Right, there’s a couple of clues to the answer to two questions which struck me tonight, as I rummaged around in my CD racks.
What’s the best song never to get to Number One? And, what song has got the best sax intro on it EVER?
For the life of me, I can’t think why Gerry Rafferty was not more widely recognised as a really great Scottish song writer and singer. In the late Seventies he came out with a couple of absolute pearlers. There are twenty songs on the Albums “City to City” and “Night Owl”, and all of them are excellent pieces of work. A slightly ruminative, plaintive style with intelligent, rueful lyrics pervade both these albums, which I’ve listened to with much renewed pleasure over the last two hours. I’d simply forgotten just how good they were.
He’s clearly a man who saw what Fame and High Living offered, and thought a second time about it all. You could call him a One Hit Wonder with "Baker Street", and, although he issued a few more albums over the last twenty years, none of them touched me in the way these two did.
The sax player on "Baker Street", who gets scant mention in the song's credits, was Raphael Ravenscroft. A fascinating article in the Scotsman a few months ago tells how 30 years ago, Ravenscroft was paid the princely sum of £27 for his efforts on the song. Apparently, even at £27, the cheque bounced and it is now framed on Ravencroft’s solicitor’s wall, which is rather nice.
Rafferty seemed to just get increasingly disillusioned and uncomfortable with the pressure of performing, and suffered a gradual decline into relative obscurity, with the Demon drink apparently having more involvement than it should. Since the end of the Seventies, he does not seem to have had a happy life, which, given the pleasure he’s given so many people, is really rather sad.
A few weeks ago, he popped up in the News, or at least, on the extreme margins of it. A short paragraph noted that he had trashed a hotel bedroom, and ended up in St Thomas’ Hospital in London, whereupon he apparently discharged himself. Apart from a rather forlorn posting from someone who claims to have seen him in a restaurant off Picadilly Circus, and helped him to his hotel, no-one has seen him for the last couple of months.
Whilst we’re not talking Paul McCartney here, you’d have thought a story like this would have got some eager newspaper reporter snuffling around for a column. So, has he done a Reggie Perrin, or what?
Anyway, his music deserves tons more recognition than it gets. If you haven’t listened to him, give it a go.
… This city desert makes me 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 ….