Gerry Rafferty died yesterday. The official cause seems to be liver and kidney problems, brought on by alcoholism, brought on by depression.
I enjoyed listening to him. I have City to City (featuring Baker Street) and a “Best of” recording, the first on vinyl and the second on cassette.
City to City came out in 1978. I was in college and probably bought the album at K-mart, using money I earned mowing the lawn at K-mart. That would have been the summer after my freshman year, and I got (if I remember right) $125 a week for mowing the lawn all around the store. I ended up getting really fast at doing it, and I think I got my hourly rate up to a hundred bucks an hour. I’d get my pay inside, and then spend it all on music. I didn’t even have a record player at the time. And that was my highest hourly rate until I agreed to do a job for a flat rate of $75, then wrote up the bill for thirty minutes’ work at $150 per hour. But that’s a different story.
The seventies were a different time. Gerry Rafferty was a fresh voice. Baker Street transported me to another place, when I was a bit of a rebel and thought I had the world figured out.
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 had everything.
The college town had 14,000 people in it at the time, and that was a big place to me. I had come from living outside a village of five thousand. Now Cincinnati, with a couple million people in its SMSA, seems a bit provincial. Times change.
You can buy the whole City to City album for under four dollars, if you don’t want to drop a buck on one song. Gerry Rafferty still pulled in $125,000 a year on royalties for Baker Street.
I don’t say this for the money aspect. He stopped recording much too soon.