One of the most faceless 3-hit wonders of my childhood—and possibly yours—Gerry Rafferty died earlier today at 63 years of age. Thanks to Townspeople andyr and ladymisskiroyale for notifying me and sticking the grandiose opening to “Baker Street” in my brain. It replaces the ringing in my ears following band rehearsal (did I tell you a number of Townspeople will be appearing Philadelphia’s at North Star Bar this Thursday night, January 6?), but it won’t help me get to sleep any easier.
You know Rafferty’s three big songs: “Stuck in the Middle With You,” which he did as part of the totally faceless Stealers Wheel (not even the standard solo Rafferty shot of him smiling, with his trimmed beard and smokey shades, comes to mind when I hear that band’s name); “Baker Street”; and the coke-ode “Right Down the Line.” Actually, I have no idea whether “Right Down the Line” is an ode to coke or whether Rafferty even snorted the smallest line of the stuff. If the works of an artist of the mysterious magnitude of Gerry Rafferty get stuck in my mind I can’t be entirely responsible for the playground shenanigans that ensue. It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I even knew he was British let alone, what I learned more specifically tonight: that he was Scottish!
Who would have thought he was Scottish? With no explanation the man’s sound jumped from a humorous take on a previous decade’s wealth of Bob Dylan wannabes to some mind-meld of Steely Dan and Chuck Mangione. I’d love to hear a showdown between the theme from Mangione’s “Feels So Good” and Rafferty’s “Baker Street.” Eventually the themes would wind around each other, creating a healing forcefield, or wave, unrivaled since any creation from the original run of Star Trek. Townsman shawnkilroy would emerge from the crest of the healing wave, like sammymaudlin‘s hero, The Silver Surfer. Eventually Rafferty, Jeff Lynne, Ian Hunter, and Bob Welch would feel emboldened to remove their smokey shades. John Stewart (the musician, not the fake newsman) and Stevie Nicks would lead them through a few choruses of “Gold.” dr john (the Townsman, not the New Orleans musician) would find a way to drag Neil Young‘s Cadillac tail-fin from On the Beach into this scene. alexmagic (the Townsman, not Magic Alex, the recent guest of Mr. Moderator on Saturday Night Shut-In), however, would not lose sight of the opportunity Rafferty’s nationality provides us for referencing Hamish Stuart.
Finally, who would have thought the New York Times would know so much real stuff about the man’s life? Truly, Rafferty brought joy and perhaps even meaning to the lives of others beside me. I will choose to continue associating his songs with drives in my grandfather’s pickup truck as we went to and from the racetrack to groom and train his racehorses each summer morning. I’d rather forget about the scene in that movie that brought his music back into our collective consciousness once and for all, the point at which I left the theater in disgust.