January 5, 2011

"Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you."

Gerry Rafferty, the singer and songwriter of Stealers Wheel has died at the age of 63.

36 comments:

Hoosier Daddy said...

Baker Street is till one of my favorite songs.

RIP

Jay said...

That video is beyond disturbing.

edutcher said...

These guys are dying like 19th century poets - maybe 20 years later, due to antibiotics and all that, but way before their time.

A shame, nonetheless.

Scott M said...

Music to slice off ears with. Seriously...Resevoir Dogs ruined me on that song.

ricpic said...

Everyone starts off thinking they're in the middle. Only slowly does it dawn on them, some of them, that they're jokers and clowns...and that's alright.

c3 said...

Tidbits I got from his obit today:

-Dad was a horrible alcoholic
-Rafferty played all of the instruments on "Baker Street" including the sax
-later in life Rafferty sank into alcoholism

He's got this dream about buyin' some land
He's gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he'll settle down there's a quiet little town
And forget about everything


Well, he got the forget about everything part.

shoutingthomas said...

Drank himself to death. A common method of self-destruction among musicians.

Steve Sailer says he was pulling in $125,000 annually in royalties on Baker Street and that he loathed the music biz.

Musicians who strike gold with a single hit record often (usually?) descend into madness, alcoholism and drug addiction. They have enough money to live on and do nothing else. This can be a serious negative. With nothing to do except chase the next hit, what else is there to do but self-medicate?

Among Woodstock's street people, this one-hit wonder thing is a common story.

I wonder who really wrote the sax solo on Baker Street, which was really what sold the song and put money in Rafferty's pocket. I'll bet it wasn't Rafferty. More like improvised by the sax player in the studio. He probably earned a one time session fee.

Such are the strange dynamics of the music biz.

SteveR said...

Incorrectly used by the "No Labels" crowd, who aren't in the middle.

Irene said...

"A complete list of his survivors was not available."

Estate planners smell trouble.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Music to slice off ears with. Seriously...Resevoir Dogs ruined me on that song.

Testify. I don't get disturbed all that easily but that scene alone right along with Deliverance are two movies that I refuse to ever watch again.

Things you just can't unsee.

EDH said...

Jay said...
That video is beyond disturbing.

The video puzzled me a first, and rather than write it off as just another incongruous music video, I actually think it provides a good insight into what Rafferty's own reflection on the lyrics was after the band met with some success.

The clownish woman and the man symbolize the managers, lawyers, promoters, record company executives, wives, girlfriends and groupies a band on the upswing finds itself "stuck in the middle with," who've come to feed off the band while they do all the work.

And when they've finished off everything, they leave.

The Crack Emcee said...

More people sent me news of this death than any other. He touched a nerve.

Most of his stuff sucked but, when he got it right, he hit it on the head.

c3 said...

The video is interesting since the song came out in 1972 (and I presume the video was made around the same time) and MTV didn't start up until the early 80's.

Ahead of its time?

The Crack Emcee said...

Hoosier,

I don't get disturbed all that easily but that scene alone right along with Deliverance are two movies that I refuse to ever watch again.

And both of them just make me laugh and laugh and laugh. Tarantino's use of that song was sheer brilliance.

Robert Cook said...

I was a senior in high school when that song was a hit...a great song.

However, being visually reminded of the surfeit of bearded longhairs in gypsy fashions that were the norm then, one is reminded again of how vital and exciting the cleansing bath of punk rock was for pop music (and fashion) of the time. (This is not to deny my many years with a beard, and my fewer years with long hair.)

Clyde said...

I don't miss the giant bell-bottom pants at all.

I liked Susanna Hoffs' cover of the song on her self-titled solo album from 1996. But then, anyone who has looked at my profile would probably guess that!

William said...

