Song in Focus #7

Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty

HERE it is.

A giant tune that’s over 45 years old. And sounds as timeless as ever. I feel like it’s one of those songs that commands your attention when it comes on. This is never going to be a ‘listening in the background’ song for me!

I’ll take a step back. This song was one that I discovered as a child via the medium of the radio. I would be half listening to some songs and then this would come on (especially on Magic or Smooth!). I was captivated by the opening few seconds and stayed that way as the lead-up to that sax began. Yes, this song contains one of the greatest sax examples in history. I like to think that this sax is good friends with Careless Whispers’ sax.

However, this track is also the whole package. Gerry’s vocals are so smooth and engaging, perfectly throughout. I have just mentioned the searing sax solo, but we also have the searing guitar solo-I know this is one searing song!

in terms of lyrical content, this has that feel of the singer telling us a story. Which is of course set in Baker Street. The lyrics relate to a certain period in Rafferty’s life when he was trying to get himself out of various contracts. During this time he was regularly travelling between his family home in Paisley and London where he stayed at a friend’s flat in Baker Street. This is a quote from Gerry Rafferty himself:

“Everybody was suing each other, so I spent a lot of time on the overnight train from Glasgow to London for meetings with lawyers. I knew a guy who lived in a little flat off Baker Street. We’d sit and chat or play guitar there through the night.”

This then explains the last verse of the song:

When you wake up it’s a new morning
The sun is shining, it’s a new morning
You’re going, you’re going home.

According to Rafferty’s daughter Martha, the book that inspired the song more than any other was Colin Wilson’s 1956 The Outsider. This book was being read by Rafferty and explores themes of alienation and of creativity born out of a need to be connected at the time of travelling between two cities.

A superb song, generally one of the all-time greats. So what do we have in the way of covers?

I picked this one from Karla Sax. No vocals, just pure sax, and it sounds amazing. A great version and lovely to give a listen too, I find myself coming back to it a lot.


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