Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealers Wheel (A&M, 1973)

Never has a joke made someone so rich. Stuck In the Middle With You was conceived as a Dylan parody of sorts, by Joe Egan & Gerry Rafferty. But the tune is so catchy and it’s sung so straightforward, no one got the joke. Instead it sold over million copies and hit the Top 10 in 1973. It also would have haunted Gerry for his entire life, had it been his only hit. (Instead Baker Street make him rich & depressed.)

Gerry does a great Dylan interpretation, especially when he sing lines like, fall off my chaaair. You can almost visualize Bob’s sneer as he would strain for those high notes. And how did anyone miss the clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right line as Dylanesque? Rafferty & Egan may have just ripped Dylan off and when the song became a big hit, covered their tracks by saying it was a joke.

Lyrically I can’t tell if it’s a song about a drunk that’s wondering how he’ll get down the stairs or if it’s a guy who’s hanging out with his newly successful but insufferable friend. Maybe he’s playing a raucous game of Mahjong. Either way I don’t think Dylan wrote anything this good in the 70s. Hey put down that knife…I’m entitled to my opinion.

Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty (United Artists, 1978)

Gerry Rafferty sealed his fate with this big smash from 1978. It would have gone to #1 if not for Shadow Dancing hogging the top spot for 7 weeks. Even that rippin’ sax solo by Raphael Ravenscroft couldn’t kick out baby Gibb, although it made tons of people buy saxophones and take up lessons. This song made Gerry an international superstar, which he reacted by shunning concerts and promotions. Nevertheless, Gerry lived off the royalties until he passed away last month after years of alcohol abuse.

The song reflects upon someone who realizes their life and where they are in it, are not what they thought it would be, but they have hope that maybe it will change in a year or so. At the time Gerry wrote this he was going through a major lawsuit that had been keeping from releasing new material. His pain, our pleasure.

The second verse seems to told in 3rd person from the perspective of a woman, most likely scorned or at least abandoned. The carousing drunk guy comes home guilty and promises it’ll never happen again. But the woman knows this is bullshit, but sighs and hopes things will change. Or at least can pretend they will with each sunny new morning.

So to recap, Baker Street is a song about someone who hates their life, so they drink and screw around. Which made Gerry Rafferty a big hit and very rich. Which made him hate his life and drink and screw around. VH1s Behind the Music will return after these messages…..