Rafferty, Gerry - Baker Street
Type of Spiritual Experience
The Telegraph – Obituary, 10:48PM GMT 04 Jan 2011, Gerry Rafferty
Gerry Rafferty, the singer and songwriter who died on January 4 aged 63, had a smash hit in 1978 with Baker Street, a world-weary classic based on his experiences busking in the London Underground as a struggling young musician.
Rafferty’s first chart success had come in 1973, as a member of a folk-rock band called Stealer’s Wheel. A commercially appealing single from their first album, Stuck In The Middle With You, received widespread radio airplay on account of its shuffling catchiness and went to No 8 in the British charts.
Rolling Stone magazine judged it “the best Dylan record since 1966”, and the song was later revived in a blood-curdling scene in the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs (1992).
Although disillusioned and preoccupied with management problems, Rafferty re-emerged with a solo album, City To City, which sold more than five million copies, and which included a track called Baker Street.
When this song was released as a single in April 1978, it took the pop charts on both sides of the Atlantic by storm, reaching No 3 in Britain and No 2 in America.
It was the haunting Baker Street — with its searing saxophone riff — that propelled Rafferty into the pantheon of British rock legends. The song has remained a staple of soft-rock and easy-listening stations for more than 30 years — by 2004 it was reckoned to have received four million airplays — and at the time of his death continued to earn Rafferty around £80,000 annually in royalties.
Famously publicity-shy, Rafferty refused to promote the song in the United States, where the album from which it was taken had topped the bestselling charts and gone platinum. Instead he turned inwards, recording only sporadically and leading the life of an increasingly eccentric multi-millionaire rock recluse, last performing in public more than seven years ago.
Having sold some 10 million records in the course of his career, in 1983 he announced his intention to live in future “at my own pace, on my own terms”.
Rafferty himself admitted that “there have been periods in my life where I have experienced depression", but insisted that “it has been through some of my darkest moments that I have written some of my best songs. For me, singing and writing is very therapeutic. It’s much more effective than taking Prozac.”
A description of the experience
Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well, another crazy day
You'll drink the night away
And forget about everything
This city desert makes you feel so cold
It's got so many people, but it's got no soul
And it's taken you so long
To find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything
You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you're trying, you're trying now
Another year and then you'd be happy
Just one more year and then you'd be happy
But you're crying, you're crying now.
Way down the street there's a light in his place
He opens the door, he's got that look on his face
And he asks you where you've been
You tell him who you've seen
And you talk about anything
He's got this dream about buying some land
He's gonna give up the booze and the one-night stands
And then he'll settle down
In some quiet little town
And forget about everything.
But you know he'll always keep moving
You know he's never gonna stop moving
'Cause he's rolling, he's the rolling stone
And when you wake up, it's a new morning
The sun is shining, it's a new morning
And you're going, you're going home