The riddle of existence: For some it's tic tac toe, for others it's like trying to solve for the square root of minus one. Rafferty never figured it out, but at least he left a memorable record of his puzzlement....I put this song way behind Talking Heads "Once in a Lifetime" in the puzzlement genre, but it's pretty cool.

SarcastiCarrie said...

The first song at my wedding reception was "Right Down the Line" a Gerry Rafferty song from 1978. I was married in 2001, so I would say the song held up well.

Blair said...

According to a comment on the Guardian website, a fellow called Raphael Ravenscroft was paid 27 pounds for his saxaphone solo on Baker Street, and the cheque bounced.

deborah said...

I love Baker Street. It reminds me of Year of the Cat, which I must have heard play hundreds of times on the radio, but didn't really 'get' the popularity of until this clicked: 'she comes out of the sun in a silk dress running like a water color in the rain.'

For my fellow Althousians:
woo hoo hoo.

Ron said...

I don't get disturbed all that easily but that scene alone right along with Deliverance are two movies that I refuse to ever watch again.

Geez, I watch RD some mornings just to wake up!

shoutingthomas said...

According to a comment on the Guardian website, a fellow called Raphael Ravenscroft was paid 27 pounds for his saxaphone solo on Baker Street, and the cheque bounced.

Can't vouch for it, but it sounds about right.

Note to Crack. Don't take checks.

Triangle Man said...

Ahead of its time?

I guess they were. I was skeptical and thought the video may have come after MTV, but the release date of the video was Feb. 1973. I'm trying to think of where and when such a video would have aired.

EDH said...

Ahead of its time?

Heck, the Beatles made music videos in the 1960s.

Scott M said...

I've always thought of the Monkeys as the primary groundbreakers as far as videos are concerned.

edutcher said...

Right on. Mike Nesmith came up with the idea as a show closer. When the series folded, he stayed with the idea and made it pay.

Entrepreneurialism must run in the family - his mother invented Liquid Paper.

Jim said...

Re: Videos. In 1963 there was a machine that played film strip videos in the cafeteria on Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, TX. The favorite was Little Stevie Wonder doing "Fingertips (Pt 2)". Then, in 1965, there was in the Airman's Club (Club Zanzibar) on Yokota AB, Japan, another machine that also played film clips. I remember the Dave Clark Five doing "Glad All Over" and the Animals doing "The House of the Rising Sun". This is just to say that music videos existed prior to MTV.

Scott M said...

That's fair enough. MTV exists after videos now. Why? I can't fathom, but I die a little inside each time I flip past it and there's another in an seemingly endless stream of teen/college reality tv angst.

TML said...

Oddly, "City to City" only cost me $2.21 for the entire album last night. Great piece of work there.

c3 said...

cleansing bath of punk rock

God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron
Potential H-bomb

God save the queen
She ain't no human being


How cleansing.

mariner said...

I'll pour a wee dram of good malt tonight, and listen again to some of his music.

Rialby said...

I was in a Jewish fraternity in college. My Jewish friends and I changed the words to, "Ashkenazis to the left of me, Sephardics to the right. Stuck in the middle with Jews."

AST said...

One of my favorite artists. I had all of his records including one I bought directly from his website.

He's only a year older than I am.

dont tread 2012 said...

"Trying to make some sense of it all,
But I can see that it makes no sense at all,
Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor,
'Cause I don't think that I can take anymore
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you."

Great Stealer's Wheel song. I love 70's music, save for the disco.

Robert Cook said...

"How cleansing."

CS3, I sense you're being a might...snarky.

But that song is one of the great classics of rock & roll, as thrilling to hear now as when it was first released, and Lydon was a great lyricist.

shoutingthomas said...

But that song is one of the great classics of rock & roll, as thrilling to hear now as when it was first released, and Lydon was a great lyricist.

Ugh! Well, that might thrill a 15 year old drunk. I suspect you're much older than that.

Your commie nihilism would be more attractive if you were a soccer hooligan or an obsessive Giants' fan, Kookie.