Remembering Night Owls and Humblebums…

Baker Street (song)
Image via Wikipedia

Isn’t it strange how often, you don’t realise the actual impact someone (or something) has had on you and your life until after it or they have gone?

If you are a fan of music, and I don’t mean the incessant drum and bass crap genre that permeates from small hatchbacks, driven by barely pubescent spotty youths in beanie hats, you will probably have in mind a list of iconic tunes. Songs that remind you of a particular event or era in your life. Ones that hold a meaning about someone or connection to something you hold dear, or simply remember for one reason or another. Songs are like bookmarks in the novel of your travels through life’s ups and downs. Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty was one such bookmark…

BBC Obituary: Gerry Rafferty‘s Baker Street provided a welcome relief from the wall-to-wall disco that dominated the UK charts in the late 1970s. (Read more)

My own somewhat eclectic list of iconic musical bookmarks (in addition to Baker Street), off the top of my head, in no particular order and without reasons, would include;

  1. A Whiter Shade of PaleProcul Harum
  2. Eye Level The Simon Park Orchestra
  3. Redneck WomanGretchen Wilson
  4. 99 Red Balloons Nena
  5. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues
  6. Free BirdLynyrd Skynyrd
  7. Too many to list but probably One Love Bob Marley
  8. Don’t Stop Fleetwood Mac
  9. Only You – Yazoo
  10. Love and Affection Joan Armatrading

Thinking about songs, always sends my mind off at a musical, physical or geographic tangent and on to another connection… With Gerry Rafferty, I automatically and quiet naturally think of Billy Connolly because of The Humblebums but then , songs like Irish Heartbeat from Van Morrison which was also used as the theme for Billy’s World Tour of Scotland.

In considering the artist Nena, I recal time spent in Germany, which in turn makes me think of military subjects, then German friends in Turkey and back to music but this time Turkish music and artists such as Tarkan. Thinking of Bob Marley directs my thought processes towards ‘sunny Caribbean seas’ (part of the lyrics from Barbados by Typically Tropical), scuba diving, Jamaican food and Ainsley Harriott or Levi Roots and the Notting Hill Carnival. Music allows your thoughts to flow off in all sorts of diverse directions in the spaghetti junction that is your mind’s eye. A factor strongly evidenced by this digression from the point… 🙂

Apparently the song Baker Street actually earned Gerry something in excess of £80k in royalties every year since its release in 1978; how’s that for a nice little earner? But like many before and after him, Gerry succumbed to a troubled life as a result of his notoriety and success…

(Daily Mail) Haunted by his greatest hit: Baker Street made him rich beyond his dreams, but it plunged Gerry Rafferty into drunken self-destruction (Read more)

Gerry was not alone. The constant pressures of celebrity status have ruined the lives of many rock stars, pop idols and actors or actresses. Perhaps shows like X-Factor et al should come with an official government health warning; ‘WARNING: aspiration to and attainment of celebrity status can seriously damage your health!’ How anyone deals with the issues presented, is wholly or partly dependant upon their own personal strength of character. Success (or failure) for those that crave it will impact upon people in different ways.

I’ve always maintained that; if you have low-level expectations and aspirations, you stand less chance of being disappointed if they don’t come to fruition. If they do, it’s simply a bonus just do your best to deal with the wealth and excess when it arrives. To my mind I would say the secret is; always think well of yourself and don’t concern yourself too much about the opinion of others. Self confidence is the key!

And as a final note or observation; contrary to popular belief, despite the satirical whit of Stuart Maconie, the quiz show host Bob Holness, wasn’t stuck in the middle of Baker Street with a sax…

Gerald “Gerry” Rafferty (16 April 1947 – 4 January 2011) was a Scottish singer and songwriter best known for his solo hits “Baker Street” and “Right Down the Line“, and “Stuck in the Middle” with the band Stealers Wheel. (Source – Wikipedia)

MrG note: Whilst writing this post and searching for references on the net, I came across another demise that I hadn’t been aware of. Apparently Elisabeth Beresford, the creator of The Wombles, passed away last Christmas Eve (see here). There’s another person who had a major impact on many in our society, an unsung (and probably unknown) bringer of merriment to many a child.

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