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Album: All Mod ConsReleased: 1978Charted:
Ray Davies wrote this. The original version can be found on The Kinks' 1967 album Something Else. It wasn't released as a single.
The Jam's version was released as a double sided single along with "A Bomb In Wardour Street."
The song bemoans the fact that most of us will never attain the glory or stature we want. "David Watts" is the person we all want to be, but will never become.
Jam Bassist Bruce Foxton rather than Paul Weller sang lead on this as it wasn't in the right key for the Jam frontman.
Weller told Mojo magazine June 2008 that it was his idea to cover this. He explained: "The first time I went to America (October 1977), you could buy all these old Kinks records that you couldn't get here at the time. As a kid I'd only heard the singles. So it was our choice to record the track, with 'A' Bomb on the B-side. We wanted Billy Hunt as the single, but the record company turned it down. But David Watts worked for us- it put us back on the map."
The real David Watts was a concert promoter from Rutland in the English Midlands. The Kinks band members were invited back to his house for a drink one night after a concert. Ray Davies recalled to Q magazine in a 2016 interview:
"My brother, Dave, was in a flamboyant mood and I could see David Watts had a crush on him. So I tried to do a deal and persuade Dave to marry David Watts cos he was connected with Rutland brewery. See, that's how stupid my brain was. (Chuckles silently) I thought if I can get Dave fixed up with this Watts guy I'll be set up for life and get all the ale I want."
But the song's about complete envy," Davies added. "It was based on the head boy at my school. He was captain of the team, all those things, but I can't tell you his real name as I only spoke to him a few months ago."