"Where Have All the Good Times Gone" was written by Kinks frontman Ray Davies for their fifth studio album. It was originally released on a single as the B-side of "Till the End of the Day," but gained status as an A-side after David Bowie covered it for his album Pin-Ups.
This nostalgic song was inspired by the good times Ray Davies had singing around the piano when his family would get together. "I wanted to write a song my dad or relatives could sing," he told Rolling Stone. "They always talked about how great it was before or during the war - I think every generation thinks that way."
Davies added: "It's got that hard edge The Kinks had, but at the same time, it's got a reflective, poignant lyric."
Van Halen covered this song on the album Diver Down. This was the second case of Van Halen covering The Kinks; the first was 1978's "You Really Got Me." Ray Davies said he was "thrilled" with the Van Halen cover, which he said "took it up a step."
Listening to the lyrics, one is reminded how The Kinks were experiencing some inner-band tension around this time, punctuated by incidents such as the onstage fight at The Capitol Theatre in Cardiff, Wales. Ray Davies insulted drummer Mick Avory and kicked over his drums, Avory responded by clocking Davies with a hi-hat, knocking him cold and requiring stitches. This led to their brief ban from touring America. So of course Davies might have been feeling down in the dumps. In fact, the very album title is a joking reference to the "bad reputation" that the band had gotten, in part stemming from incidents such as the stage fight.