It is worth a short column to celebrate Gerry Rafferty's contribution to pop music. The Scottish singer/songwriter died after a long bout with alcoholism yesterday at the age of of 63. If it hadn't been for the perpetual presence of two songs on oldies radio for the past 30 years, Rafferty may have vanished without much notice.
But those two songs!
A solo effort, "Baker Street" (from 1978's five million selling LP City To City), is a soft rock classic, blending an unforgettable sax groove with a searing guitar solo and the pitch-perfect vocal of Rafferty.
The crowning achievement, though, is the continuing jukebox wonder of "Stuck In The Middle With You." Written with partner Joe Egan and recorded under the group name Stealers Wheel, the tune topped the US and UK charts in 1972. Produced by legendary songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, 'Stuck In The Middle" is an irresistible three and a half minutes of pop heaven. Anchored by Rafferty's emotional lead slyly sneering at the industry that is ironically making him money, the song is powered by a funky bass line and George Harrison-like slide guitar.
Turn it up. Pick a partner. Or just dance along in your chair. It's great stuff.