Thursday, January 06, 2011
Stuck in the Middle of Baker Street: R.I.P. Gerry Rafferty
Gerry Rafferty, who passed away this week at age 63, did something in his career that is truly one in a million: he struck the AM Gold mother lode twice.
With his band Stealers Wheel, he tossed off a spot-on parody of Blonde on Blonde-era Bob Dylan called "Stuck in the Middle with You," which to his amazement, became a huge hit in 1973. It is almost unquestionably the best Dylan rip ever recorded, and there have been many.
"Stuck in the Middle" enjoyed a huge resurgence in 1993 when Quentin Tarantino used it incongruously for a grisly scene in his debut film Reservoir Dogs. A year later, Sheryl Crow took "Stuck in the Middle"'s vibe wholesale for her debut hit "All I Wanna Do."
By the time "Stuck in the Middle with You" hit pay dirt in '73, Stealers Wheel had broken up, and Rafferty embarked on a solo career. And he topped his earlier success with 1978's "Baker Street," which contains perhaps the most memorable sax line in pop music history.
As a 1978 Rolling Stone profile points out, "Baker Street" was about a miserable period Rafferty spent squatting in a friend's London flat on, you guessed it, Baker Street. Despite this, the song is commonly associated with the magnificent mid-70s genre of Yacht Rock, which celebrates easy living, key parties, Riunite on Ice and artists like Seals & Crofts, Christopher Cross and Michael McDonald-era Doobie Brothers.
A few years back, the Foo Fighters, who have great taste in cover tunes, did a fabulously post-grunge version of "Baker Street." Let's go out with that.
R.I.P. Gerry Rafferty - hope you spend your time in Heaven with clowns to the left of you, jokers to the right.
Get your Gerry Rafferty on iTunes here:
"Stuck in the Middle with You"