, making it an instant summertime hit. It was later included on the Kinks’ album Face to Face, which some consider rock’s first concept album, and the song has been covered by over a dozen artists in the half century since its release. A musical based on the early life of Ray Davies, titled Sunny Afternoon, premiered in 2014.
Listen to “Sunny Afternoon”: