Song of the Day #3,343: ‘Baker Street’ – Gerry Rafferty

My next yacht rock song is controversial on a number of levels. For one thing, there appears to be some heated debate over whether Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ is yacht rock at all.

I’m not a stickler when it comes to genre definitions, so I won’t go down that rabbit hole. ‘Baker Street’ was released in 1978 and it’s smooth as hell soft rock with a sweet melody. That’s yacht rock to me.

‘Baker Street’ is best known for it’s fabulous sax solo, which is controversial in its own right. Session player Raphael Ravenscroft played the memorable riff, and claims that he came up with it after being given the song with gaps to fill. Rafferty claims he wrote the lick, intending to sing it. His claim is supported by the existence of an earlier demo on which the part is played on an electric guitar — before Ravenscroft ever got his hands on it.

But the plot thickens. Listen to the song ‘Half a Heart’ by jazz saxophonist Steve Marcus and you may well conclude that Rafferty lifted the riff, or at least absorbed it subconsciously.

No matter the circumstances, Rafferty certainly crafted a memorable song with or without the sax solo. But the sax solo totally rules.

My wife finds this song creepy, because she once either a) saw a movie, or b) had a dream in which this track played over a coming apocalypse. We searched for the movie with no luck, so I’m guessing it was a dream.

Also, my daughter knows this song because of its inclusion on an episode of one of her favorite shows, Rick and Morty.

[Verse 1]
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 held 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

[Instrumental Break]

[Verse 2]
Way down the street there’s a light 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 mornin’
You’re goin’, you’re goin’ home

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4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,343: ‘Baker Street’ – Gerry Rafferty

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Wow, I had no idea there was such controversy surrounding this song. The one thing I had heard was that the sax player wasn’t happy with the way his parts came out because he claimed he was off key. For the life of me, I don’t hear that, but maybe it was corrected at some later point. Anyway, I’ve always loved this song- whether it’s yacht rock or not.

  2. Rob says:

    Great tune from an under-rated artist. Many years ago, while directing and performing in a ten piece band in an amateur musical theater group here in Montreal, I had the chore of charting “Baker Street” for my band. This was not an easy task by any stretch, as the song is layered with many instruments. I also had the pleasure of playing the scorching guitar solo in this tune, standing beside my buddy while he performed the sax solo. Performing this song is one of my favorite musical memories

  3. Doug clifton says:

    Who knew there could be such intrigue in pop music. I remember this one and liked.

  4. Peg says:

    I love this music and song. Interesting comment and memories from Rob.

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