Saturday, 14 May 2011

Way down on Baker Street - 1978

Baker Street W1 London Street Sign - Steel, 20 x 15cms

"Baker Street" is a ballad written and first recorded by the late Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty. Released as a single in 1978, it reached No 2 in the US, No 3 in the UK, No1 in Australia and No9 in the Netherlands. The arrangement is famous for its Saxaphone solo, played by Raphael Ravensctroft

In October 2010 the song was recognised by the BMI for surpassing 5 million performances worldwide.

Named after the famous London Street of the same name, the song was included on Rafferty's second solo album, City to City, which was Rafferty's first release after the resolution of legal problems surrounding the formal breakup of his old band, Stealers Wheel in 1975. In the intervening three years, Rafferty had been unable to release any material due to disputes about the band's remaining contractual recording obligations.

Rafferty wrote the song during a period when he was trying to extricate himself from his Stealers Wheel contracts, and was regularly travelling between his family home near Glasgow and London, where he often stayed at a friend's flat in Baker Street. As Rafferty put it, "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." The resolution of his legal and financial frustrations accounted for the exhilaration of the song's last verse: "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.

"Baker Street"
Single by Gerry Rafferty
from the album City to City
B-Side"Big Change in the Weather"
Released3 February 1978
Length4:10 (single edit)
6:01 (album version)
6:34 (long version)
LabelUnited Artists
Writer(s)Gerry Rafferty
CertificationBPI: Gold (400,000 sales)
Gerry Rafferty singles chronology
"Baker Street"
"Night Owl"

The album City to City, including "Baker Street", was co-produced by Rafferty and Hugh Murphy. In addition to a guitar solo, played by Hugh Burns, the song featured a prominent eight-bar saxophone riff played as a break between verses, by Raphael Ravenscroft. The melody had originally intended to be sung but was then tried on guitar. Ravenscroft, a session musician, was in the studio to record a brief soprano saxaphone part and suggested that he record the now famous solo using the alto saxaphone he had in his car. The solo led to what became known as "the 'Baker Street' phenomenon", a resurgence in the sales of saxophones and their use in mainstream pop music and TV advertising.

The saxophone solo was also the subject of an urban myth in the UK, created in the 1980s by British writer and broadcaster Stuart Maconie. As one of the spoof facts invented for the regular "Would You Believe It?" section in the NME, Maconie falsely claimed that British actor and television presenter Bob Holness had played the saxophone solo on the recording. Later, the claim was widely repeated

Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well another crazy day, youll drink the night away
And forget about everything.

This city desert makes you feel so cold
Its got so many people but its got no soul
And its taken 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 youre tryin, youre tryin now.
Another year and then youd be happy
Just one more year and then youd be happy
But youre cryin, youre cryin now.

Way down the street theres a light in his place
He opens the door, hes got that look on his face
And he asks you where youve been, you tell him who youve seen
And you talk about anything.

Hes got this dream about buyin some land
Hes gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then hell settle down, in some quiet little town
And forget about everything.

But you know hell always keep movin
You know hes never gonna stop movin
Cause hes rollin, hes the rollin stone.
And when you wake up its a new morning
The sun is shining, its a new morning
But youre going, youre going home.

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