Songfacts®: You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.
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." (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2)
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. (thanks, scott - cape cod, MA)
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."
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Kristian talks songwriting technique, like how the chorus should redefine the story, and how to write a song backwards.
Al Jourgensen of Ministry
In the name of song explanation, Al talks about scoring heroin for William Burroughs, and that's not even the most shocking story in this one.
Webb talks about his classic songs "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and "MacArthur Park."
He wrote "She Blinded Me With Science" so he could direct a video about a home for deranged scientists.