"Days" was originally only intended to be a track on the 1968 concept album The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, but after the commercial failure of the previous release "Wonderboy" it was rushed out as a single. The song peaked at #12 in the UK but failed to chart in the US.
Fearing that the band's time was up following the failure of "Wonderboy," Ray Davies wrote this nostalgic song saying goodbye to his music career. He told Q magazine: "I didn't care anymore. So I thought, 'Say goodbye nicely,' and wrote 'Days.'"
Ray Davies also had in mind his sister Rosie who had emigrated to Australia. "She left and said, 'Say goodbye, my loving brother,' and I said, 'Thank you for being my sister,'" he recalled to Rolling Stone. "So the song's for her, really, and her generation."
Ray Davies recalled the story of the song in an interview with Q magazine:
"I started writing it in a hotel on tour. Strangely enough it was the rhythm I wanted to get first, the sustained chords. The actual tune came later. And then I wrote some of it in a phone-box while I was phoning somebody I shouldn't be phoning. The song wasn't about the person on the other end of the line. Well, not really. But I suppose it's the ultimate kiss-off, isn't it? 'Thank you for the days.'"
A cover by Kirsty MacColl reached #12 on the UK singles chart in 1989, equaling the chart position achieved by The Kinks.
The song soundtracked a 2011 UK commercial for the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet.
"Days" is now thought of as one of Ray Davies' most popular songs. The Kinks frontman admitted in a 2010 YouTube clip that he didn't foresee what the track would eventually mean to people.
"The song has grown in intensity over the years," he said. "I didn't think much about the song when I wrote it. Sometimes songs occur like that. You don't think about it, but it's built up quite a lot of mystique over the years. It certainly left me. It belongs to the world now."