THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Gerry Rafferty

Maybe he'll get it right next time.


You had to buy "City to City". For "Baker Street".


Famous for Raphael Ravenscroft's solo, that was not the song's only magic. Starting like a sunrise, evidencing the hope that only music can exude, "Baker Street" is as good as any movie ever made, yet it's a record.


That's the power of music.


And as happy as the music sounds, that's not how the lyrics start out…


"You used to think that it was so easy
You used to think that it was so easy
But you're tryin'
You're tryin' now"

Isn't that what growing up is about. At twenty you know everything, as the decades pass, you realize you know nothing. You were confident once, now you're not so sure… But you keep on tryin', until you start cryin'.


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

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If you haven't been at loose ends by time you're fifty, you're doing it wrong. You just haven't taken enough chances, you just haven't risked. And how these twentysomething artists could get it so right, be so worldly in their younger years, I don't know. Then again, after flashes of genius, so many burned out. Or knowing so much, burning so bright, they flamed out, into alcoholism. Like Gerry Rafferty.

Then again, that was his father's legacy. Alcohol. It's hard to escape where you come from, especially when you're unwanted and the only hope and inspiration comes from yourself.

But "Baker Street" ends on an optimistic note.


First there's the conversation:

"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"

We call this friendship. We're looking for the one true buddy who knows us, who accepts us, but isn't afraid to call us on our b.s.

"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 in some quiet little town
And forget about everything"

Is this Gerry's story?

Unlike today, Gerry Rafferty's career didn't begin with "Baker Street". The gigantic hit came years down the line. After paying his dues, endless nights on the road…when you've worked this hard, you're shocked to finally break through. And then what? How do you cope with everything you've dreamed of once you've given up on it occurring?

If you think Gerry Rafferty was a one hit wonder, you've never heard "Stuck In The Middle With You". Which seems even more popular than his ubiquitous solo hit today.

But that solo hit was so good, Rafferty's sound so rich, that I continued to buy album after album, because when Gerry got it right, there was a richness to the sound and the lyrics that embodied humanity…Rafferty's aural dope was of such quality, it could never be denied, we were always searching for one more hit.


But no more.


Have you listened to "As Wise As A Serpent"?


"Now you once asked me why we can't communicate
But it doesn't always pay to tell the truth
If I told you right now, you'd only run away
Run away, run away home"


Trust is gone.


That's a horrible place to be. I'm working my way back from it. My ex-wife obliterated my faith in people. You say to never leave, then you leave me?

"So we sit in empty rooms and dream our lives away"

That's what's gone from today's hit music. The despair.

You can sleepwalk through life. You can take no chances, play by the rules. But the only fun, the only thrill comes from coloring outside the lines. But with this risk not only comes reward, but disappointment, ennui, desperation and depression.

You hear all of this in Gerry Rafferty's tunes. No words can convey these feelings as well as these songs. That's the power of music.

It took me years to find all of "Sleepwalking" online. I had the vinyl, I needed MP3s, that I could take with me. Because our music, it's our most valuable possession, nothing else we own can be a companion and touch our hearts just so.


I was waiting, I was waiting…for the day I heard from Gerry Rafferty. I wrote again and again, about how much his music touched me, how it reflected my life, how I felt the solidarity.

It never happened.

And now it never will.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jan/04/gerry-rafferty-obituary

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