Thursday, 6 January 2011

Britain is no longer a country for a sad old musician called Gerry Rafferty

The musician Gerry Rafferty, seen with the comedian Billy Connolly in happier days in a pub in the 1970's, has died at the age of 63. He had recorded and toured with Billy as part of 'The Humblebums', before forming 'Stealers Wheel' with his friend Joe Egan in 1972.

Things you possibly didn't know about Gerry, that he :

* was born into a working-class family in Paisley, Scotland, where his Irish-born violent and alcoholic father was a miner and lorry driver, who died when Gerry was 16

* was inspired by his Scottish mother who taught him Irish and Scottish folk songs and influenced by the music of 'The Beatles' and Bob Dylan, started to write his own material.

* left school and worked in a butcher's shop and, later, as a civil service clerk.

* played in a series of music groups, one with Connolly and then 1972, formed 'Stealers Wheel' with Joe Egan and had a huge hit with 'Stuck in the Middle' :

* legal issues after the breakup of 'Stealers Wheel' meant that, for 3 years, he was unable to release any material until his second solo album, 'City to City' in 1978, which included 'Baker Street'. Based on his experiences in the 1960's busking in the London Underground as a struggling musician, it is for this that he will be best remembered. All these years later,its saxophone riff still has the power to send a shiver down the spine. By 2010 it was recognised by the BMI as having exceeded 5,000,000 worldwide 'air plays' :

Windin' 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 taking you so long,
To find out you were wrong,
When you thought it had everything.

You used to think that it was so easy,
You used to say that it was so easy,
But you're tryin',
You're tryin' now.
Another year and then you'll be happy,
Just one more year and then you'll be happy,
But you're cryin',
You're cryin' now.

Way down the street there's a lad 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 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.

But you know he'll always keep movin',
You know he's never gonna stop movin,
Cus he's rollin',
He's the rollin' stone.

And when you wake up it's a new mornin',
The sun is shinin' it's a new morning,
You're goin',
You're goin' home.

It was 'the booze' which finally destroyed Billy, a chronic alcholic, 32 years after he wrote :
'He's gonna give up the booze and the one night stands'.

The music journalist Paul Gambaccini has said :

" 'Baker Street' was about how uncomfortable he felt in the star system and what do you know ? it was a giant world hit. The album 'City to City' went to no 1 in America and suddenly he found, that as a result of his protest, he was a bigger star than ever. And he now had more of what he didn’t like and although he had a few more hit singles in the United States, by 1980 it was basically all over, and when I say ‘it’, I mean basically his career, because he just was not comfortable with this. ”

Gerry himself once said : "There have been periods in my life where I have experienced depression...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...My main ambition is to continue to write music, which helps me to evolve in a spiritual sense and hopefully to inspire others."

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